Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 31, 2009

From: Westminster, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrub or small tree to hide walls in southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have multiple issues in our back yard in 92683, and will probably need an assortment of plants to accomplish it. In a nutshell, here are the basics we were hoping to fix: 1) Ugly 5 & 6 foot block walls need to be hidden, 2) Plants should grow above walls to provide additional privacy, 3) Small yard, so minimal girth on plants at least below 5', 4) Dog eats everything, so must be non-toxic, and preferably minimal debris, 5) Our soil is a bit silty and dries out fast, and last 6) easy maintenance. Hopefully you have some ideas we can try.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants would like to refer you to the California-Southern Recommended list for commercially available native plants suitable for landscaping in southern California.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the list to 'Shrubs' or 'Trees' and make the choices yourself.  You can then check your choices against the list, Poisonous Plants Commonly Occurring in Southern California by Owen E. Dell, to be sure your plants are not toxic.  You can also check your choices against the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina and the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System databases. Here is also a list of Common Poisonous Plants for pets from the Humane Society of the United States.  

Here are a few plants chosen from the California-Southern Recommended list that are not toxic and meet your other criteria above.  There are many more to choose from.

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

One of the many Arctostaphylos species (manzanitas) native to southern California. 

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood)

Ceanothus impressus (Santa Barbara ceanothus)

Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens (stretchberry)

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)

Prosopis velutina (velvet mesquite)


Amorpha fruticosa

Arctostaphylos pungens

Chilopsis linearis

Cornus nuttallii

Ceanothus impressus

Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens

Fremontodendron californicum

Prosopis velutina

 


 

More Shrubs Questions

Using non-native Red-Tip Photinia as a mulch from Pittsburg TX
March 23, 2011 - Wondering if its ok to use Red Tip Phontinia as a mulch? thanks
view the full question and answer

Need plants to provide a privacy screen in Cedar Creek, TX
March 31, 2015 - We need to screen out neighbor's house. What can we plant (fast growing tree or hedge) in partial shade? Area is dry in summer, but does get soggy during heavy rain. We live east of Austin in Cedar C...
view the full question and answer

Is Sabal minor juglone tolerant?
October 13, 2014 - Is Sabal minor or any other small and shade tolerant palm juglone tolerant? Id like to plant one in an area near a pecan tree but I am not sure if they will play well together.
view the full question and answer

Lack of Blooms and Low Hanging Limbs on Mountain Laurels
August 06, 2014 - My mountain laurel didn't bloom this year but has a few hard pods on it. It is 9 ft tall but very top heavy with most growth low. I need to prune it a lot at the bottom because it has branches hangi...
view the full question and answer

Two Holly Cultivars for a Texas Front Landscape?
February 22, 2016 - We are starting a new with our landscape. All existing 30-year-old plants are going to be removed. We would like a focal point at the front door area and are considering 'Savannah' or 'Nellie R. St...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.