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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 02, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We need a year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.


It's understandable to want evergreen plants for this purpose, so you can enjoy your privacy year-round. A plant native to your area is conditioned by millennia of experience to deal with the climate of the area, resist disease and get by on the rain and soil that is available. The farther north you live, the fewer evergreens are going to be available, but there are some that are very hardy. Most of the members of the genus Ilex, holly, have species that stay green with glossy leaves and red berries (on the female trees). One example is Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) which is evergreen, 12 to 25 ft., high, low water use, and can grow in sun, part shade or shade. Another holly, Ilex opaca (American holly) grows as far north as New York, and makes an excellent outdoor Christmas decoration. If you live in Texas, you might enjoy a shrub that is more ever-blue than evergreen, the Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) It has blue-green, furry leaves, is  2 to 8 ft. tall, blooms white, pink, and purple year-round, depending on rain, and grows in sun or  part shade. A good one for the Southwest is Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry), 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms yellow February to April, needs sun.


From the Image Gallery

Ilex vomitoria

American holly
Ilex opaca

Leucophyllum frutescens

Texas barberry
Mahonia swaseyi

More Privacy Screening Questions

Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
November 20, 2008 - Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety....
view the full question and answer

May 01, 2015 - Greetings! I am hoping to gain privacy on a 30' swath with existing 6' privacy fence, I need about 14' of height to hide unsightly apartments. Location is full sun without a nearby spigot, I can ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for screen in Bellville, Texas
October 03, 2009 - Would you please recommend a dense evergreen for a living screen in Bellville, TX (Austin County) that will receive full sun? Fast growing and a minimum height of 8' are preferred.
view the full question and answer

Plants for privacy shield in Austin
May 19, 2010 - 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 tog...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy screen in California
February 18, 2015 - Hello, My family and I just bought a house in Paradise CA. I want to.plant privacy plants that are native to northern California. I would like the plant to be green all year but drought resistant if...
view the full question and answer

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