En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 25, 2014

From: Pflugerville , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Pfluegerville Screening Hedge
Answered by: Larry & Brigid Larson


We live just north of Austin in a subdivision built on farm land so we have relatively flat land with good soil. We just put in a pool and are needing a privacy hedge along our 66 ft back fence. We need something slender at 3-4 ft wide and 10-15 ft or so high that doesn't attract alot of wasps and bees for kids with allergies to stings. Also we have 2 small dogs so something non-toxic to dogs.


This Mr. Smarty Plants answered a question really similar to this about a year ago.  They were looking for a tall, really slender tree as a privacy screen.  Here is a link to: Privacy Tree for Austin, TX .   It also has several further references to screening plants suitable to your area.

And here are some similar question/answer pairs:
Fenceline trees for Northwest Austin 
Landscaping plans in Kyle TX

I’m not sure what to do about not attracting wasps and bees.  As you review individual plant suggestions, oftentimes they have annotations that they are attractive to birds, bees or other beneficial garden denizens. Those then can become ones you avoid!

Similarly, we have questions from folks who are concerned about plants that are toxic to dogs.  The ASPCA and other organizations have lists of these plants which you can cross-check against the plants you are considering.  Here is a link about a privacy screen from somebody who was also concerned about their dogs: Landscaping plans in Kyle TX 

This answer deals very extensively with several references to plants with respect to dogs:

Is Thalia dealbata toxic to dogs? 

As I read that information, here are a few trees that I think you should seriously consider:

Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) [a bit tall and some toxic nature], Cercis canadensis var. mexicana (Mexican redbud), Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree)Pistacia mexicana (Mexican pistachio),  and   Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) [This is our Ashe Juniper, hope you don’t suffer much from Cedar Fever!]


From the Image Gallery

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Mexican redbud
Cercis canadensis var. mexicana

American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

Mexican pistachio
Pistacia mexicana

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

More Privacy Screening Questions

Need suggestions for cold resistant, hardy hedge plant in Jonathan, NC.
June 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a Full sun, cold resistant, hardy, non-invasive plant to be used for a property line hedge for North Carolina. Preferably NOT slow growing. What can you suggest?
view the full question and answer

Draought-tolerant screening shrub for Shasta County, California
July 08, 2015 - It has been suggested to me that I plant phodocarpus 'maki' along my fence for needed privacy due to it's dimensions. I need something that does not grow too wide. I would not be pruning them as I ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for shrubs for a screening barrier along a fence line in Austin, TX.
July 24, 2009 - Hi! I am new to Austin and I live in a town home community that backs up to an existing neighborhood. There is no screening on my fenceline, which is only about 30 feet from my back porch! I also ha...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for Dallas-Fort Worth area
May 18, 2010 - Our red tip photina hedge is slowly succumbing to black spot and we'll need to replace it within the year. (Yes, I now understand red tips come in two varieties: diseased and about to become disease...
view the full question and answer

Hedgerow plants non-toxic to horses
April 07, 2012 - What would be a good, fast growing, hedgerow plant that is NON-POISONOUS TO HORSES? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center