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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - September 21, 2011

From: Chappell Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Need suggestions for plants for a privacy screen for a pecan orchard in Chappell Hill, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, My family has just begun converting our land in Chappell Hill, TX (Washington County) into a pecan orchard. We had to clear a lot of the overgrowth around the edge of the property, and the guys who did the job took it a little too far. Our land is now pretty visible from both 290 and the surrounding area. I was wondering what kind of plants make a good privacy/noise blocking screen in Texas. It has been so dry lately and I don't know what will like that much sun. The property covers a total of 16 acres, so we need something relatively tall and lots of it! Thank you so much!

ANSWER:


For starters, let me introduce you to our Native Plant Database which will help you select plants for your situation. The Database  contains 7,161 plants that are searchable by scientific name or common name. There are several ways to use the Database, but we are going to use the Recommended Species List.  To do this, go to the Native Plant Data Base and scroll down to the Recommended Species List box. Clicking on the map will enlarge it so that you can click on East Texas. This will bring up a list of 133 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Texas. That is probably too many, so you can go to the “Narrow Your Search” box on the right  of the screen and make the following selections: select Texas under State, Tree under Habit, and Perennial under Lifespan. Check Sun under Light Requirement, Dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Narrow Your Search button and your list shrinks to ten species. Notice that there is now a Leaf Retention category in the Narrow Your Search box. Check Evergreen and then click the Narrow your search button, and your list shrinks to four species.

 Clicking the Scientific Name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that gives the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements, and in most cases, photos.  As you go through the list, pay attention to the height of the plants and the soil conditions. You can get different lists by selecting Shrub under habit, and  changing the Light Requirement and Soil moisture, and Leaf Retention  selections.

Another approach is to think of your screen as a type of windbreak.  I’m including links to three websites that have information on the rationale for windbreaks, how to design and plant one, and the selection of plants.

Department of Natural Resources, Ohio  has good section on plant selection.

Iowa State University Cooperative Extension

     pm 1716

     pm 1717

You might also want to contact the Washington County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension for some help closer to home.

What ever plant you choose, wait until it is much cooler to put it into the ground.

 

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