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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 01, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Noise reduction hedge row in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live just one house back from the freeway and would like to plant a fast growing noise reduction 'hedge row' - close growing to 20-40 ft. We are looking at Leyland Cypress but know they aren't native to Texas. What are our choices? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Actually, x cuprocyparis leylandii, (Leyland Cypress) is not native to anywhere; it is an accidental hybrid between a Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) and Cupressus nootkatensis (Alaska cedar) when they were both in an English garden in the 1800's. The hybridization would have never happened otherwise, because the native areas of the two were 400 miles apart, in North America. Even if they were native to Texas, we would not recommend their use; see these two websites on the subject:

From About.com: Forestry Reconsider Planting Leyland Cypress in your Yard.

North Carolina State University Plant Pathology Extension Diseases of Leyland Cypress

We will try to find you a shrub or tree that would help dull the noise from the freeway, and we can certainly understand why you want it to grow FAST!  Unfortunately, like the Leyland Cypress, fast-growing trees tend to be short-lived, to break down easily and sometimes do not have sufficient roots to support the extra height in a storm. You need something dense and evergreen, because the freeway still runs in winter, when the leaves are off deciduous plants. Some of these are classified as shrubs, some as trees. Unless you have a solid, noise barrier fence at the back of your property, you will probably not want to trim these up into tree form, but allow them to grow branches up from the ground. All are evergreen and native to the Houston area, and all grow within the stipulated ranges. Follow each link to the page on that individual plant for more information on its culture, bloom time and moisture requirements.

Sound barrier hedge plants for Houston:

Gordonia lasianthus (loblolly bay) - ranges from 30 to 80 ft

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - 12 to 25 ft. tall

Ilex opaca (American holly) - 20 to 60 ft.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) - 30 to 40 ft.

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) - to 50 ft. tall

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) - 12 to 20 ft. tall

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) - 15 to 20 ft. tall

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Gordonia lasianthus

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex opaca

Juniperus virginiana

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia virginiana

Prunus caroliniana

 

 

 

 


 

 

More Trees Questions

Looking for a tree to plant as a memorial in Leesburg, GA.
September 09, 2010 - I'm looking for tree to plant as memorial to my brother who died. It must be native, for South Georgia, zone 8, open fields. It should provide mast for wildlife. Heat zone 8, good drought-tolerance. ...
view the full question and answer

How to tell the girls from the boys in wax myrtles (Morella cerifera)
May 14, 2010 - How would I be able to identify whether my wax myrtles are male or female plants? I was given two plants last fall (that came from a family members back yard) and the person who gave them to me didn'...
view the full question and answer

Oak sprouts in flower bed in Colleyville TX
April 04, 2011 - We have a raised flower bed in our back yard that includes 2 live oak trees. We have a TON of shoots that keep popping up and make our bed look very untidy. My husband doesn't think the shoots are ...
view the full question and answer

Best time to trim oak trees to avoid oak wilt
June 08, 2008 - When is the best time to trim oak trees? Concerned regarding oak wilt if cut at wrong time. Ball moss is not harmful but will it help or harm if trees trimmed. These are large oak trees. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Tree for memorial in Levittown NY
August 09, 2010 - I am planning a tree planting memorial in Wantagh Park and I don't know what will be hardy enough to grow there. There are the constant breeze and salt water elements to deal with there and of course...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center