Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Thursday - December 17, 2015

From: Prairie Du Chien, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Non-Toxic Hedge for Wisconsin
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

What would be a good non-toxic for dogs, privacy hedge about 3-6 feet tall for Wisconsin climate zone 4b?

ANSWER:

The first place to start your search is in the Native Plant Database. Narrow your search criteria by selecting Wisconsin, Shrub, Perennial, Sun, Moist soil, 3-12 feet tall and Evergreen (for the most privacy). This will fit all of your criteria except for your dog-friendly request.

Only one plant fits this search:

Taxus canadensis (Canada/American yew)

American yew is a low, straggling shrub or ground cover, 3-6 ft. tall and twice as wide, with flat, narrow needles that are dark green above and pale green below. Evergreen foliage takes on a reddish-brown tint in winter. Spreading limbs ascend at the tips. Bright-red, berry-like fruit grows at the tips of the branches. Needs protection from winter sun and wind, heat or drought. Pest free.

Unfortunately, the ASPCA website lists this plant as being toxic to dogs. The USDA also reports that Yews (Taxus spp.) have also caused poisoning in cattle, horses and sheep when they have eaten the trimmings. Perhaps there is an option for a low inner chainlink fence to keep your pets away from the privacy hedge and then the yew can be used?

There are many deciduous, native shrubs that could be used as an informal hedge that are not toxic to pets or humans that could be used if you could tolerate less of a privacy hedge and more of a visual screen. Change your search criteria used above to Deciduous instead of Evergreen for this group.

 

From the Image Gallery


Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

More Privacy Screening Questions

Plants for privacy screen in Edgewood TX
September 10, 2009 - Can you recommend a large fast growing tree, shrub, etc. that can give me some privacy from my neighbor across the street that likes to use his binoculars? I live in East Texas on about 10 acres.
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

Shrubs or trees for privacy screen in New Hampshire
May 30, 2009 - I am looking to put up a living privacy wall in my yard. My husband and I just bought a house in Derry, NH, and have a rather large backyard (approx. 1 acre), which seems to get continuous sun. We h...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
August 17, 2009 - Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant woul...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub/small tree for screen in southern California
August 06, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants - I would like to find an evergreen hedge, ~15-20' (or so) to screen a busy road (noise and visual). I'm zone 8b - 92539 (close to) - light snow in winter (to -25) and can ge...
view the full question and answer

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