Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Monday - February 21, 2011

From: Seabrook, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screen for utility box in Seabrook TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Utility box cover: Thinking of using star jasmine on a three sided fence/trellis. Each side 3 ft sq. I can send a picture. Not sure best fence style to use or way to plant. Suggestions? Need coverage to grow fast and be 36-40 inches in height, East facing area gets lots of sun. Presently have small Sego Palm in front of utility boxes but too slow of growth will have to remove, HOA not happy. Better alternatives? Thank you.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Trachelospermum jasminoides, Star Jasmine, is native to China and therefore falls out of our area of expertise. It also can be quite invasive, will grow fast with longer vines. It can climb up trees or walls and can make the trees so top-heavy that they are liable to fall in a high wind. In fact, most vines will grow higher than you are planning on, and are deciduous so that you would have bare vines part of the year, not providing the coverage you are looking for.

We would recommend instead some native shrubs that can be planted, perhaps one on each side of your utility box, and trimming to remain an appropriate height. Evergreen shrubs will provide that coverage year round, and be relatively low-maintenance.

To make some selections, go to our Recommended Species section, click on East Texas on the map, which will take you to a list of native plants that should do well in your part of the state. On the sidebar at the right side of the page, select on "Shrub" under General Appearance, and "Sun" under Light Requirements, and then NARROW YOUR SEARCH. On a trial run, this gave us 11 selections, from which we chose Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) and Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon). Both are evergreen, can take the amount of sun you have, and tolerate severe hedging or pruning. Follow each plant link to the page in our website on that plant, where you can learn the proper care and amount of water needed, expected height, when it will bloom and so forth. There are also dwarf versions of both plants that would not need to be pruned quite so vigorously. 

Dwarf Shrubs for the Seabrook Area:

Dwarf Yaupon 'Nana'

Dwarf Yaupon Holly 'Schillings Dwarf"

'Stokes Dwarf'

Dwarf Morella Cerifera

Dwarf Southern Wax Myrtle

'Don's Dwarf'

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex vomitoria


Ilex vomitoria


Morella cerifera


Morella cerifera

 

 

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Vine for screening fence in Michigan
May 05, 2010 - Need a perennial vine to grow on a chain link fence, full sun, moist ground. Wanted to block view. If it flowers and/or attracts butterflies, all the better.
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing, non-poisonous evergreen vine for California
March 14, 2013 - Hi, I am in the north bay area of California, north of San Francisco, need a quick growing vine to cover a very long section of chain link fence that is not poisonous (back yard backs up to school pla...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen in Kansas City, MO
April 04, 2012 - Hello, I am located in Kansas City, MO and am looking for a wall/screen plant. Last year I used a wall of sunflowers and loved them, however I want something more hardy and something I don't have to ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen around pool in Vermont
February 08, 2009 - I am looking for a plant or tree that doesn't lose its leaves or needles that can offer privacy around my pool but not grow tall enough to block out the sun in the early and late hours. Would an ever...
view the full question and answer

Windbreak for Eastern Kansas
July 17, 2011 - I need to plant a fast growing windbreak near my lateral lines for a septic tank. We obviously can't have anything that would interfere with the laterals but I desperately need a North wind break. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.