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Saturday - August 16, 2008

From: Carrollton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Privacy plantings in Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our home currently has a 4' chain fence. We are a family of 7 with younger aged children and are looking for more privacy. In lieu of a replacement fence, what would you recommend planting to provide privacy? My parents use honeysuckle around their fence and it seems to work very well. The only drawback are the bees (kids are afraid of them) and the fact that it might take up too much usable space in the yard. Thanks for your help!


There are a number of native shrubs that would give you evergreen privacy, and not take too long growing taller than the 4' chain link fence you have. Honeysuckle, although it does attract hummingbirds and bees, can be invasive into other plantings on your property. In addition, without something (like a tree) to permit it to climb higher, it is only going to cover the 4' fence, whereas the shrubs can be grown up to a moderate 6'. One problem is that you seemed concerned about taking up usable space in the yard. If the fence is on your property line, then the shrubs are going to have to go inside the fence. The ones we are going to suggest can be trimmed up to keep their screening properties but not jut out too much into the playspace.

We urge you to delay purchasing and planting the shrubs until at least November. Any plant struggles with being transplanted, and doing so in the heat of a Texas summer is just too much. You might spend some of the time between now and then amending the soil on the fenceline where the shrubs will go. North Central Texas is pretty much alkaline soil, and these shrubs can all grow in that, but some compost or other organic material dug into the soil will help the drainage and the texture of the soil. Work some more into the soil as you plant the shrubs, and then mulch with a shredded hardwood mulch that will both protect the roots and, as it decomposes, add more organic material to the soil. Be careful not to space the bushes too close together; they will bush out as they grow and they need light and air circulation so their growth will be thick and contribute to the screening.

When you have decided what shrubs you want, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, put your town and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape professionals in your general area. We urge you to stay with the natives, and to purchase them from companies that specialize in natives, because those plants are already adapted to the rainfall, soil and environmental conditions in which you live, thus needing less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Check the sun and water requirements of each against the conditions in your yard before you make your final selection. We tried to eliminate any shrubs that we thought would attract too many bees.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry)

Aesculus pavia var. flavescens (red buckeye)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Vauquelinia corymbosa ssp. angustifolia (slimleaf rosewood)

Ilex vomitoria

Mahonia swaseyi

Aesculus pavia var. flavescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

Rhus virens

Vauquelinia corymbosa ssp. angustifolia






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