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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 08, 2006

From: Richmond, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native drought resistant evergreen plants for privacy hedgein clay soil in Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

My family would like to create privacy around our 4 acres of fence line. What native evergreen or fast growing bushes would work? We have terrible clay soil and need drought resistant plants.

ANSWER:

Here are four suggestions ranked by maximum height from smallest to largest:

1. Dwarf wax myrtle, Morella pusilla (5-6 feet)
2. Wax myrtle, Morella cerifera (6-12 feet)
3. Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria (12-25 feet)
4. Eastern red-cedar, Juniperus virginiana (more than 40 feet)

All are evergreen, drought resistant, tolerate clay soils, and are commercially available. The wax myrtles will need water until they are well-established, but then should do fine in drought conditions. All but the yaupon are relatively fast growing. If your soil is the shrink-swell waxy-type clay that's had the loamy topsoil stripped away, you might consider planting native grasses in with the native woody plants to break up the clays over time with their fibrous roots, allowing for better moisture retention. You might consider planting a combination of both the wax myrtle and dwarf wax myrtle interspersed with the cedar and yaupon. Your particular habitat and soil may favor better growth in one or more of these. You can then add more of the ones that grow more rapidly. The slower growing yaupon will add variety and interest as well as berries for birds and other wildlife.

You can find nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants by visiting the National Suppliers Directory.
 

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