En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Trees Questions

Control of borers attacking Prunus serotina
August 30, 2006 - Where can I find information to control borers that seem to attack only Prunus serotina v. exemia?
view the full question and answer

Problems with tuliptree in North Salem IN
September 02, 2009 - I have a tulip tree and it looks like it is dying. The limbs are starting to turn bright blue. Do I have an insect problem or is it from a lightning strike?
view the full question and answer

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Are white pine trees toxic to horses?
May 31, 2009 - Are white pine trees toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Blooms on Desert Willow withering quickly in Rockwall TX
July 15, 2010 - Why do the blooms on my Desert Willow dry up and wither away in one or two days?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center