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?


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

Monday - July 18, 2011

From: Whitehall, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Evergreen for privacy in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart


We need to plant a privacy/sound barrier hedge/hedgerow and my husband says it must be evergreen. I am not familiar with which species would be native to our area and I just don't trust those big stores to steer me correctly. We live in Whitehall, PA and the area in question gets good solid light year round. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


We CAN help, by teaching you how to use our Native Plant Database to learn about what evergreens are native to your area.

Do a Combination Search for PA and select the plant type you are interested in (trees or large shrubs), your conditions (you say plenty of light but don't mention whether the soil is moist, wet or dry) and evergreen leaf retention.  The database will generate a list of plants that fit those criteria that are native to PA.  Each plant on the list is linked to a detailed information page with images. Play with the Narrow your Search function to see the lists change accordingly.

Ultimately, you will be restricted in your choices by what is available in your local nurseries (and some of those big box stores do make an effort to carry plant material that is not only native but local), but you can make your list and then go shopping. You can also look up the plants the nurseries recommend for more information.

Here are a few that would be suitable from lists I created choosing sun/part shade and not narrowing the search for moisture condtions.

Larger shrubs

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel)

Trees (these can get big)

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) (this may be semi-evergreen depending on what cultivar you choose)


From the Image Gallery

Ilex glabra

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum

Atlantic white cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides

American holly
Ilex opaca

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Magnolia virginiana

More Trees Questions

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in sycamore in Kyle TX
August 04, 2011 - I'm trying to assist an elderly neighbor of mine with a plant issue. We have designated street trees in this community, our street being a Sycamore. The previous foreman out here called it a Mexica...
view the full question and answer

Mexican oak and red oak not looking healthy
August 02, 2014 - I purchased a Mexican oak tree and I believe a red oak tree from your center about 1 year ago. Recently I've noticed that they don't look as healthy as they have been, and I just looked at the leave...
view the full question and answer

Bulging trunks on post oak
August 05, 2011 - I have a huge post oak with a codominant trunk that is bulging between the two main trunks. The bulging is causing the trunks to spread apart, so one of the trunks is getting much too close to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center