En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 24, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need suggestions for shrubs for a screening barrier along a fence line in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Hi! I am new to Austin and I live in a town home community that backs up to an existing neighborhood. There is no screening on my fenceline, which is only about 30 feet from my back porch! I also have a plethora of power lines running above the fence line, which is unattractive to say the least. I need advice on evergreen shrubs and trees that I can plant which will complement each other, and hopefully grow fast! (without overtaking the power lines and being cut down by Austin Energy) Thanks!


Well, we can't do much about the power lines, but this bulletin from Austin Energy states that trees within 20' of their power lines should be no more that 25' tall at maturity. I think we can find some suggestions that will fit within that limit.

These first three shrubs/trees are fast-growing, evergreen and grow well in the Austin area :

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)     can grow up to 20'

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)  can grow 8 - 12'

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry)   can grow 15 - 20'

The final two are also evergreen, grow well in Austin, and would make a very good privacy hedge. Unfortunately, they are slower growing than the first three:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)    can grow 12 - 25'

Sophora secundiflora (mountain laurel)   can grow up to 30'

Clicking on each of these names will bring up its NPIN page which describes the characteristics and growth requirements of the plant.

You can come up with your own list by going to our RECOMMENDED SPECIES page  and clicking on Central Texas on the map. This will give you a list of 155 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. Go to the Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the page and select Texas under STATE, Shrub under APPEARANCE, Perennial under LIFESPAN, and check the appropriate box under  LIGHT REQUIREMENT and SOIL MOISTURE. Click the Narrow Your Search button and your list is shortened to include only the plants that meet these criteria. By changing the criteria, you can generate different lists. Clicking on the names of each plant will bring up its NPIN page.

Our Suppliers Directory  can help you find businesses that sell these native plants.



More Privacy Screening Questions

Native plants for privacy screen in Austin
March 11, 2008 - I would like some suggestions for plants to form a privacy screen between our backyard and our neighbor's. The site is shady, under old Texas Ash and pecan trees, and is located in North central Aust...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for privacy hedge in New River, AZ.
June 05, 2012 - Hi! I live on a acre that is fenced and cross-fenced with 6' chain link. I am desperate to find a drought tolerant, very low water, non-toxic, fast growing privacy hedge or vine that I can plant arou...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Liberty Hill TX in full sun
April 15, 2008 - We recently bought an acre of land in Liberty Hill, TX. We have a large planting area in the front that is devoid of any plant life. I would like to turn this into a semi shaded area with some annua...
view the full question and answer

Hankering for a view-blocking hedge in Hempstead, TX.
July 03, 2013 - Hempstead is 50 miles west of Houston and I am looking for a fast growing native to provide a block of a view for a fairly large area (about half a block). I would prefer something that is also benef...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing hedge for North Carolina.
February 17, 2009 - I am looking for a fast-grownig evergreen hedge that can be kept no taller than 6 feet. It will be grown in partal sun facing north
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center