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 - November 17, 2006

From: Melrose, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Arborvitae as privacy screen in Maine
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


I want to plant privacy bushes (arborvitae shrubs) around my back yard. My husband built a wall to retain the soil behind it. My neighbors' yards abut mine. They have a fence, but not high enough to give me privacy. Anyway, I have 24" between their fence and my wall. Can I successfully plant arborvitae shrubs in this space? Is there a type of arbovitae that will have shallow roots or roots that grow down. I don't want my wall to bulge out. I live in Massachusetts.


Arborvitae (Thuja sp.) should do just fine in the space you described. They are tough and adaptable and their roots do not cause foundation problems. You can read more about this plant at About Arborvitae.

More Privacy Screening Questions

Trees for privacy screen in California
May 31, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smartypants, We are first-time home-buyers of a cute little house and a relatively large lot in Pacific Grove, CA. Unfortunately the neighbors to the north have built a second story with a nic...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for privacy screening in a campground in Wade, NC.
December 14, 2010 - Landscaping a campground tent area, need evergreen to grow to ground, narrow in width but will reach height for privacy. There is a wooded tree line along wall that produces shade during summer. Any...
view the full question and answer

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Screening Plants for Cape Cod
June 17, 2014 - I need to plant some fairly high growing leafy plants/bushes/trees for privacy and as a sound barrier in (the remains of) a pine forest in Cape Cod, MA. The pines grow tall and skinny so that we can s...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for privacy screen in Connecticut
November 21, 2008 - I am looking to replace a row of white pine trees with something else along the border between our yard and neighbor's yard. We only get afternoon sun and we need something that will grow to around ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center