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

Saturday - March 28, 2009

From: Anchorage, AK
Region: Northwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screening plants for Alaska
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Just purchased a house and want more privacy along the fence lines. Which plants would work well in the cold environment but provide privacy without taking over the yard.


Since you want a privacy screen, it would be very nice to have some evergreen choices. However, since most of the evergreens in your area are either ground-hugging or grow to be very large trees, I can really recommend only one, Picea mariana (black spruce).  Here are photos.  It might be possible to use Cupressus nootkatensis (Alaska cedar) even though it can reach 80 feet since it is a very slow-growing tree. Here are photos.

You have many more choices for deciduous native shrubs/small trees that should work well as a privacy screen along your fence.  The ones listed below all occur in the general area of Anchorage:

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood)

Crataegus douglasii (black hawthorn) and here are photos

Elaeagnus commutata (silverberry)

Rosa acicularis (prickly rose)

Rosa nutkana (Nootka rose)

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (grayleaf red raspberry)

Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry)

Salix bebbiana (Bebb willow)

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (red elderberry)

Shepherdia canadensis (russet buffaloberry)

Cornus sericea

Elaeagnus commutata

Rosa acicularis

Rosa nutkana

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

Rubus spectabilis

Salix bebbiana

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa

Shepherdia canadensis




More Privacy Screening Questions

October 11, 2010 - Hello, First, I am totally ignorant of plants,trees planting,etc. However, I just moved to El Paso, Tx and find every home is surrounded by these hideous rock walls, which aren't nearly tall enough t...
view the full question and answer

Fence Vines for Austin, TX
August 31, 2013 - Hi, What are the best high density vine plants for coverage on chain link fence in Austin, TX? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Screening Suggestions in Brooklyn, NY
March 08, 2013 - My neighbor directly in back of me has shrubs that are growing all over my fence. Also his 9-foot-tall shed facing me is rusted. What can I do to improve my view so that I can enjoy my backyard more?
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant shrub for privacy screen
November 23, 2007 - Is there some kind of drought resistant bush or thorny plant we can rim our property with to stop all the foot traffic through our yard? We don't care if it's pretty, just something thick and/or th...
view the full question and answer

Screen plant for Austin
March 30, 2009 - I live in Austin Texas and am looking for a small tree or large shrub that will obscure the view from my kitchen window into my neighbors. I am looking for an evergreen plant that gets no wider than ...
view the full question and answer

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