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
1 rating

Friday - February 07, 2014

From: Canyon Lake, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Privacy screen for Canyon Lake, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I need some help. I live near the Guadalupe River in Canyon Lake, TX and my backyard faces a busy street. I need a fast growing thick shrub for my backyard for privacy since I cannot afford a fence at this present time.


We commend your decision to have plants for a privacy screen instead of a fence. Even if you add a fence later, the mature shrubs will help with the deadening of traffic noise. We know fencing is expensive and you probably know that plants are not necessarily cheap, but if you are willing to buy carefully and give good care, you will come out ahead in the long run.

This question is very high on our Mr. Smarty Plants Hit Parade; however, many questions are from other parts of North America, so we have chosen some from Central Texas that can give you some information. Before you go shopping, please read our Step-by-Step Guide on How to Plant a Tree. We know you are asking for shrubs, but both trees and shrubs are woody plants and should be treated the same way. If you are new gardeners, and certainly if you are new to gardening in Central Texas, we suggest you also read A Guide to Native Plant Gardening from our How-To-Articles. So, here are some previous Mr. Smarty Plants questions on similar subjects:

Buda, TX

And another from Buda, TX

Here are some more on traffic noise:

Austin, TX (with several more links)

One more note: if you are ready, we advise you to plant your shrubs as soon as possible. We ordinarily recommend planting woody plants in arid, hot Texas in December and January when they have a better chance of surviving. If you are not ready, we strongly suggest you consider spending the next few months working on the soil where your shrubs will go; incorporating compost and keeping weeds down, then buying and planting your purchases no earlier than November.



More Shrubs Questions

Huckleberries and blueberries from Vancouver WA
April 14, 2013 - Can you plant a blueberry next to a huckleberry?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen for privacy screen in San Antonio
April 30, 2012 - I am looking to plant native fast-growing evergreens that will provide privacy (growing taller than our fence). We live in San Antonio and the Red Tip Photinia seems to be everywhere! I heard that t...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Silverado Sage from Temple TX
September 24, 2012 - Hello, I've got some mature Silverado Sage. Can they be successfully transplanted or do I need to buy new plants for the next residence? I have them planted in a raised bed. I realize that IF it is ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Esperanza from Austin
June 06, 2012 - I have an Esperanza plant. I've had this plant for over 5 years. Its in a large pot. The plant has NEVER bloomed. I fertilize maybe once a month and dont seem to be over watering, only when I notice ...
view the full question and answer

Low-growing evergreen shrubs for Bellville , TX
February 02, 2010 - I live north of Bellville, TX and have a 3-tiered retaining wall on the west and north sides of my house. What low growing (around 2' tall) evergreen shrubs would be good to plant here. The west si...
view the full question and answer

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