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
1 rating

Tuesday - July 30, 2013

From: El Cerrito, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Fast-growing tree for privacy in Berkeley, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Help. I need fast growing tree for backyard privacy. Where in Berkeley is there a tree nursery to Buy Pittosporum trees? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.  Pittosporum species are native to Japan and China so it is not a tree that we would recommend for you to grow.   We can, however, recommend several native evergreen trees that would make a good privacy screen for you and would grow better than an imported non-native.  Here are a few evergreen trees and large shrubs that are native to your area:

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar) can grow to 50 feet tall, but can also be pruned into a hedge shape.  It has a fast growth rate (to 20 feet or so) when young, but then slows down.  Here is more information and a photo from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber [synonym=Cercocarpus betuloides] (Birch-leaf mountain-mahogany) can grow to about 20 feet.   Here is more information from Santa Barbara City College.

Arctostaphylos manzanita (Whiteleaf manzanita) is a small tree, growing to about 15 feet.  Here is information about a variety called Dr. Hurd from Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarite, CA.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (Blue blossom) is a small tree that can grow to 18 feet with blue flowers in the spring.  Here is more information from Plants for a Future.

Garrya elliptica (Wavyleaf silktassel) grows to 10 feet. Here is more information from Sonoma County Master Gardeners.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) can grow to 15-20 feet and has bright red berries in the winter.  Here is more information from the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Morella californica [synonym=Myrica californica] (California wax myrtle) grows 10 to 25 feet high and has aromatic foliage.   Here is more information from Great Plant Picks.

You can find all these plants at Bay Natives in San Francisco.  The East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society also has a nursery, Native Here Nursery, located in Berkeley.  Check their webpage for contact information for the hours and the stock they have available.  You can check for other sources in your area by searching in our National Suppliers Directory.

 

From the Image Gallery


Smooth mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Blueblossom
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia

More Privacy Screening Questions

Shrubs for privacy in wet area in Ohio
July 13, 2011 - I am looking for flowering shrubs for Ohio that reach 8-10 feet and can handle wet feet. I am trying to avoid building a wall for privacy and would like to use flowering shrubs instead.
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen in Idaho
February 15, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I need to add privacy to a chain link fence. The fence is shaded by large trees.They add shade from up high but little privacy at fence level.What would you recommend I plant...
view the full question and answer

Small tree with blossoms for screen in Corpus Christi, Texas
July 26, 2010 - We are looking for something to plant along a back fence for privacy but don't want it to be a bush. What might work like a crepe Myrtle in the Corpus Christi area that would blossom towards the to...
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

Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
March 09, 2013 - We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enoug...
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