En Español

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

Friday - August 02, 2013

From: Sedona, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foot in width.

ANSWER:

An excerpt from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"First off, we're not satisfied with the word "hedge." That always brings to mind something squared-off and boxy looking, and somewhat unnatural. How about calling it a "linear grove"? (We just made that up.) We have in mind several shrubs we can recommend for your purposes, all evergreen, but they are not all going to grow uniformly, especially when they transition from sun to shade. You'd probably be happier leaving them casual and mostly untrimmed, because if they manage to get up to 15' tall, it's going to be a challenge to prune them back and keep them out of the power lines. Also, you can mix your choices according to the amount of sun or shade each area receives and each plant requires."

It will take a while, no matter how fast-growing a tree or shrub we can find for you (and fast-growing woody plants do not tend to live very long) for you to get a plant to 18 ft. We think you might be happier with a mix of attractive plants of various sizes that will distract the eye from the "ugly" house next door. We will go to our Native Plant Database and, scrolling down to Combination Search, select on Arizona, then run separate searches on "tree," "shrub," even "grass or grass-like" for Habit. You can re-run the search, selecting for Light Requirements, Soil Moisture, Height, even Leaf Retention (evergreen?) and get a better list than we can provide without knowing those characteristics. Some will grow quickly, perhaps begin to bloom, while others will grow more sedately, achieving height as time goes by. Meanwhile, you can enjoy watching the results of your handiwork and forget about the view beyond it. Follow each plant link on our suggested list to discover growing conditions, light needs, prospective mature height, etc. to find out if that plant fits your purposes. We will check with the USDA Plant Profile Map on each plant to make sure is native in or near to Coconino and Yavapai Counties.

Small trees for Sedona AZ:

Amelanchier utahensis (Utah service-berry)

Catalpa bignonioides (Southern catalpa)

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (Birch-leaf mountain-mahogany)

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Shrubs:

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Arctostaphylos patula (Greenleaf manzanita)

Ceanothus greggii (Desert ceanothus)

Cercocarpus montanus (Alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Grasses:

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

 

From the Image Gallery


Utah serviceberry
Amelanchier utahensis

Southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides

Smooth mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Greenleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos patula

Desert ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii

Alderleaf mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Replacement for Kentucky grass in Colorado
July 02, 2012 - What kind of grass to replace "Kentucky grass"? It uses too much water. Need drought tolerant grass for the Rifle, Colorado area ("zip code is 81650"). Water bill is way too high, pushing over $10...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Shade in Spicewood
September 16, 2015 - We live in Spicewood area in Austin, TX. Our front yard is yellow almost all summer, I was thinking of replacing lawn with a ground cover which can live on once a week sprinkler and no mowing. Also th...
view the full question and answer

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center