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?


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

Friday - October 19, 2012

From: Kneeland, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Evergreen for privacy screen in Northern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hello, My neighbor just logged their property and we need a very quick growing evergreen shrub/tree (for privacy of ugly cabin) that grows to at least 10' -15' tall. We live in northern Cal. about 3 miles from the ocean at 1300' in elevation. Rain 40-60" annually, area for privacy screen is mostly shaded. Redwood forest. Coastal fog frequently in early summer but then Indian summers in late August thru mid October when temps climb into the 80's. Please help, they have put up a privacy screen fence (literally you can see thru it) which does absolutely nothing. Thanks


Here are three possibilities for evergreen shrubs for your privacy screening.   All three are native and are found in Humboldt County:

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (Blue blossom) is a fast grower to 20 feet and is evergreen with blue blossoms in the spring.   It grows in sun or part shade.  You can read what Yerba Buena Nursery near Woodside and Bay Natives in San Francisco say about it.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) can grow to 20 feet high but usually grows to only about 8 feet.  It is fast-growing and evergreen and will grow in sun and part shade. Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido and Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery in Sun Valley.

Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron) will grow in shade or part shade up to 25 feet and has very showy flowers.  Here is more information from the Washington Native Plant Society and Woodbrook Native Plant Nursery in Gig Harbor, WA.


From the Image Gallery

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Pacific rhododendron
Rhododendron macrophyllum

More Trees Questions

Evergreen tree for Southern California coast
July 06, 2010 - I need a tree that is evergreen, non invasive roots that is not messy that can be kept at around 20 feet. We are at the edge of the thermal layer from the ocean. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Trees native to North Georgia
September 26, 2008 - What trees are native to North Georgia, (Blue Ridge Mountain, Elijay, Helen) area? Need info. for daughters school report.
view the full question and answer

Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
November 30, 2013 - Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and tr...
view the full question and answer

Can Monterrey Oak be topped into a bush from Austin TX
June 16, 2013 - I received a suggestion to use Monterey oak as privacy hedge by topping the small tree and letting it bush. I can't find any pictures or info on this being done though.
view the full question and answer

Neighbor's Arizona ash roots in Houston
September 30, 2009 - There is a huge Arizona Ash tree in my neighbor's yard. Its trunk is about 27 feet away from the foundation of my house and its foliage reaches my roof. I am planning to dig a trench on my side of t...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center