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?

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

Thursday - January 21, 2010

From: Shrewsbury, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Landscape buffer in Bluffton SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have to install an irrigated landscape buffer along the outside of a 6'high x 42'long privacy fence about 8' from a public sidewalk in Bluffton, SC. The property owners association requires 4' to 6' tall shrubs or trees. They suggested leyland cypress, wax myrtle, pine or holly or some combination. I want to install 8 leyland cypress trees - 6' apart to form an 8' hedge in front of the fence. Should I choose a different shrub or tree?

ANSWER:

We could not recommend Cupressocyparis leylandii on two counts. First, this tree is a hybrid, developed in England and, as such, falls out of our of range of expertise which is the conservation, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. 

The second reason is explained in the following article:

Landscape.com Reconsider Planting Leyland Cypress in your Yard

From that article: "This rapidly-growing tree quickly outgrows its space in a typical yard unless properly and regularly trimmed. Leyland cypress only lives for twenty to twenty-five years. I've found that trees left to grow large may have limited root support and are the first to blow down during high winds. You should consider the work needed to maintain a Leyland cypress before planting."

Consider: You would probably be putting in 2' tall trees from the nursery. They grow 3-4' in a year; at the end of two years they have reached your desired 8' in height. Now what do you do? If it is growing that fast, you are going to be pruning all the time. This tree can grow up to over 100' tall, with corresponding girth. Six ft. apart is not going to be enough, and it is going to be a constant battle to keep it at the mandated height. 

So, on to the other suggestions, beginning with wax myrtle. Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is the variety usually seen in the Southeast, and it is native to South Carolina. It is evergreen and will grow as tall as 12 ft., but can easily be pruned within the limits. Please read this previous answer on wax myrtle to give you not only the birds it may attract but information on assuring that you have berries on your shrubs (if you want berries). This USDA Plant Profile shows the plant to be native to Beaufort County, so you should have no difficulty obtaining and growing it. 

Of the other choices, we would opt for one of the Ilex, or holly, genus. There are 13 members of this genus native to North America and 11 native to South Carolina. One point we need to make is that, like wax myrtle, this plant is dioecious. Here are comments on the Ilex from our Native Plant Database. 

"You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. The male must be the same species as the female and bloom at the same time. Because hollies are such popular landscape plants, it may be worth the risk to plant a female and hope there is a male nearby. Withstands heavy pruning and renewal of old plants is suggested. Pest free."

We are going to recommend several of these that are evergreen and native to Beaufort County. Follow the links to the page on that individual plant to learn its growing conditions.

Ilex for Bluffton, South Carolina:

Ilex glabra (inkberry) - 6 to 12 ft tall, blooms white May to July, high water use, part shade, moist, acid soil

Ilex myrtifolia (myrtle dahoon) -15 to 18 ft. tall, blooms white April to June, part shade, moist soil

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - 12 to 36 ft., blooms white April and May, low water use, sun, part shade or shade, although will fruit better in sunnier location

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

Ilex glabra

Ilex glabra

Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Vehicle friendly oak trees for Austin
March 30, 2008 - Do Chinquapins, Shumards or Live Oaks produce lots of tree sap? I'm looking for a vehicle friendly Oak tree to be installed in parking areas in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Removing juniper roots from San Francisco
February 13, 2011 - Topic-Juniper Tree Root Removal (agh!) Needs-3 removed yet roots remain, some growing UNDER the cement, driveway and house!!! (under growth = ~3" as far as I can determine, thus far). Question-Do I ...
view the full question and answer

Need trees & shrubs for a 2.5x45 ft. planter box in Chatsworth. CA.
August 07, 2012 - We recently built a pool in our backyard and need to redo all the landscaping. We have a planter that is 45 feet long and about 2.5 feet wide. We'd like to put some trees in this planter that are n...
view the full question and answer

How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree in Rosenberg, TX?
September 03, 2010 - How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree? I live on the Brazos River and have a lot of large Pecan trees but the largest is approx. 11 ft. around.
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center