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

Saturday - June 04, 2011

From: Commerce, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need native plants for wind block and screening along a fence row in Commerce, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I'm looking for a small tree or lg shrub for wind block & screening along a fence row. The soil is black clay with a mostly full sun exposure. Landscaper suggested Elaeagnus but I want a native. Thanks!


First, I’ll direct you to four publications that explain the “what, when, where, and why” of  windbreaks. These cover the reasons for planting windbreaks, their design, and plant selection.

Iowa State University  Extension;

     Publication 1716, 

      Publication 1717.

USDA-NRCS;  WIndbreaks , Their Use

Department of Natural Resources, State of Ohio; Why Plant A Windbreak

For further plant selection, let me introduce you to the Native Plant Database. We can use it to help us select some plants for your situation. One way of using the Database is to go to the Recommended Species Lists. Click on “View Recommended Species Page”, and then click on East Texas on the map. This will bring up 133 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in East Texas. This is more information than you need, so go to the Narrow Your Search box to the right of the window and make the following selections: select Texas under State, Shrub under habit, and Perennial under duration. Check the appropriate boxes under Light Requirement and Soil Moisture for your location. Click on the Narrow Your Search button and the list is reduced. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that has plant characteristics, growth requirements and photos.  As you check through the list note the light requirements, moisture requirements, preferred soil types of the plants you are considering.

Here are a couple of links that can help you deal with your clay soil.
Bachmans Gardens  

fine Gardening  

This link to the USDA-Forest Service sort of sums up our feelings about Elaeagnus.




More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy screen for barn from Washington TX
April 27, 2013 - We live on a large ranch and have someone now next to us that built a barn on our fence line that we want to make a tree barrier to hide it, so we need to plant trees that will grow at least 15-29 fee...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
August 02, 2013 - I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foo...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for screen
May 01, 2008 - I'd like your recommendation for an evergreen shrub (flowers would be a nice bonus but not as necessary as the evergreen factor) or small tree with a height hopefully under 12' and a width hopefully...
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

Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
January 06, 2014 - I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae a...
view the full question and answer

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