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

Monday - December 07, 2009

From: Darien, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall and needs to be pretty dense. It is in direct sun and good soil. Any info on what plants would be a good choice would be appreciated.


That is an excellent choice for an Eagle Scout project, and we congratulate you. As you may know, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses on the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. We do this because native plants will require less water, fertilization and maintenance, as well as continue to provide sustenance and shelter to native birds and butterflies. We are assuming you would like to have an evergreen plant, if some can be found that will do well in your area, in order for the protection to be year-round.The evergreen part can present some difficulties, as you are in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b, which means you can have average annual minimum temperatures of -5 to 0 deg. F. Another problem is the height; most evergreen shrubs are going to get taller than that, and require continual pruning to keep them at that height. And our favorite evergreen shrub for the Northeast, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick), with glossy evergreen leaves and red fruit, seldom gets over 1 ft. tall, and is considered a trailing ground cover, not suitable for your purposes. Follow each link to the page on that plant to see what light requirements it has, water use, expected height, etc. If you decide you could use a deciduous shrub; that is, not evergreen, you can go back to our Native Plant Database, search on Connecticut and "shrub" under General Appearance, and make your own selection. 

Barrier hedge shrubs for Darien, CT:

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Ilex laevigata (smooth winterberry) - pictures

Juniperus communis var. depressa (common juniper)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry) - pictures

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ilex glabra

Morella pensylvanica

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs with sparse leaves and flowers for creek in Idaho
September 01, 2009 - I am looking for several shrubs that have spindly limbs and sparse leaves with flowers. The idea is to place them in front of windows or other views to add a lacey/veiled effect for the observer. I li...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for privacy screen and noise reduction in Dallas.
January 07, 2015 - Our backyard is on the north side of our house and is adjacent to the south side of LBJ Freeway (I-635) in Dallas. TXDOT only constructed an 8' concrete wall along our portion of its expanded right-o...
view the full question and answer

Screening Plants for Cape Cod
June 17, 2014 - I need to plant some fairly high growing leafy plants/bushes/trees for privacy and as a sound barrier in (the remains of) a pine forest in Cape Cod, MA. The pines grow tall and skinny so that we can s...
view the full question and answer

Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
November 30, 2013 - Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and tr...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting and Pruning Callicarpa
August 21, 2014 - I saw the previous question about Callicarpa from the guy in Texas and I have two questions based on the response. In SW Vermont, is late fall still the best time to transplant my Callicarpas? Also, i...
view the full question and answer

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