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

Wednesday - May 13, 2009

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for Santa Rosa CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a very fast growing privacy hedge/screen, 15-20 ft., requires not much pruning. I want an evergreen with not a lot of mess. The area gets full sun and after the plant is established, it will get minimum water.

ANSWER:

Fast growing, minimum water, evergreen, low maintenance, tidy, 15 to 20 ft. tall; boy, wouldn't we all like to find that? In California, we can probably find some evergreen plants, but they may not get up to 15 to 20 ft. We have observed that fast-growing trees and shrubs tend to have weak wood, to break down, and are short-lived. And, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we only recommend plants that are not only native to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, so you're not going to hear anything from us about "instant privacy," "shade in a year," or any of those other claims. Just the facts, ma'am.

After going to our Recommended Species section, clicking on Northern California, and searching on first shrubs and then trees for some plants that will meet at least some of your specifications, we found exactly one shrub and two trees that even came close.You can use the same technique to go back to our Native Plant Database and find others that might work for you. Follow the plant link to the webpage for each individual plant, read all the information, and follow the Google link at the bottom of the page for even more information. You did not specify if you needed plants for shade or sun, so we will be looking at plants that have low to medium water usage, and let you know what light requirements each one has.

Shrub for Northern California

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) - evergreen, 15 to 20 ft. tall, blooms white June to September, sun, part shade or shade. low water use. Pictures

Trees for Northern California

Juniperus occidentalis (western juniper) - evergreen, 15 to 50 ft., low water use, sun. Pictures and more information

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) - evergreen, 20 to 30 ft., medium water use, sun. Pictures and more information


Heteromeles arbutifolia

Pinus contorta

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen screening tree for Wichita Falls TX
November 25, 2015 - Recommendations for a screen plant. Dry. full sun. 20 to 30 ft.high. evergreen. Wichita Falls, TX location.
view the full question and answer

Fast Growing Shrub for Oceanside New York Site
April 17, 2015 - Can you recommend a tall, fast-growing shrub for a sandy location (near an ocean beach in New York) in full sun? Iím looking for a privacy shield.
view the full question and answer

Impenetrable privacy hedge in Wimberly, TX.
July 26, 2011 - I live near Wimberly, TX. I'd like to grow an impenetrable privacy hedge about 200' long and at least 10' tall and 10' deep (or more) using native plants. I'd like it to be evergreen, drought t...
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

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