En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 21, 2009

From: Woodmere, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Dog-proof shrubs in Woodmere NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My chocolate lab thinks that shrubs are the same as "fetch" sticks..she's ripped out my azalea, rhododendron, andromeda and a few others I'm not sure of the names. She's a great pup (almost 1 yr old), but I'd really like to re-landscape my back yard without fear of her ripping everything out. I don't want to use additional fencing or walling around the plantings. Are there are any particular shrubberies that she won't go after? Thanks so much.


With all due respect, it would seem that training the dog might be a good idea before replanting the shrubs. Perhaps waiting to replant until your dog is past puppydom could also help. We have lists of deer-resistant plants, but don't remember being asked for dog-resistant plants before. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend only plants that are native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to an area will be accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soil and therefore need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. However, even plants native to New York are not accustomed to being pulled up by an enthusiastic pup. We will, however, go to our Native Plant Database and see what we can find in shrubs that we think might better resist lab attacks. We have tried to choose some low plants (as well as some taller ones) that have tough spreading roots and/or branches and, of course, are not known to be toxic. We want to stop your dog from chewing on them, but we don't want to poison her. Some of the shrubs we chose have prickly or aromatic foliage which we hope will discourage dog tasting.

Shrubs for New York

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - trailing evergreen, ground cover, 6 to 12 inches tall, blooms white, pink March to June, low water usage, sun, part shade or shade

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern) - aromatic, mound-shaped, 2 to 4 ft. tall, blooms white, green May to August, low water use, part shade

Empetrum nigrum (black crowberry) - dense, mounded shrub to 6 inches tall, blooms pink, purple May to July

Ilex glabra (inkberry) - evergreen, leathery leaves, 6 to 12 ft. tall, blooms white May to July, high water use, part shade

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) - evergreen, prickly, 2 to 3 ft. tall, high water use, sun, part shade - pictures

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) - deciduous, 6 to 12 ft. tall, aromatic foliage, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry) - evergreen, 3 to 6 ft. tall, spiny leaves, blooms yellow March to May, low water usage, part shade or shade

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry) - fragrant gray-green leaves, semi-evergreen, 3 to 12 ft. tall, blooms yellow July to October, medium water use, part shade

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Comptonia peregrina

Empetrum nigrum

Ilex glabra

Lindera benzoin

Mahonia aquifolium

Morella pensylvanica






More Shrubs Questions

Need a native, evergreen shrub to replace Pittosporum in Austin, TX
May 13, 2014 - We've had a PITTOSPORUM for years as a foundation planting on the southwest corner of our central Austin home. Now that it's gone, I would like to replace with a native, non-invasive shrub. What are...
view the full question and answer

Problems with red tip photinia in San Antonio
March 29, 2009 - I have a red tip photinia that's about 20 years old and about 20 feet high--it is big! I noticed last summer the highest leaves looked droopy all the time even with deep watering and now that portion...
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs or small trees for privacy in Cumming GA
May 11, 2010 - I have a eight foot fence in my back yard. My back yard is full of trees and is very shady in the late spring and summer months and in the winter when the leaves fall is very bare. I am looking for...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for landscaping along a creek in Lenoir, NC
July 25, 2011 - I live in Lenoir, NC and would like to landscape my creek bank that is about 90 feet long and is 200 feet from my house. I thought about evergeen bushes maybe rhododendron; some grasses; a few trees ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center