Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Blackened leaves on purple sage in Utopia TX
December 08, 2010 - I live in Utopia Texas and have a 5-ft. Texas Purple Sage that has developed a black appearance on the leaves. What is this and what can I do about it?
view the full question and answer

Thornless honeylocust trees for Taylor TX
September 21, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Williamson County, in central Texas and I am interested in selecting trees for my backyard. I can't really explain (it may be my Midwestern roots), but I would like to plant three t...
view the full question and answer

Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
June 16, 2008 - I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
view the full question and answer

Plants for red clay in Hattiesburg, MS
May 16, 2011 - Looking for plants and flowers to plant in red clay?
view the full question and answer

Submerged paving under lawn
September 07, 2008 - I had 4 patches of rectangular areas (about 4'x6'or more) in my lawn where the grass is fine in spring but totally dies in summer. I decided to till these bare patches so that grass may grow better...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.