Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Friday - April 13, 2012

From: Folsom, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Vines
Title: Folsom CA Wall-cover
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I live in Folsom, CA and I have an ugly cinder block wall that I want to cover, I want something that is low maintenance and that is going to grow and spread into my grass. The only one i can really think of to use is ivy, but my thumb is not very green yet, I love gardening just not very knowledgeable in it :) I have tried to do some research but, really haven't found anything that has been helpful.. thank you!

ANSWER:

When Mr Smarty Plants is looking for a wall-cover, his thoughts go to a nice native vine as they are low-maintenance and very likely to grow vigorously. You might plan to plant them on top and “train” them to cascade down, or plant them below and train them to go up & over.  I checked the recommended species for Northern California, then narrowed the search to just vines and found six good possibilities.   They are:

Aristolochia californica (California dutchman's pipe)

Calystegia occidentalis (Chaparral false bindweed)

Clematis lasiantha (Pipestem clematis)

Clematis ligusticifolia (Western white clematis)

Mahonia pinnata (Wavyleaf barberry)

Vitis californica (California grape)

I personally think the clematis’ have the nicer flowers, but then having California Wild Grapes would be a nice conversation piece!   What do you think?   Of course, if you prefer a shrub or maybe a ground cover, you can find the appropriate California native species with a similar search.

Want to become more knowledgeable about natives?  There is a local chapter fo the California Native Plant Society near you!  Another good choice is to become familiar with the local California Extension Office.

 

From the Image Gallery


Chaparral false bindweed
Calystegia occidentalis

Pipestem clematis
Clematis lasiantha

Pipestem clematis
Clematis lasiantha

Western white clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia

Western white clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia

More Privacy Screening Questions

Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
June 29, 2013 - Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for privacy hedge in Northern NJ.
May 01, 2012 - Hi, I'm looking for advice on what plant would make an excellent privacy hedge in Northern NJ (Bergen County). Ideally something low maintenance, about 5 feet tall, would act as a fence. Thanks...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening shrubs from La Quinta CA
July 31, 2013 - I need a solid row of screen tree / shrubs that are at least 10 feet (prefer 12) tall and can be kept trimmed to a narrow (6 foot or less?) width. Will be planted against a 6' cement wall facing west...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for privacy from Larchmont NY
April 19, 2014 - Love your site! We have a 4'x4'x50' stone wall, full sun, with a planting bed 30"H by 24"D. We're looking for privacy, so a hedge with pruning is needed. We have looked at Ilex Crenata (8'),...
view the full question and answer

Need a privacy screen of native plants for swimming pool in Garden Ridge, TX
February 10, 2013 - We are building a pool and would like to use native plants as a screen around the fence, preferably a shrub that grows quickly to about 6 feet. Any suggestions? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.