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

Dog-proof shrubs in Woodmere NY
May 21, 2009 - My chocolate lab thinks that shrubs are the same as "fetch" sticks..she's ripped out my azalea, rhododendron, andromeda and a few others I'm not sure of the names. She's a great pup (almost 1 yr...
view the full question and answer

Failure of Rock roses to bloom in Wimberly
June 26, 2014 - How do we get our rock roses to bloom. Our bushy plant has grown well but for the last two years seed pods form directly without noticeable blooms
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy screen
August 10, 2015 - We are looking for a good plant(s) that would provide a privacy screen by our fence. We were looking at clumping bamboo (maybe black) because it grows quickly and it not too thick. The new plants woul...
view the full question and answer

Information on Betonyleaf thoroughwort
September 04, 2008 - I purchased Conoclinium betonicifolium (Betonyleaf thoroughwort) at the spring 2008 LBJ WC plant sale. I've not been able to find much information on the plant in the typical places, including the...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
June 17, 2008 - I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I wa...
view the full question and answer

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