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

Wednesday - August 19, 2009

From: Sedona, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
Answered by: Amy Johnson


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 would you recommend, and how many plants would I need to cover the 90' (growing to be a hedge that would completely block my neighbor's yard/house)? Thanks.


There are a few native shrubs for your area that would get to about the size you are looking for: Mountain Mahogany Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany), Red Oregon Grape Mahonia haematocarpa (red barberry), and One-seed Juniper Juniperus monosperma (oneseed juniper).  The first is mostly evergreen, the second two are fully evergreen.  Since they are all native to upland sites in your area, they should require less water, although all plants need water for the first year or so at least when you first plant them to establish their root systems.  To create a hedge, you may want to try to plant these relatively close together, and how closely you space them of course affects how many you will need.  Follow the directions given from the nursery for whichever plant you buy.  If you plant them five feet apart, you will need about 18 shrubs.   Just take your 90' length, and divide it by the spacing you decide to use to get the number of shrubs required.

There are some alternatives to a hedge you may want to consider, since it will take a little while for the shrubs to grow to 8 feet.  You could build a fence and grow vines on it.  You could also plant a few trees in combination with either the vines or some slightly shorter shrubs, say 5 feet high or so.  You could also build a berm, or a mounded area, ranging from 1-3 feet at the highest point, and then plant shrubs, trees or vines on top of that.  The more layers of different size plants you use, the more completely your view will be screened.  If you would like to explore some planting alternatives for your area, you can go to this link: Arizona Recommended Species, and narrow your search by the type of plant you are looking for.


Cercocarpus montanus

Mahonia haematocarpa

Juniperus monosperma

More Privacy Screening Questions

Tall screening tree for Santa Barbara, California
August 20, 2011 - Hi, we live in Santa Barbara, California. We are looking for a tree between 20-30 feet high to block the neighbors two-story house yet the area we have to plant is 3 feet from the fence to the drivewa...
view the full question and answer

Native plants under trees for privacy barrier in Fairview, TX
April 29, 2009 - I am looking for suggestions on what to plant for a Privacy Barrier. The area in question is a shaded area under a tree line of about 200+ feet long. I am hoping for year round coverage. The canopy...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen replacement for bamboo in Redding CA
July 27, 2009 - We have just removed bamboo from our backyard and need to replace it with a plant that will give us the same type of privacy. What plant would you suggest to plant along a fence line that will surviv...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen in Kansas City, MO
April 04, 2012 - Hello, I am located in Kansas City, MO and am looking for a wall/screen plant. Last year I used a wall of sunflowers and loved them, however I want something more hardy and something I don't have to ...
view the full question and answer

Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
February 05, 2013 - Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.
view the full question and answer

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