Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

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

Tuesday - January 26, 2016

From: Cherry Valley, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Privacy Hedge Plant for CA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


We recently moved into a new home right on the border of Cherry Valley and Beaumont, Ca. We are at an elevation of 2,900 ft. We are looking for a plant that we can use as a privacy hedge along our back yard fence which is 6' high. Ideally, the hedge would end up 8-10 ft high so as to block the view of our neighbors house behind us. In a perfect world, we'd want the hedge to be somewhat compact so as not to spill over the fence (or as little as possible) onto the neighbors side of the fence.


There are many tall shrubs that you might consider as a privacy hedge along the back of your property. Start at the Native Plant Database and select State = CA, Appearance = Shrub, Light = Sun, Height = 6-12 feet, and Leaf = Evergreen (so that the plant provides year round screening).

This will give you a list of over 30 plants to consider. Taking a look at the individual shrubs, you have choices with different flower color and lots of forms to consider. Some, like Mahonia nevinii (Nevin's barberry) can be pruned to keep it somewhat narrow as you requested.


From the Image Gallery

Nevin's barberry
Mahonia nevinii

Lemonade sumac
Rhus integrifolia

Sugar sumac
Rhus ovata

Simmondsia chinensis

Coastal sage scrub oak
Quercus dumosa

Mexican flannelbush
Fremontodendron mexicanum

Red barberry
Mahonia haematocarpa

Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Bush anemone
Carpenteria californica

Greenleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos patula

More Privacy Screening Questions

Thorny plants for a security perimeter in Austin TX
October 16, 2013 - Hello, I am trying to establish a security perimeter around my property that incorporates thorny or otherwise deterrent shrubs and vines. Can you recommend some attractive native plants that would su...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants to form a privacy hedge in Charleston, WV.
April 05, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I live in zone 6 and an looking for an evergreen privacy type hedge that grows no taller than 10'-12'. I am not interested in any boxwood type of hedge. The evergreens would be ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
April 21, 2012 - I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leav...
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

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.