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
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

Difficulty of watering at drip line of trees from The Woodlands TX
August 18, 2011 - I'm watering my couple dozen native mature trees to make sure they survive this drought and its aftermath..and I'm reading about how to water at the drip line. But..all of my trees' drip lines ext...
view the full question and answer

Difference in acorn yields from Georgetown TX
December 27, 2012 - Why do some live oaks produce acorns in abundance and others do not?
view the full question and answer

Companion plants for Douglas fir in Federal Way, WA
May 11, 2009 - What are good companion plants for large Douglas Fir trees? we have 5 large trees in our cul-de-sac "island" and would like to plant something colorful around the trees. It's very dry, shady, and c...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Ash in Cibolo TX
May 14, 2010 - I have a Texas Ash tree I planted two years ago. The tree was 10 feet high with thick foliage. This spring the leaves started falling off after I spread fertilizer on my yard. The end of the branches ...
view the full question and answer

Small tree for Northern California backyard
March 05, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a small tree for backyard (west side of house). I'm replacing a Calif.Laurel which is not doing well because it is planted on a downward slope and gets too m...
view the full question and answer

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