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

Thursday - August 07, 2008

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Shrubs/trees for screen
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need several trees/tall shrubs for a screen well away from the house. The important height range is in the 4-7' range for effective screening. Soil is caliche rich but can be amended, sun will be full, and they will get minimal water after they are established. A fence will be installed for the first year or two to protect them from drought stressed deer. I've come up with Desert Willow, Wax Myrtle, Yaupon Holly, Mountain Laurel and Evergreen Sumac as possibly usable natives. Can I get an educated opinion on the suitability of one or more of these (or other) choices, esp. with respect to deer damage? Other issues include the growth rate, size and height of the crown for an effective screen. Thanks for any help you can offer.


All the species you named would work, but some better than others and I have a few additions. First of all, Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) would be my last choice even though it is a very attractive shrub/tree. It is moderately deer resistant, but it is not evergreen and its foliage can be rather airy and not provide a good screen.

All the remainder appear on the Deer Resistant list.

The two fastest growing ones are Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) and one that I added, Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), and both should provide a reasonably dense screen.

The other three you named, Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) and Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) are a bit slower growing but they would also be an effective screen.

Two other evergreens although somewhat slow-growing, Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) and Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry), are also worth considering.

Chilopsis linearis

Morella cerifera

Leucophyllum frutescens

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Sophora secundiflora

Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia swaseyi



More Privacy Screening Questions

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Fence Shrub for Sugarland, TX
June 08, 2015 - Hello I live in Sugar Land TX, I am looking for a fast growing shrub to plant along my six foot wood fence for a privacy screen. There is not a lot of room for them to grow in width but there is pl...
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

Shrubs and trees to protect beehives in Godley TX
April 06, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is there a (relatively) fast growing native small tree or large shrub (NOT cedar) that tolerates Johnson County clay, full sun, sometimes damp and sometimes dry soil with no...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for pool in Round Rock, TX
February 09, 2009 - We have a pool in our backyard and neighbors quite close on both sides. There is only a cedar fence between yards and we are desperate for some privacy! We are looking for a fast grower that will gr...
view the full question and answer

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