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

Wednesday - May 19, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Plants for privacy shield in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are looking for a tall hedge on the lot line between us and our neighbors. Thinking Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) would be a good choice. Question: how close should we plant them together to get both good privacy and healthy growth? Also thinking about tall Italian Blue Cypress. Same question: How close can we plant them together?

ANSWER:

Starting with the last question first, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North Amerca but to the area in which the plants are being grown. Cupressus sempervirens, Italian Blue Cypress, is native to Africa, Temperate Asia (including, of course, Cyprus) and Greece. Here is an extract from a USDA Forest Service website Cupressus Sempervirens:

"Italian Cypress is often used for framing, as a strong accent around large buildings, or in the formal landscape but does not lend itself well to many home landscapes. It quickly grows much too tall for most residential landscapes, looking much like a green telephone pole." The article also says that if they are planted 3 ft. apart, they make a dense screen.

Going back to a native plant, Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry), we have another quotation, this time from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"Although a little west of its eastern limit, Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) would be a good choice for a small evergreen tree in your landscape. You might also consider Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)." 

As a general rule, the diameter of a shrub is about equal to the height of the shrub. In other words, if you have a six-foot tall shrub, it should spread about three feet in every direction for a total of 6 feet in diameter. So, if you want a screen effect, a distance of 5 to 6 ft., trunk to trunk would allow the outer tips of the shrubs to mesh. You can plant them closer if you wish, but they would begin to shade each other, and the interiors of the plants would become scraggly and less of a screen. 

Pictures of Cupressus sempervirens from Google

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Prunus caroliniana

Prunus caroliniana

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

 



 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy screen for garden and pool in California
October 13, 2008 - I need a fast growing screen for privacy. Here are the issues:1. we have a 3 story apartment building looking right into our backyard. so trees need to be at least 15' tall and dense. 2. we have a po...
view the full question and answer

Hedgerow plants non-toxic to horses
April 07, 2012 - What would be a good, fast growing, hedgerow plant that is NON-POISONOUS TO HORSES? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for privacy screen in Austin
March 11, 2008 - I would like some suggestions for plants to form a privacy screen between our backyard and our neighbor's. The site is shady, under old Texas Ash and pecan trees, and is located in North central Aust...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen in Kansas City, MO
April 04, 2012 - Hello, I am located in Kansas City, MO and am looking for a wall/screen plant. Last year I used a wall of sunflowers and loved them, however I want something more hardy and something I don't have to ...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for privacy from Larchmont NY
April 19, 2014 - Love your site! We have a 4'x4'x50' stone wall, full sun, with a planting bed 30"H by 24"D. We're looking for privacy, so a hedge with pruning is needed. We have looked at Ilex Crenata (8'),...
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