En Español

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

Saturday - February 22, 2014

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Shrubs for a barrier in Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


Hello, I'm looking for a natural barrier as an alternative to a fence in my backyard. I see several other questions answered relating to this but I'm looking for something specifically as a native shrub or bush to North Texas (not a tree) I live in an area with slightly richer soil (Oakhurst) so I might be able to get away with planting things that couldn't otherwise be planted in the DFW area. The back yard fence line runs a decent length and is already partially filled with Lagerstroemia and hackberries but I'd like to fill in the spaces with something that will also encapsulate the backyard more naturally. Thanks for any help you can provide!


   I think that sounds like a great plan.  The way to get a good list of shrubs that are native to the Ft. Worth area is to use the Wildflower Centers lists of Recommended Species.  This link is to the  Texas North Central Recommended Species. 

  Searching this for shrubs, 6-36 ft [using the “Narrow Your Search” options on the right side] gives five options.  Of these:
Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) and Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) seem well suited for the application you are asking about.  Slightly less suitable are Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush), Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush), and Ilex decidua (Possumhaw). On these,  Size and Aspect seems pretty good but they may have issues in that they should have moist soil.

   I also make a practice of checking the previous Mr Smarty Plants answers.  Like you mentioned, there are a few, but these seemed to apply to your desire for shrubs.  Perhaps these are a bit different from those you mention.  [The one from Central Texas is a bit far afield, but does have a great list of local shrubs!]
Hedge in central Texas 
Variety of native tall plants for a screen in shady area near Ft. Worth 
Plants for area around pool in Plano, Texas    [lists bush and shrubs] 
Plants for pool area in Fort Worth 


From the Image Gallery

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Ilex decidua

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

More Shrubs Questions

Lack of Blooms and Low Hanging Limbs on Mountain Laurels
August 06, 2014 - My mountain laurel didn't bloom this year but has a few hard pods on it. It is 9 ft tall but very top heavy with most growth low. I need to prune it a lot at the bottom because it has branches hangi...
view the full question and answer

Native Evergreen for Shady Back Yard in IL
April 16, 2015 - I am looking for a native evergreen to provide bird shelter in my southeast facing small back yard. I would prefer a horizontal juniper but don't know if it could grow in the shade of the 8 or 9 matu...
view the full question and answer

Availability of Michigan Holly berries in Northern Michigan
November 17, 2012 - I live in Northern Michigan, and am new in the wreath making business. Last year I found Michigan Holly berries and used them for my wreaths. They have the most beautiful berries I have ever seen, a...
view the full question and answer

Yaupon hollies dying mysteriously
July 16, 2014 - I have a row of yaupon hollies (Ilex vomitoria) that I keep trimmed like a hedge. They were all healthy for many years. Two years ago one of them died and I removed it, leaving a gap in the line of h...
view the full question and answer

Difference beteen two non-native photinias from Nashville TN
June 07, 2013 - What is the difference between red tip phontinias and fireball phontinias. I read that fireballs are also called red tips but I thought that red tips grow to like 12 ft. and the tag on the fireball I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center