En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 13, 2008

From: Foster City, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for garden and pool in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need a fast growing screen for privacy. Here are the issues:1. we have a 3 story apartment building looking right into our backyard. so trees need to be at least 15' tall and dense. 2. we have a pool so can't be too messy or root invasively. 3. the planter is only 19" deep but 51 feet long along the property border. I have been told, that black stem pittosporum, purple viscosa hopseed and carolina cherry laurel will be good choices. What do you think? I was also considering fern pine and crytomeria radicans but they are rather slow grow? We don't like junipers. Greatly appreciate any advice.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses on plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. Since some of your plant ideas are non-native, let us give you some websites where you can do more research, since they are not in our area of expertise. We really can't answer for how messy any of these plants are, in terms of keeping trash out of your pool. Any tree or shrub is going to shed dead leaves, blooms, etc. through the year. The space you have, especially the depth, is a concern, as roots are going to spread out beyond the dripline of tree or shrub. 

Non-native to North America

Black stem pittosporum-native to New Zealand, Dave's Garden Forum on Pittosporum tenuifolium

Fern pine-Native to East Africa, see this Dave's Garden Forum on Podocarpus gracilior

Cryptomeria japonica cv. "Radicans" - native to Japan, Dave's Garden Forum on Cryptomeria japonica

Native to North America- follow links to our webpages for more information

Dodonaea viscosa (Florida hopbush) - native to S. Florida and S. Arizona; Foster City, in Central California, near the coast, should be warm enough.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) - native to California. Warning: the seeds of all members of the Prunus genus are poisonous. 

Other Native Suggestions, all native to California

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon)

Quercus dumosa (coastal sage scrub oak)

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (birchleaf mountain mahogany)


Dodonaea viscosa

Prunus caroliniana

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Quercus dumosa

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Trees for privacy screen
August 08, 2012 - Hello, We'd like to plant a privacy screen to hide our view of an adjacent apartment complex. Ideally the trees or other plantings might be a native species, and preferably they would eventually rea...
view the full question and answer

Screening Plants for Cape Cod
June 17, 2014 - I need to plant some fairly high growing leafy plants/bushes/trees for privacy and as a sound barrier in (the remains of) a pine forest in Cape Cod, MA. The pines grow tall and skinny so that we can s...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant privacy plants for Flagstaff AZ
March 19, 2013 - We need a fast growing drought tolerant tree that will grow in Flagstaff AZ/Parks AZ. Neighbors are hoarders and we want privacy fence to cover the mess. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for screening from Austin
March 25, 2012 - Is there an evergreen, fruit shrub which grows 8 to 10 feet high, having about 6 to 8 hours of sun which could be trimmed to serve as a screen in front of pool equipment on the side of our house?
view the full question and answer

A Bounty of Edibles for New Braunfels Texas
October 25, 2013 - I was hoping you could suggest a few plants that would serve several purposes. I live in New Braunfels, TX and would like to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants which would support birds, but...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center