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
3 ratings

Tuesday - December 16, 2008

From: Hawthorn Woods, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screening plants for edge of pond in Illinois
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a backyard pond that I am restoring, adding aeration, plants, etc. Unfortunately, there is a farmer that stores old equipment on the shore of my pond and refuses to move it. It is an eyesore. Are there any perennial plants (Zone 5) that will grow tall in water and screen out some of this? I don't want it to overrun the pond though. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

ANSWER:

When you say the unwelcome equipment is at the shore of your pond, how close is that? Is the edge of your pond on your property and the farm equipment on his? There are plants that will grow in water in Zone 5, native to Illinois, that will provide some screening, and we will list them for you. There are also Illinois native trees and shrubs that don't grow IN water, but can grow in soggy soil at the edge of ponds or rivers, and would provide better screening still, but they would need some ground, maybe ten feet or so between the edge of your pond and the equipment. Unfortunately, none of these are evergreen, but at least they will help. To begin with the water plants:

Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) This perennial grows from 4 to 8 feet tall, with creeping rootstocks that form dense stands in shallow water, so it might be advisable to plant it in a large container underwater to prevent the pond being taken over by cattails.

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail) Perennial growing in wet places, pond margins, swamps, to 3 feet tall.

For the area beyond the pond, if there is room, you could consider some willows, members of the Salix genus. Willows are fast-growing, but can be weak and susceptible to disease. They should be trimmed back vigorously every few years to encourage stronger growth. Perhaps by the time they need to be replaced or removed, the farm equipment will have rusted away. 

Salix caroliniana (coastal plain willow) Grows in wet soils of stream banks or swamps.

Salix discolor (pussy willow) Many-stemmed shrub or small tree, marshy low ground, stream banks.

Salix humilis (prairie willow) Alluvial or boggy areas, 6 to 12 feet tall.

And some plants that will do well in soggy ground, and provide even more screening.

Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass) Rigid, upright perennial that grows well in low, wet areas, marshes. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) Found in swamps and around ponds and margins of streams.

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) Adapted to moist habitats, provides some height and interest. 

Follow each plant link to a webpage on that plant, and go down to the bottom of the page and use the link to Google to get more information. These plants should all be commercially available. If you don't find them readily available in your area, go to our Native Plant Suppliers, type your town and state into the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area. 


Typha latifolia

Equisetum hyemale

Salix caroliniana

Salix discolor

Salix humilis

Spartina pectinata

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Taxodium distichum

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy hedge for East Texas
January 07, 2009 - I need suggestions for a native shrub/bush as a privacy hedge for East Texas conditions. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

California Vine for Privacy Screening
November 06, 2014 - I have a two story house going up behind my back yard. I would like to plant a climbing vine with non-invasive roots to provide privacy. I live in Los Angeles and the trellis would receive almost full...
view the full question and answer

Covering dead arborvitae with non-native ivy from Niles MI
April 14, 2013 - I have a severely thinning arborvitae hedge. It is probably too shady, but I want the privacy. I'm thinking of planting something like ivy to fill the gaps. I know it will probably kill the hedge, bu...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
August 17, 2009 - Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant woul...
view the full question and answer

Noise buffering by native plants in Austin, TX
March 30, 2008 - I live in Austin in a neighborhood that is bordered on one side by highway 183 and on the other by MoPac and the train tracks. Even though I am least a three blocks from the closest highway, the traf...
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