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
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

Privacy hedge, thick, fast-growing in Georgetown TX
August 31, 2010 - I want to plant a privacy hedge in Austin Texas Edwards escarpment so it's rocky soil. Looking for something thick, fast growing and can be kept to 7'. It's along a wrought iron fence and ranges fr...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen by pool in Friendswood, TX
October 07, 2009 - We just moved into a new home with a pool in the backyard. We are trying to figure out what to plant along the back fence to allow for a bit of privacy; we have no direct backyard neighbors but there...
view the full question and answer

Hedgerow to block sounds and scenes of traffic
May 01, 2011 - What would make the best year round hedgerow to block the sight and sounds of traffic 60 feet from my house?
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge Plant for CA
January 26, 2016 - We recently moved into a new home right on the border of Cherry Valley and Beaumont, Ca. We are at an elevation of 2,900 ft. We are looking for a plant that we can use as a privacy hedge along our bac...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy screen
August 10, 2015 - We are looking for a good plant(s) that would provide a privacy screen by our fence. We were looking at clumping bamboo (maybe black) because it grows quickly and it not too thick. The new plants woul...
view the full question and answer

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