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
10 ratings

Tuesday - August 12, 2008

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrub to hide chain link fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Mr. Smarty Plants, Please recommend a tall, thick shrub to conceal the 6 foot chain link fence around the perimeter of our property. The fence is located down a hill from our home with western exposure and full sun. While we can run a soaker hose down there to establish the roots, I would love to have tall shrubs that will conceal the fence, act as a noise barrier from the street and require no watering throughout the summer. Is there such a plant? The nursery recommended red tip photinias but after reading your article about disease with these plants, I'm reconsidering. Thank you for your advice.


Well, Mr. Smarty Plants certainly wouldn't recommend redtip photinia (Photinia X fraseri) since not only is it not a plant native to North America, but it is also on the TexasInvasives.org list. You will see that TexasInvasives.org recommends two substitutes: Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) and Rhus virens (evergreen sumac). Both are evergreen and drought tolerant.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is another evergreen, drought-tolerant choice that has the advantage of being fast growing.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) and Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) are both evergreen and drought-tolerant, but are slower growing.

One other possibility is Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). It normally grows into a tree, but can be pruned to form a hedge. It is evergreen, drought-tolerant and would form the thickest hedge of the ones mentioned.

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia swaseyi

Juniperus virginiana




More Shrubs Questions

Non-native astilbe resemblance to non-native poisonous castor bean from Tomslake BC
May 21, 2014 - I have a plant that looks like a castor bean but it has flowers like a Younique Silvery Pink Astilbe. Need to id because castor bean is poisonous. This plant grows up to 5 feet in height. Thank you !
view the full question and answer

Problems with blueberries from Kernersville NC
April 29, 2012 - My blueberry plants have no leaves or scrawny ones. I have 13 plants, 5 of them are like this.
view the full question and answer

Shape of common ninebark in Canton MI
April 24, 2010 - I have planted one center glow ninebark in a triangular area in between my front walk and driveway. It looks a little odd just having one plant, but I originally did this b/c of the mature plant heig...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for restoring a North Carolina pond site
April 12, 2011 - I reconstructed the dam to a 50 year old cattle pond at our high-end residential development in Charlotte, NC. There are many large mature trees around the pond but also some good sun exposure at two ...
view the full question and answer

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