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
1 rating

Tuesday - October 18, 2011

From: Van, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I think I would like to have a living sight and sound buffer, and am considering Murray Cypress. I need something fast growing, wind, sun and drought tolerant and disease resistant. Will Murray Cypress work? Do you have a better suggestion?


This presents and interesting situation. The Murray Cypress is a cultivar of the Leyland Cypress which is a hybrid of two species of Cupressus that are native to North America. Hybrids and cultivars are not considered natives here at the Wildflower Center, and thus are outside of our area focus. However there is an interesting story here, so I’m including an excerpt from a previously answered question.
“The Leyland Cypress is a hybrid, which means it does not appear in our Native Plant Database, of two trees that are native to the North American Pacific Coast, Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) and Cupressus nootkatensis (Alaska cedar). It hybridized naturally because the two trees were taken to an estate in England and were close enough together to cross pollinate. Ordinarily, in their native habitats in the Pacific northwest, they would have been 400 miles apart and would never have hybridized. Then, later, the resulting hybrid, Leyland Cypress, was exported back to the United States.” Click on this link for more information.

The Leyland Cypress is a sterile hybrid that must be propagated by cuttings. A forester, Bill Murray, was taking cuttings about 50 years ago, and after rooting the cuttings discovered a young tree that had desirable qualities beyond the original Leyland Cypress. This was developed into the Murray Cypress (which is also sterile). Click on this link (scroll down to Murray cypress) for more of the story. Click here for more details about the Murray Cypress.

As for suggestions, Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking that Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) would be a candidate for this job (images,). It is native, fast-growing, adaptable, drought-tolerant, evergreen, takes pruning (although it usually doesn't need it), makes an excellent hedge and is attractive. Here is more information on Eastern red cedar.


More Privacy Screening Questions

Need suggestions for plants to form a privacy hedge in Granbury, TX.
April 14, 2011 - We live on a rocky hill in Hood County, Tx. and need suggestions for evergreen anything that will provide privacy. Red Cedars were added in October 2010 and it looks as if half of those are dying. He...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for wet area in Florida
February 08, 2010 - What are the best type of bushes/trees to plant in a low-lying area which is very wet--has sitting water after rainfall and drains slowly that is fast growing and serve as a good privacy border near f...
view the full question and answer

Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
September 01, 2011 - 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. Than...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening from Phoenix AZ
April 14, 2013 - I live in the center of Phoenix, Az. On the eastern side of my house we have some 2 story condos next door. The width of the side yard is about 12'-15' and it gets lots of shade. I also have my powe...
view the full question and answer

Screen of Thuja Occidentalis on fire-damaged property in Bastrop TX
May 04, 2013 - I want to plant a screen of Thuja Occidentalis on the east side of our driveway. It is in the burn area of Bastrop, TX. None of our trees survived. Will Thuja Occidentalis grow here? I saw some specim...
view the full question and answer

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