En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Friday - January 14, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fenceline trees for Northwest Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


We live in Northwest Austin, near 183 and Anderson Mill. Our neighbor recently cut down all their trees in their backyard, which provided nice afternoon shade for us. We would like to re-plant some trees along our fenceline that would be fast growing and provide both shade and privacy. We'd be interested in both evergreen and deciduous trees.


What a fun project! When Mr. Smarty Plants recommends plants it is of the local native species; these can be reviewed by searching the “recommended species” list that can be found in the Plant Database page.   You can also narrow the search by selecting the central region of the state of Texas, “Tree” as the general appearance, and then review the records returned for your fast growth and density [privacy] requirement. 

As you might imagine, this gives a number of options; several that I like include Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), which is fast growing but a bit tall, Cercis canadensis var. mexicana (Mexican redbud) for good color, Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree)Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)Pistacia mexicana (Mexican pistachio), Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) and, for lots of color, Rhus lanceolata (Prairie flameleaf sumac). Another evergreen would be Texas sage, Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo), although it is more like a very large shrub, and also the yaupon, Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), which will give you lovely red berries in the winter.

Here’s a few pictures of some of the more interesting of these.


Catalpa speciosa        Cercis canadensis var. mexicana    Cotinus obovatus          Rhus lanceolata

 Some of these may grow a bit big for a city fenceline.  If you think so, you may want to steer the appearance towards “shrub” and look for some of the taller specimens.   I’ve got a number of colorful favorites in that list also!


More Trees Questions

Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
April 22, 2013 - I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for...
view the full question and answer

Wind damage to pecan tree in Royse City, TX
June 14, 2009 - The wind broke my pecan tree trunk in two. It is approximately 2 in caliper and about 15 feet tall. Is there a tree trunk repair?
view the full question and answer

Need help with Tulip Tree in Jacksonville,Florida
July 03, 2012 - I planted a 20 foot tall Tulip Tree last spring. The hole I dug was double the size of what the tree came in. The tree was doing well until we got tropical storm Debby. In the middle of the night t...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing trees for privacy in East Texas
September 02, 2013 - Fast growing tree seeds for my area to create a tree grove for privacy.
view the full question and answer

Quercus polymorpha or Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - On the Texas Oak Wilt Information Partnership website, they list a "Monterrey Oak" as one of the White Oaks (#3 in the FAQ section). I cannot find Monterrey Oak in your Explore Plants section; does...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center