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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 07, 2011

From: North Richland Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Looking for a shrub to provide shade to the west side of a home in Ft. Worth, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


We are on a corner lot and are looking for a tall tree or shrub to block the west side of our house. There is only a 5 foot area space between the sidewalk and side driveway where we want to plant the tree/shrub. We would like something that will not bother the foundation yet provide ample shade upon maturity due to the fact that we live in the Fort Worth, Texas area.


Putting a tree in that small space could have two possible outcomes: 1) a poorly growing tree, or 2) a healthy tree but cracked sidewalk and driveway. (actually, there are probably more possibilities).

This link from the Texas Forest Service has good information about selecting tree sizes and their space requirements.

An alternative is to plant shrubs that will grow to sufficient size to shade the west side of the house, but have a less extensive root system than a tree. I have a short list for your consideration of both evergreen shrubs and deciduos shrubs. The deciduous shrubs will provide cover for the house during the summer, but allow the sun to warm the side of the house once their leaves are gone.

 Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)  evergreen 

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)   evergreen 

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)  evergreen 

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac)  deciduous 

 Castanea pumila (Chinkapin)  deciduous  (more pictures)

Ilex decidua (Possumhaw)     deciduous   

 For more choices,  go to the Native Plant Database and check it out. After clicking on the link, scroll down to the Combination Search Box, and make the following selections: choose Texas under State, Shrub under Habit, and Perrenial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, and Dry under Soil moisture. Click the "Submit combination Search" button and you will get a list of 87 native species occurring in Texas that meet these parameters. Clicking on the name of each plant will bring up its NPIN database page that contains the plant's characteristics, its growth requirements as well as pictures.

A third alternative is to plant a vine on a trellis. A deciduous vine would also allow the winter sun to shine through to warm the wall of the house. To look at choices, go back to the Combination Search Box on the Native Plant Database page. This time choose Vine under habit, leaving all of the other choices the same, click the "Submit combination Search" button, and you will get a list of 14 plants that match the parameters.

For additional help, contact the folks at the Tarrant County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

Rhus virens

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera

Rhus glabra

Ilex decidua






More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with wildflowers in shade in Maryland
January 11, 2008 - I'm an old White House Correspondent who covered LBJ as well as Mrs Johnson and knew and admired her. I visited the Wildflower Center with her on one occasion. I hope you will forward this to an appr...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtle or cherry laurel in Austin?
November 15, 2009 - For a very shady area under a large old oak tree with oak toxic soil, would a Wax Myrtle or a Cherry Laurel (caroliniana) be better? Looking for an evergreen screening tree up to 20ft, but it only get...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

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