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

Monday - November 23, 2009

From: Comfort, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Plant screen for Comfort TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My house sits on a hill between Fredericksburg and Comfort. Darn, if my neighbors didn't build so close to my property line that I can see into their cabin when the trees drop their leaves in the fall. Is there anything at all that I can plant to create privacy along a slope to hide their house? I mean something like Bamboo--that just takes over and gets really tall--I know I can't do that since I exist solely on rain water, but is there any native plant at all fairly similar? I'd really appreciate some help.

ANSWER:

You must not live in an area where minimum distances between a structure and the property line are required, worse luck. Bamboo is not only a bad idea because you are in what is ordinarily a pretty arid climate, but also because it can be extremely invasive, and simply take over. See this invasives.org website on Phyllostachys aurea, Golden bamboo for more reasons why you don't want that. In addition, bamboo is native to China. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. 

It also would be difficult to get any screening shrubs growing without some supplemental water, especially in the first months after planting, and it would take several years for even the faster growing shrubs to get up high enough to give you any real screening. Without knowing what height you need to cut off the view of your neighbors' window, we are going to recommend some really tall native grasses (bamboo, by the way, is also a grass, member of the family Poaceae) and a couple shrubs for starters. Beyond that, about all we can think of is a tall fence, or suggesting curtains to your neighbors.

Follow each link to the page on that plant to learn its expected height and culture needs. Obviously, you need something evergreen, as you already pointed out you couldn't see into the other building until the leaves started dropping. 

Grasses for screening in Central Texas:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - warm season perennial, 4 to 8 ft tall

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) - 3 to 8 ft. tall

Shrubs for screening in Central Texas:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) 12 to 25 ft. tall, evergreen

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - 8 to 12 ft, evergreen

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - to 30 ft. tall, evergreen, poisonous seeds

From the Native Plant Image Gallery:


Andropogon gerardii

Sorghastrum nutans

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Rejuvenating an old Wax myrtle hedge
February 15, 2016 - I have 8 wax myrtles that were planted about 9 years ago as a screen from our neighbors. They are about 12 feet high. During the past 9 months they are getting thinner and thinner. Two of them hav...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Amber Jubilee Ninebark in California
November 22, 2014 - AMBER JUBILEE bush separating my neighbor and me, is spreading its roots into our water pipes. Want to rip out. What plants are root friendly and also give you privacy?
view the full question and answer

Spacing for wax myrtles as screen in Texas
December 21, 2008 - I have bought 30 wax myrtles, 15 gallon sized, and would like to plant them along my fence line, as a screen. How far apart is the recommended distance when planting plants of this size? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Replacement evergreens under power line in Wisconsin
April 11, 2013 - I have to replace evergreen trees in a privacy screen due to borer damage. The screen is below power lines so the replacements cannot be tall. I would like use bird and pollinator friendly replaceme...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
August 19, 2013 - We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They ar...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center