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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 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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Sunday - April 14, 2013

From: Massapequa, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Dog Friendly Privacy Hedge for Long Island
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Can you please advise me of some plants for a privacy hedge that are non-toxic to dogs and that would thrive on Long Island, NY? I am looking for a hedge to grow to about 6-8 ft.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: New York, Habit - Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Leaf Retention – Evergreen, and Height Specifics – 6-12 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating light requirement (sun, part shade or shade), and soil moisture (dry, moist or wet).

Five plants were selected that you might consider:

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Jumiperus communis var. depressa (common juniper)

Leucothoe fontanesiana (drooping leucothoe). While drooping leucothoe is a great plant, it is a bit too open in its growth habit and may not make a total screening privacy hedge.

Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry)

Taxus canadensis (American yew)

Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of your privacy hedge.

Lastly, take your list of potential plants and compare them to the ASPCA list of plants toxic and non-toxic to dogs. This list is organized by scientific and common name.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Highland doghobble
Leucothoe fontanesiana

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

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