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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - February 09, 2009

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for pool in Round Rock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a pool in our backyard and neighbors quite close on both sides. There is only a cedar fence between yards and we are desperate for some privacy! We are looking for a fast grower that will grow over 6 feet. The pool pipes prevent us from digging on one side of the yard so we will have to plant in a large planter box or use trees that will screen and can grow in containers. Can you think of anything that fits that description? Thank you!

ANSWER:

We can tell you that what you don't want is trees. Tree roots often extend three times the height of the tree, go looking for water, and have no scruples about breaking up concrete and damaging pipes. A tree would need a container about the size of your pool to even hope to survive. So, let's look at some evergreen shrubs. Even they are going to need really big containers, so be sure and talk to the people at the nursery about how big and how aggressive the roots are going to be. We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, select Central Texas on the map, and NARROW YOUR SEARCH by asking for "Shrubs" under Habit. Then we'll take a look at the results, and try to find some shrubs that will have good screening qualities, be evergreen and will grow to 6 to 8 ft. tall. This is a good time to plant shrubs, before the heat begins (which could be tomorrow, this is, after all, Texas).You will notice that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native both to North America and to the area in which they are being planted. Plants native to an area are already accustomed to the environment in terms of moisture, soil and so forth, and will thus need less fertilizer, water and maintenance. 

Follow the link on each plant to its individual page on our website to learn how tall it will get and other information on flowering, etc. When looking at plants for a pool area, remember that the term "evergreen" is something of a misnomer. Any plant will replace leaves virtually year round. Old leaves drop off and new ones grow in, so there will always be the need for cleanup to keep debris out of your pool and filter. When you find some shrubs that you think will work for you, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environmental consultants in your general area. They all have contact information so you can inquire if they have what you are looking for and directions, etc. 

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - this can get too tall, but you can ask about dwarf versions

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) 

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)


Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

 

 

 

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