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Sunday - November 02, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreen hedge for screen in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are looking for a tall, fast growing, drought tolerant, evergreen hedge to run along our ~200' back property line in West Lake, west of Austin, TX. This is at the bottom of a slope, and runs through both full sun and full shade. It is far from any hose, so won't get much water. The living room windows overlook the property line and the neighbor's back yard, so ideally it should be able to reach 15' tall, but it also runs under the power lines and so it can't get too tall.


First off, we're not satisfied with the word "hedge." That always brings to mind something squared-off and boxy looking, and somewhat unnatural. How about calling it a "linear grove"? (We just made that up.) We have in mind several shrubs we can recommend for your purposes, all evergreen, but they are not all going to grow uniformly, especially when they transition from sun to shade. You'd probably be happier leaving them casual and mostly untrimmed, because if they manage to get up to 15' tall, it's going to be a challenge to prune them back and keep them out of the power lines. Also, you can mix your choices according to the amount of sun or shade each area receives and each plant requires.

We're going to suggest two ways of going about this. We'll recommend several evergreen shrubs that fill most of your requirements, and you can pick one and repeat it all the way down the 200' involved. But, we'll also suggest some deciduous, more decorative and interesting small trees that can break up the line, add color when they bloom, and blend in with the evergreen shrubs when their own leaves have fallen. Follow each plant link to our Native Plant Database page on that plant, see how tall you can expect them to get, what sun or shade they will tolerate, etc. Also, at the bottom of each plant page is a link to a Google search on that plant, so you can pick up even more information. Since these were chosen from our Central Texas Recommended Species they should all do well in your Austin soil and moisture.

One warning, though: No matter how drought resistant a plant may be, they will need some watering in the first few months after they are planted. Hopefully, you are planning to plant them between now and February, during their dormant periods, but they will still need water, and may need it continuing into the hot season if we don't get some rain. We hope, since this sounds like a really big job, that you are enlisting some help from our Native Plant Suppliers. Type your town and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get the names of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in the Austin area. They will be in a better position to recommend spacing, soil amendments (if any), and watering requirements. And, hopefully, provide the manpower to plant.


Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) 

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)


Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)


From the Image Gallery

Ilex vomitoria

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Coastal pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

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