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

Need a privacy screen of native plants for swimming pool in Garden Ridge, TX
February 10, 2013 - We are building a pool and would like to use native plants as a screen around the fence, preferably a shrub that grows quickly to about 6 feet. Any suggestions? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
March 19, 2014 - Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at botto...
view the full question and answer

Pool-side ornamentals for south Louisiana
May 07, 2012 - We live in south Louisiana and are re-doing the plants around our pool. What are some low maintenance, small shrubs (flowering) or other ornamentals that would be good in this area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for full-sun landscape
November 20, 2007 - I live in a very rocky area just outside of Fort Worth, TX. It's taken me all spring, summer & now I'm going into the fall, to landscape just 30 feet in front of my house. The front of the house get...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
April 21, 2012 - I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leav...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center