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

Fast-growing trees for privacy in East Texas
September 02, 2013 - Fast growing tree seeds for my area to create a tree grove for privacy.
view the full question and answer

Screen for highway noise in Conroe, Texas
March 18, 2010 - I have 120' of fence line which backs up to a busy highway, and now there are plans to widen it to four lanes. Is there a native tree or shrub which could help dampen the noise and block out the view...
view the full question and answer

Year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
November 02, 2010 - We need a year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for NY
February 26, 2012 - I am looking for a native evergreen shrub that could be used as a hedge or privacy screen on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens county. It is a beach community with sand soil ( except where it has been...
view the full question and answer

Screen of Thuja Occidentalis on fire-damaged property in Bastrop TX
May 04, 2013 - I want to plant a screen of Thuja Occidentalis on the east side of our driveway. It is in the burn area of Bastrop, TX. None of our trees survived. Will Thuja Occidentalis grow here? I saw some specim...
view the full question and answer

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