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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 31, 2009

From: Westminster, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrub or small tree to hide walls in southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have multiple issues in our back yard in 92683, and will probably need an assortment of plants to accomplish it. In a nutshell, here are the basics we were hoping to fix: 1) Ugly 5 & 6 foot block walls need to be hidden, 2) Plants should grow above walls to provide additional privacy, 3) Small yard, so minimal girth on plants at least below 5', 4) Dog eats everything, so must be non-toxic, and preferably minimal debris, 5) Our soil is a bit silty and dries out fast, and last 6) easy maintenance. Hopefully you have some ideas we can try.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants would like to refer you to the California-Southern Recommended list for commercially available native plants suitable for landscaping in southern California.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the list to 'Shrubs' or 'Trees' and make the choices yourself.  You can then check your choices against the list, Poisonous Plants Commonly Occurring in Southern California by Owen E. Dell, to be sure your plants are not toxic.  You can also check your choices against the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina and the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System databases. Here is also a list of Common Poisonous Plants for pets from the Humane Society of the United States.  

Here are a few plants chosen from the California-Southern Recommended list that are not toxic and meet your other criteria above.  There are many more to choose from.

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

One of the many Arctostaphylos species (manzanitas) native to southern California. 

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood)

Ceanothus impressus (Santa Barbara ceanothus)

Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens (stretchberry)

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)

Prosopis velutina (velvet mesquite)


Amorpha fruticosa

Arctostaphylos pungens

Chilopsis linearis

Cornus nuttallii

Ceanothus impressus

Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens

Fremontodendron californicum

Prosopis velutina

 


 

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