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 Privacy Screening Questions

Patio Privacy Screen Suggestions for Central Texas
March 17, 2013 - I have just built a patio and want to plant some small trees, bushes or shrubs to form a visual barrier (rather than to erect a fence)to the neighbors yard.
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence in Bentonville, Arkansas
June 12, 2013 - I have about 600 LF of 8ft high chain link fence I would like to grow vines on in Northwest Arkansas for screening. I would like some to cover quickly but be maintenance friendly. I heard alternating ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen options for Seymour CT
June 03, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants: Looking for a quick growing privacy hedge for a home in Seymour CT. Thank you very much, I appreciate your help.
view the full question and answer

Oak root resistant hedge for Southern California
December 28, 2013 - I live in Southern California and my cypress hedge has oak root fungus. What kind of hedge can I plant that will grow fast and be resistant to the fungus?
view the full question and answer

Looking for tree to absorb sound from neighbor's pool
August 09, 2012 - Our neighbors have put in a new pool with a harmonic pitch sound which resonates in my home. We have tried rubber mats and foam on the fence. Nothing is working. My pool guy suggested trees as the ...
view the full question and answer

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