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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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