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

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

Large shrubs for privacy screen in VA
October 12, 2010 - Tonight my husband and I took down two large shrubs about 15' tall and spread across our yard to provide mostly privacy from the road and traffic noise. My question is this, since it's the front of ...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant privacy plants for Flagstaff AZ
March 19, 2013 - We need a fast growing drought tolerant tree that will grow in Flagstaff AZ/Parks AZ. Neighbors are hoarders and we want privacy fence to cover the mess. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Shrub for privacy screen
June 22, 2008 - Hi, We live in Aptos near the ocean. However, what you suggest to plant near our fence to screen out the one story house behind us. They have a large tree near in their backyard that sits against our...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening from Phoenix AZ
April 14, 2013 - I live in the center of Phoenix, Az. On the eastern side of my house we have some 2 story condos next door. The width of the side yard is about 12'-15' and it gets lots of shade. I also have my powe...
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence in Bentonville, Arkansas
June 12, 2013 - I have about 600 LF of 8ft high chain link fence I would like to grow vines on in Northwest Arkansas for screening. I would like some to cover quickly but be maintenance friendly. I heard alternating ...
view the full question and answer

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