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
1 rating

Sunday - April 04, 2010

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrubs to hide neighborhood area in Philadelphia
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on a lane in Philadelphia, PA. Across the street from my home is a small hill with trees and beyond that is a driveway and homes. The neighbors that live in the homes dump their tree cuttings, lawn grass, leaves and anything else they don't want to see; but I see it all day. There is not much sun. WHAT CAN I PLANT THERE SO I DON'T HAVE TO SEE ALL THE DEBRIS. SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T NEED MUCH SUN AND WILL GROW WILD TO FILL IN AND THE SOIL ISN'T GOOD EITHER.

ANSWER:

Having just been to visit Philadelphia for the first time (last October, before the snow) we saw many lovely neighborhoods, and find it difficult to believe that this sort of thing is permissible. Mr. Smarty Plants is not in the legal business, our concern is solely the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. If we understand you correctly, you wish to plant these shrubs on the empty property across the street from yours, not on your own streetfront. We will be happy to provide you with a list of shrubs native to the Philadelphia area, but the first thing you need to do is be sure that is the only solution to your problem. 

Consider the owner of the property on which this trash is being deposited. Before you spend the money and the effort to plant shrubs on that property, you need to have the permission of that landowner to do so. In fact, the dumping on that property is most likely also the responsibility of the landowner.  If you plant anything on that property without the written permission of the landowner, they likely have the right to come and tear it out again.

In terms of solving the problem without recourse to all that trouble,  some local authority needs to be notified and then follow-up done to make sure the the problem is solved. We found a Sanitation Violation Report from the Philadelphia Police Department, which might give you a start. Another site suggested you call 311 on illegal dumping, which is the responsibility of the Philadelphia Streets Department. Neither of those places may be the exact place you need to be, but both are good places to start.

Assuming you have satisfied yourself that it is legal for you to do so, we will give you a list of shrubs that can tolerate part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and live without too much care in the area of Philadelphia County, USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. We will go to our Native Plant Database section, click on Pennsylvania on the drop-down state menu and do a COMBINATION SEARCH by selecting "shrub" under HABIT and "part shade" under LIGHT REQUIREMENT.  Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant for more information.

Shrubs for Screen in Philadelphia: 

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex glabra

Lindera benzoin

Morella pensylvanica

Physocarpus opulifolius

Rhus glabra

Rhus typhina

Viburnum acerifolium

Viburnum dentatum

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Will cochineal insects washed from cactus plants harm adjacent Oleander?
June 11, 2015 - Will mealybugs (cochineal insects) power washed off prickly pear cactus harm adjacent oleander plants if the white fluff gets on the oleander? My neighbor asked me to power wash my prickly pears and t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Pride of Barbados from San Antonio
August 26, 2011 - I have some very successful wildly blooming "Dwarf Pride of Barbados" plants growing in my xeriscape garden. Each year I cut them back to the ground. I have just purchased a new variety called "...
view the full question and answer

Winter pruning of lantana from Austin
February 12, 2013 - I live in north Austin. Due to our mild winter, my lantana has not died off this season as it usually does after a freeze - and so I have not cut it back yet this year which I typically do about right...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

Plant for full sun behind waterfall
March 21, 2009 - I have a 24 inch waterfall around my pool. I need to plant something behind it. I have full sun and hot Texas weather. I will be watering everyday, so what do you think would grow well in this area?
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center