En Español

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
1 rating

Thursday - September 01, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a fast-growing shrub to "extend" the height of my fence and provide privacy in my yard in Austin. My lot is pretty much full sun and very dry, mostly clay soil. 8' is my goal. Thanks!

ANSWER:

  I think I have some shrubs that will fit your request pretty well.  My process is to use the recommended species list for Central Texas, and then narrow the selection to shrubs, 6-12 feet in height.

  That only gave seven results, but three of them are native varieties of Sumacs which thrive on low water, dry soils and grow to around 10 feet in height!  That sounds real close to your request to me! The Fragrant sumac in my garden is doing very well in this drought season. It is well established and has not required any watering so far. Rhus glabra has a lovely fall color.

Check them out here:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) grows to 6-12 ft.

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) grows to 10-20 ft.

and Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)  is listed as 8-12 ft.  I've included pictures of them as full plants below.

  There were three other choices that weren't related.  Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood) had similar growth characteristics while Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) and Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) are common screen plant choices [and still native to Central Texas] but require moist soils and more water.

I hope this gives you a good set of choices for your fenceline!

 

From the Image Gallery


Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Replacing St. Augustine with native grass in Austin
February 24, 2012 - We are renting a house our Sister-in-law owns- the St Augustine is in tough shape, drought and lack of care over the years. Could we plant a native grass or do we have to pull up the remaining St. Aug...
view the full question and answer

Straw that broke the camel's back.
September 01, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I keep forgetting which day I am supposed to water and my St. Augustine lawn has turned into the neighborhood eyesore. Where can I go to learn more about this drought tolera...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
April 20, 2013 - Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut t...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant vine for Austin, Texas
May 17, 2014 - What kind of drought-tolerant vine can I plant outside my screened in porch in Austin, Texas, that will stay on a trellis and not grow into the screen?
view the full question and answer

Water-saving strategies of drought-tolerant plants
April 04, 2014 - Although "drought tolerant" plants are fairly well documented, it's clear that many different strategies are responsible, such as a huge root system (like Mesquite). I'm interested in learning the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center