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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.

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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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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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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.


 

 

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