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
3 ratings

Sunday - November 02, 2008

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

SHRUBS 

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) 

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

TREES

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
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

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Coastal pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy Screen for Heavy Clay and Full Sun in Louisiana
April 19, 2013 - What would be a fast-growing plant for privacy in Louisiana? I have heavy clay and full sun.
view the full question and answer

Need plant suggestions for a 700' long privacy screen in Wimberley, TX.
May 27, 2011 - I live in Wimberley. Tx Dot has ruined 700' of my side yard's (& back yard's) privacy by clearing all the plants/trees that had grown up in their right of way adjacent to our property. They're als...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants for a windbreak
June 13, 2008 - Our church has need to plant a windbreak. We would like fast growing native plants, preferably evergreen or really early 'leafers' to protect us from our windy season beginning in mid/late February....
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
view the full question and answer

Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
February 05, 2013 - Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.
view the full question and answer

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