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 - August 07, 2012

From: Chatsworth, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Need trees & shrubs for a 2.5x45 ft. planter box in Chatsworth. CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We recently built a pool in our backyard and need to redo all the landscaping. We have a planter that is 45 feet long and about 2.5 feet wide. We'd like to put some trees in this planter that are non-evasive with regard to the roots. We'd also like the trees (or shrubs) to be evergreen and not a make a large mess with leaves dropping. We live in Southern California and get a lot of sun year around.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is having trouble visualizing such a long narrow planter. Is it more like a flower bed with a hard border? He doesn’t think that trees would do well in this situation, but shrubs are definitely a possibility.

Lets start by looking at our Native Plant Database which has  7272 species of plants to look at. Go to the Recommended Species Lists box, and click on View  Recommended Species page. Clicking on Southern California on the map  will bring up a list of 208 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Southern California. This list is too large, so lets go to the Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the page and make the following selections; select California under State, shrub under General Appearance, perennial under Lifespan. Check sun under Light Requirement and dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Narrow you Search button and you will get a list of 37 species for your consideration. If you click on the scientific name of each species, you will get the NPIN page for the plant that contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images. As you check out each plant, you can note its size and whether it is evergreen and produces fruit, and thus determine its level of messiness.

I did the search and found these five plants that look interesting to me.

Arctostaphylos hookeri (Hooker's manzanita)

Ceanothus megacarpus (Big-pod buckbrush)

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)

Quercus dumosa (Coastal sage scrub oak)

Rhus ovata (Sugar sumac)

For help closer to home, you might want to contact the folks at the Los Angeles County office of University of California Extension.

 

From the Image Gallery


Hooker's manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri

Big-pod buckbrush
Ceanothus megacarpus

Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia

Coastal sage scrub oak
Quercus dumosa

Sugar sumac
Rhus ovata

More Shrubs Questions

Problems with Silverado Sage in Pearland, TX.
July 28, 2012 - Hi, We have three Silverado Sage bushes we planted last year. They did great during the drought. However, this winter they had a severed leaf drop of mostly just the centers of them. These cente...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy hedge resistant to verticillium wilt
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for an evergreen, fast-growing privacy hedge (over 6') that is resistant to verticillium wilt and has low water requirements. I live in Monrovia, CA and have to replace hopseed bushes w...
view the full question and answer

Native trees and shrubs for bloom various times of year
February 10, 2008 - I live in Southwest Austin and have a garden that spans the length of our back fence. It gets approximately 6 hours of sun. We currently have two trees (which we think are Bradford Pears) and three ...
view the full question and answer

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

Hedge plant for Maui.
February 17, 2009 - Question: I live in Pukalani, Maui, Hawaii and would like to put a "living fence" around my yard for some privacy. Ideally, I want something that is going to grow fast and about 8+ feet tall for a h...
view the full question and answer

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