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

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

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Barrier Planting in Boston
January 29, 2013 - I live in the Boston area and a school is being built right behind my property. The school kindly left me a 100' barrier that includes some 40' high pines, a couple of tall oaks and some spindly po...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for privacy from Larchmont NY
April 19, 2014 - Love your site! We have a 4'x4'x50' stone wall, full sun, with a planting bed 30"H by 24"D. We're looking for privacy, so a hedge with pruning is needed. We have looked at Ilex Crenata (8'),...
view the full question and answer

Looking for shrubs to replace Photinia as a privacy screen in Arlington, VA.
February 08, 2011 - Suggestions to replace diseased red tipped photinia. Looking for hardy privacy screen type of evergreen, not too deep with height of approx. 10-12' Thank you
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Amber Jubilee Ninebark in California
November 22, 2014 - AMBER JUBILEE bush separating my neighbor and me, is spreading its roots into our water pipes. Want to rip out. What plants are root friendly and also give you privacy?
view the full question and answer

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