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Wednesday - October 07, 2009

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


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 is a walking trail directly behind our home. We live in Friendswood so I know it's zone 9. We are looking for something that grows 6-9 feet fairly quickly, that's pretty but doesn't have a lot of flowers that will fall into the pool. The fence is about 10 feet from the pool. I was thinking of possibly Juniper of some type or hibicus???


You need an evergreen, fairly dense shrub. Fast-growing we can't guarantee and, in fact, don't recommend. Woody plants like trees and shrubs that grow too fast can have weak wood,  break down easily and are short-lived.

Your suggestion of a hibiscus probably wouldn't work very well. They are all deciduous, and grow to only 3 to 4 ft., which means you would have thin coverage with big flowers that would be heading for your pool in the Summer, and just bare branches in the Winter. Moreover, none of the hibiscus native to Texas seem to be native to your area in Galveston and Harris County, so they might not be compatible with your soils and climate. Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) will apparently grow in your area, but most people in Austin would tell you not to consider it. For one thing, it can grow out to be pretty wide, and 30 ft. tall. These trees, commonly called "cedars" in Central Texas, are about the most allergenic  plant around. The female bears the "cones" and the male the pollen, which turns the plant and everything around it yellow in the winter, causing much misery in anyone allergic to it, which seems to be everybody. And that yellow pollen wouldn't be too attractive on your pool area.

So let us suggest three possibilities for your pool privacy screen. All are evergreen, two have small, fairly inconspicuous flowers, and one flowers when there has been rainfall, year round. Follow the links to the page on each individual plant to learn more about its growing conditions.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - compact, 5 to 8 ft. tall, blooms purple and pink January through December, low water use, sun or part shade

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - can grow 12 to 25 ft. tall, but is easily pruned, blooms white April and May, small flowers, low water use, part shade

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12 ft., multi-trunked, blooms green in March and April, high water use, sun or part shade

From our Native Plant Database:

Leucophyllum frutescens

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera





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