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?


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
2 ratings

Tuesday - August 31, 2010

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy hedge, thick, fast-growing in Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I want to plant a privacy hedge in Austin Texas Edwards escarpment so it's rocky soil. Looking for something thick, fast growing and can be kept to 7'. It's along a wrought iron fence and ranges from direct sun to shaded by 15' oaks.


There are a few native shrubs that can be kept trimmed to about 7 ft, and tolerate part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or sun (6 hours or more of sun.) One thing we want to warn you about is that more and more gardeners are discovering that they cannot grow much of anything under oaks. This is partly because of the shade, partly  because of the competing roots, and partly because of allelopathy. Allelopathy is the emission of substances that impede the flourishing of plants beneath that tree. Another warning: don't try to plant the shrubs you select now, in late August/early September. It is still way too hot. Woody plants should be put in the ground in late Fall or early Winter in this part of the world, while they are in partial dormancy. This will give their roots time to develop before the Texas heat makes it imperative for those roots to be able to transmit water and nutrients from the soil up to the leaves, which are the food manufacturers for the plant. 

We will go to our Recommended Species and select Central Texas on the map, after which we will specify "shrubs" for General Appearance and "sun" or "part shade" for Light Requirements. You will need to follow each plant link to the page in our database on that plant to find out what its water needs and growing conditions are. We know you would probably prefer evergreen shrubs to help maintain privacy year-round, but that narrows the range of choice quite a bit.

Shrubs for Privacy in Georgetown TX:

Ageratina havanensis (Havana snakeroot) - 2-6 ft. tall, deciduous

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) - 3-5 ft., deciduous

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood) - 3-10 ft, deciduous

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - 12 to 25 ft., can be trimmed to hedge, evergreen

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - 3 to 5 ft., evergreen

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) - 3 to 8 ft., evergreen

Senna lindheimeriana (velvet leaf senna) - 3 to 6 ft., deciduous

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - 5 to 10 ft., evergreen

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Ageratina havanensis

Callicarpa americana

Eysenhardtia texana

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Senna lindheimeriana

Sophora secundiflora




More Privacy Screening Questions

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Boundary plants to control cats
June 06, 2006 - Is there a plant especially ANNOYING to cats that I could plant along my fence line to keep him away from the street beyond? It would have to be hardy enough for hot temps & full sun. Thanks!
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

Native evergreen trees or shrubs for privacy screen in South Carolina
April 02, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, we recently lost a grove of eleven 30+ year old white pine trees in a storm this month. They provided a natural 42'x30' screen to the front of our property and home. What type o...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center