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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Tuesday - September 28, 2010

From: Berkeley, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreen tree for California screen
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need a tree for screen and privacy. Our neighbors are building a second story. We will loose our privacy and our patio will be like a fish bowl. I will plant it about 2 feet from the fence at the property line. Our houses are close together here in the city. I would prefer a Evergreen or semi-deciduous, a tree with hardly any litter and pest free. The tree will be in full sun and clay soil. I need non invasive roots since it will be plated in my patio and not far from the foundation of my house. I need FAST GROWING with an Umbrella Shaped or rounded shape 25 ft spreading form and 25 ft high. The tree needs to be malleable to shape. I would like to plant asap. Please help. Thank you.

ANSWER:

You are asking for a 'Magic" tree and I am afraid we don't perform magic, but we'll do the best we can.  All the small trees listed below are native to your part of California and are evergreen.  All of them will produce a moderate amount of litter of some sort—berries, acorns, or leaves.  Your best bet is to visit a park or a nursery that has the trees to observe the amount of litter. You can check our National Suppliers Directory to find nurseries in the Berkeley area that specialize in native plants.  The California Native Plant Society East Bay Chapter is having a plant sale in October that you might like to check out since they list some of the plants below for sale.

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (Birch-leaf mountain-mahogany) has a moderate growth rate of 8 to 20 feet and is evergreen.  Here is more information.

 Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf cherry) is evergreen and grows rapidly to 40 feet once it is established.  Here is more information.

Umbellularia californica (California laurel begins growth slowly but once established grows rapidly to 40 feet.  Here is more information.

Torreya californica (California nutmeg) is slow-growing up to 50 feet.  Here is more information.

Quercus wislizeni (Interior live oak) is evergreen and grows slowly to 50 feet.  Here is more information.

Here are photos of three of the trees above from our Image Gallery:


Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber


Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii


Umbellularia californica

 

 

 

 

 

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