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

Non-toxic plants for dog yard from Freeport PA
June 24, 2012 - I'm looking for wildlife-friendly native plants that aren't toxic to dogs. I have a place for some small shrubs and/or flowers. And a climbing vine that I could train on a trellis would work espec...
view the full question and answer

Shrub to hide chain link fence
August 12, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, Please recommend a tall, thick shrub to conceal the 6 foot chain link fence around the perimeter of our property. The fence is located down a hill from our home with western exposur...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub looking like honeysuckle in Odessa TX
October 02, 2011 - Bought a shrub in Pecos, TX yesterday. It looks like honeysuckle but the brightest flat orange I have ever seen. Flower and greenery looked like honeysuckle but when I looked on the Internet under or...
view the full question and answer

Irrigation of landscaping project after 1 year in San Antonio
November 10, 2010 - Hello, I am working on a project in San Antonio where the following vegetation types have been specified: cedar elm, bald cypress, 'Tifway 419' bermuda grass, mountain laurel, esperanza, and lantana...
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around salt water pool
June 27, 2013 - What are some plants that will grow around my salt water pool where there is some salt water runoff occasionally.
view the full question and answer

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