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

Tuesday - June 05, 2012

From: New River, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Need suggestions for privacy hedge in New River, AZ.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hi! I live on a acre that is fenced and cross-fenced with 6' chain link. I am desperate to find a drought tolerant, very low water, non-toxic, fast growing privacy hedge or vine that I can plant around my fenced perimeter. I'm in a wheelchair and cannot do a great deal of plant tending, nor can I afford a Gardner. I would just like to have some privacy since the area I came to 25 years ago is now being over-run with clueless, non desert dwellers. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Well, we might be able to do drought tolerant and non-toxic, but fast growing in Arizona may be a stretch.
Lets start by going to  the Native Plant Database and use the Combination Search option. Select Arizona under State, shrub under General Appearance, and perennial under Lifespan. Check  sun under Light Requirement, and dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Narrow your Search button and you get 76 species that meet these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page that contains the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements and, in most cases, photos. As you go through the list, try to look for  plants that match your growing conditions.

Here are a few that could be possibilities

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

Ceanothus greggii (Desert ceanothus)

Cercocarpus montanus (Alderleaf mountain mahogany)

You are undertaking an extremely ambitious project! The perimeter of an acre is 832 ft if it is a square. Other shapes would increase that number. You are going to need some help; maybe this could turn into a Boy Scout project. I would suggest contacting the folks at the Maricopa County office of Arizona State University Extension who can put you in touch with groups that may help you with this, and can certainly give you advice about which plants to use.

 

From the Image Gallery


Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Desert ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii

Alderleaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus

More Shrubs Questions

Bottlebrush buckeye not leafing out from Newburyport MA
June 11, 2013 - We have a bottlebrush buckeye bush that has grown and blossomed for 16 years. This spring the bush failed to produce any leaves and there are no buds in anticipation of leaves. There are a few smaller...
view the full question and answer

Care for Vauquelinia angustifolia (Chisos Rosewood)
June 08, 2008 - Hello, I have another question for you. A friend has given me a plant called "Chisos Rosewood" which they bought on a whim but decided they couldn't use. It's said to be evergreen. It's about...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Fruit bearing trees and shrubs for wildlife in NY
May 05, 2010 - What are the best fruit bearing trees and berry bushes to grow in Oneonta New York. We are working on a project for the Oneonta Job Corps that is a green initiative. When we buy the fruit bearing tr...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

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