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

Wednesday - March 16, 2011

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need Fast-Growing Screening Shrub for Arlington, TX
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

What fast growing shrub/tree could be planted along side a fence to provide additional privacy? We have a pool in our backyard and the view behind our house is less than enjoyable. We would like to block out the rear view of the neighboring house with something more soothing in appearance. Because of the pool we would like to find something that would remain green all year. Also, we have pets and young children close by. Is there such a thing?

ANSWER:

I used the Recommended Species feature from our site and chose North Central Texas.  Then I narrowed the list to only shrubs or trees that grow 6 - 12 feet high and will grow in full sun in dry conditions. Then I selected the best (for you) of the lot.

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)  should fit the bill admirably.  It is fast growing, aromatic, with berries in the fall.  Fragrant sumac likes to make lots of root shoots and build a thicket and likes to grow in drifts in nature. If you plant them in staggered rows, eventually you will get "drifts" of them kind of like you get drifts of daffodils as they multiply out from the centers.  So you could plant it in two staggered rows and it should soon start making a thicket and give you a living screen that has aromatic flowers that attract butterflies, beautiful berries that feed birds in winter, and wonderful fall leaf color. It is also disease free.  The only drawback is that it is deciduous; but, if you plant it back from the fence in two staggered rows, it will still screen as it makes thickets of stems covered with berries. Plant it a little back from the fence so it has room to send up suckers and make a thicket without moving over to your neighbor's yard.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is another shrub/tree that I got when I asked for trees that are recommended for your area.  It comes in red berry and a yellow berry form.  It will form a dense hedge and is evergreen but is slow growing so you would have to spend a lot of money to get plants that are already big enough to make a statement. It has winter berries and birds love it for nests and the berries in winter. Only the females have berries but that is usually what you buy.  You have to have a male plant nearby to provide pollen to get the berries.


Rhus aromatica

Ilex vomitoria

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
June 29, 2013 - Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Plants to augment a privacy fence in Virginia Beach.
February 24, 2009 - I live in Virginia Beach, VA and I have a small back yard about 75 ft deep and 60 ft wide. We have a six ft privacy fence but still have many undesirable views over the fence I would love to block out...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen for privacy screen
May 15, 2008 - I want to incorporate a tree in my landscaping near my house (10-15 feet) for privacy, what are the best trees that don't shed their leaves and have nice flowers and their roots wont destroy my found...
view the full question and answer

Fence Shrub for Sugarland, TX
June 08, 2015 - Hello I live in Sugar Land TX, I am looking for a fast growing shrub to plant along my six foot wood fence for a privacy screen. There is not a lot of room for them to grow in width but there is pl...
view the full question and answer

Dog-safe Privacy Screen for Ocala, FL
June 25, 2015 - Am desperately searching for fast growing privacy that would be non toxic to dogs in Ocala, Florida (zone 9 I think). Wanted Leland cypress but due to toxicity it won't work.
view the full question and answer

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