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?

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
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
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 Shrubs Questions

Propagation of Simsia calva from Albuquerque NM
January 27, 2014 - Hi - I was given some simsia calva seed from the LBJ wildflower center. It doesn't have a lot of info about starting the seeds, so any help is much appreciated! I tried starting some outdoors last ye...
view the full question and answer

Bugs eating new growth on Mountain Laurel shrubs from Dripping Springs TX
April 02, 2013 - What is eating the new growth on my mountain laurel shrubs? One plant has red bugs and the other has black (could they be love bugs?). Is there something I can do to preserve the new growth?
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to withstand dog traffic in Michigan
November 02, 2010 - I need a soft ground cover that will grow in sand, and be able to take four big dogs that love to run in the yard. Grass just doesn't make it. Someone suggested that groundcover might work. Thanks...
view the full question and answer

Powdery mildew hits Rock Rose in Round Rock Texas
May 05, 2011 - My beautiful Rock Roses have gotten spots of white fuzzy "fur" on their leaves in the past month. This is not something they have ever had before and I'm worried its some kind of disease. Is it so...
view the full question and answer

Spring care for Garrya ovata from Pflugerville, TX
February 24, 2014 - Hello again, Mr. S-P, I planted a Mexican silktassel in April 2012 (purchased at the WFC). It has done well, but the leaves are bronzed and splotchy from this winter's freezes. All the stems are...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center