En Español

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
1 rating

Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screen plant for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Austin Texas and am looking for a small tree or large shrub that will obscure the view from my kitchen window into my neighbors. I am looking for an evergreen plant that gets no wider than 8 feet and is at least 6 feet tall to block the window. I would like a native plant, one that will tolerate dry limestone filled soil. The tree would be located on the south side of our house. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

You probably would prefer something evergreen for this purpose, but we will also suggest some small deciduous trees that would make a lovely view out of your kitchen window, and in the winter, even the bare branches would block the view somewhat. We do want to caution you about roots and foundations. Even if you plant a small tree, you need to be aware that most of the roots will be in the upper 6 to 12 inches of soil, and can extend beyond the canopy (shadow line) of the tree. A smaller tree or shrub is not going to be much of a threat to your foundation, especially as long as you keep the soil around the foundation from settling by making sure it is kept moist during dry times. We would still suggest that you plant a shrub about 4 feet from your foundation, and a tree at least 6 feet. This will also keep the mature shrub or tree from being so close to your window that it has to be pruned back to keep it from banging on the side of the house. You didn't say, but we are assuming, since you plan to plant on the south side of your house, that it will get a fair amount of sun. We are going to go to our Recommended Species for Central Texas, and look for shrubs and trees that require sun (6 hours or more a day) to part sun (2 to 6 hours). Since they will be native to this area, they will already be adapted to our dry limestone filled soil, and require less water, fertilizer and maintenance.

Shrubs for Central Texas

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - semi-evergreen

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - evergreen

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen

Small trees for Central Texas

Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) - deciduous

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - deciduous

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - deciduous

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) - deciduous


Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Sophora secundiflora

Morella cerifera

Bauhinia lunarioides

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chilopsis linearis

Prunus mexicana

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Plants to hide utility boxes
July 16, 2008 - What are suggestions for plants to plant around utilities boxes (3 of them clustered together) to effectively camouflage them but be attractive. We will outline a larger area in brick, plant evergree...
view the full question and answer

Privacy plantings in Texas
August 16, 2008 - 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 provi...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge for Maryland Porch
July 03, 2014 - I am working on a screen/fence, which is a barrier hedge between our house and our next door neighbor's house to add privacy to our screen porch and dining area, especially in winter. The fence would...
view the full question and answer

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen and windbreak plants
June 14, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am searching for ideal plants to provide a privacy screen and windbreak for the north side of my yard. I live in Pflugerville..the soil seems mostly caliche but hits limest...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center