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?

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
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

Sunday - March 27, 2011

From: Troy, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Short edging evergreen for IL
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I am planning on planting a short (height at maturity less than 1 foot) evergreen (and if possible flowering) shrub to border the walkway to my house. Can you give me some suggestions? The soil is mostly just clay.

ANSWER:

I am afraid that we cannot be of much help because of the specificity of your request. 

According to our Native Plant Database there is only one woody plant native to Illinois that, at maturity is less than 1 foot in height: Rubus pubescens (Dwarf red blackberry).  Although it has nice white flowers, it is not evergreen and it is probably not a good choice along a walk as it is a member of the bramble family! Most shrubs grow to be taller than 1 foot and most evergreen plants don't have showy flowers.  So you are going to have to make some compromises.

Because this particular Green Guru has some experience with shovelling snowy front walks I would propose you consider something a little different.  Instead of a narrow band of green along the walk (much like baseboard trim in a room), think about a more irregularly shaped border where you can edge the walk with shorter, herbaceous ground covers, perennials and spring flowering bulbs and set groups of slightly larger (evergreen and/or deciduous) shrubs back a bit.  Then you would have an attractive, welcoming path to your front door which won't look completely dead in the wintertime but won't be damaged when you do have to pile snow on it.

Many of the evergreen herbaceous  (and woody) plants that gardeners use in that sort of planting are not North American native plants, so we cannot recommend them.  If you would like a list of plants native to Illinois, a Combination Search of our database selecting: Illinois, the plant type (herbaceous/shrub/sub-shrub etc.) and your light and soil conditions will generate lists of plants with links to detailed information pages.

You might also find some interesting ideas in books and magazines; check out Front Yard Gardens: Growing More than Grass by Liz Primeau.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Hot Sunny Planter Suggestions for Florida
March 05, 2013 - We have a large, raised, concrete planter (about 15' L x 2' W) separating us from our condo neighbor in Clearwater, FL. We would like suggestions for shrubs that tolerate full sun and hot conditions...
view the full question and answer

Information about a red-flowered Pavonia lasiopetala in central TX.
September 07, 2010 - I have grown Pavonia for years and just let it re-seed where it wants (and remove if I don't want it where it falls). This year I created a new 6 inch raised bed amended with compost and some manure...
view the full question and answer

When is the best time to transplant Esperanza bushe in Buda, TX?
September 04, 2013 - When is the best time to transplant an Esperanza bush? I want to move it because it is overwhelming my front yard. Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in West Union IA
June 22, 2010 - Erosion control and native grasses/plants for steep, shady slope in northeast Iowa. We are building a house in northeast Iowa (near West Union in Fayette County). The road that was graded to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
September 13, 2009 - I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center