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?


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

Tuesday - February 24, 2009

From: Virginia Beach, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Plants to augment a privacy fence in Virginia Beach.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I live in Virginia Beach, VA and I have a small back yard about 75 ft deep and 60 ft wide. We have a six ft privacy fence but still have many undesirable views over the fence I would love to block out as much of the year as possible. Is there a plant, tree, shrub, etc..that you can recommend we plant that will grow fairly quickly without overcrowding my yard and blocking out the sun? I would be happy with 3-4 trees spaced out in the yard or something to plant in a row or a mixture of both. Thanks in advance,


Mr. Smarty Plants often gets questions about plants that are suitable for privacy hedges, and these four plants are often recommended for this purpose.

Wax myrtle, Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) an evergreen shrub growing 6-12" ft. tall. See more at Aggie Horticulture Database

Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) a picturesque, evergreen shrub growing 12-25 ft tall. Female plants produce an abundance of red berries. See more at Aggie Horticulture Database

Sweet bay magnolia Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) This is a slender tree or shrub with pale grey bark, 12-20 ft. tall. The solitary, fragrant flowers are 4-6 in. across, with 9-12 velvety-white petals 2-3 inches across. See more at NC State University

Eastern redcedar Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) This evergreen usually reaches a height of 30 - 40 ft. but can be pruned to form a hedge. There are dwarf varieties available that would make this easier. Contact UConn Plant Database or North Carolina State University.

For more information about Virginia shrubs, go to our website and select Recommended Species. Click on Virginia on the map, and you will get a list of 122 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Virginia. If you chose the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and chose Shrub in the "Habit" window, your plant list shrinks to 30 shrubs suitable for Virginia. Clicking on any name on the list will take you to the NATIVE PLANT DATABASE page for that plant. There you can learn characteristics of the plant, such as habitat, size, growing conditions, benefits, etc. The ADDITIONAL RESOURCES box toward the bottom of the page can link you to further informatiion sources on Google. Visit our Suppliers Directory for help in locating nurseries theat sell the plants you chose for your hedge.

Ilex vomitoria

Magnolia virginiana





More Privacy Screening Questions

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

Trees and shrubs in Wisconsin
July 30, 2009 - I live in Hudson, WI, just across the border from Minn/St Paul and would like to create a privacy screen between my front yard and my neighbors yard. Right now it's full sun, but I want to plant a c...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening shrubs from La Quinta CA
July 31, 2013 - I need a solid row of screen tree / shrubs that are at least 10 feet (prefer 12) tall and can be kept trimmed to a narrow (6 foot or less?) width. Will be planted against a 6' cement wall facing west...
view the full question and answer

Large shrubs for privacy screen in VA
October 12, 2010 - Tonight my husband and I took down two large shrubs about 15' tall and spread across our yard to provide mostly privacy from the road and traffic noise. My question is this, since it's the front of ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center