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

Thursday - December 29, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Need trees to screen view of parking garage in Houston, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


We live in Houston, TX with a beautiful lot except a 4 story parking garage has been built behind us. How can we screen this and the lights out of site. It looks terrible from the second story especially. We are trying Eucalyptus trees but having problems with some of them. Thank you.


You didn’t mention the type of Eucalyptus trees that you are trying, but Eucalyptus is a genus that is native to Australia. It was introduced into the US in California in the 1850’s and has been used by landscapers across the country. This previously answered question about growing Eucalyptus in Spring,Texas sort of sums up the Wildflower Center’s feeling about Eucalyptus in Houston. The answer contains some suggestions for alternative plants, but they all aren’t suitable for your current situation.

I will give you two suggestions to help you with selecting trees for your back yard.
The first is called the Texas Tree Planting Guide which is produced by the Texas Forest Service. This is an interactive website that will allow you to select trees based on your county, the size of the tree you want (both height and width), the overall shape of the tree, growth rate, etc. Using the Express Tree Selector and the Custom Tree Selector will give you a list of trees from which to choose.

Another source of information is the Houston Chapter of the Texas Native Plant Society.
Address: NPSOT-H, Box 131254, Houston, TX  77219-1254.

One feature they have that I like is their NICE Program (Natives Instead of Common Exotics). See page 24.

The next stop would be our Native Plant Database. You can use the Recommended Species feature, or you can use the Database to check out the plants that you have selected from the lists that you compiled using the other sources. To look for Recommended Species, go to the Native Plants Database, and scroll down to the Recommended Species box. Click on “View Recommended Species Page” and select East Texas on the map. Go to the Narrow Your Search box and make the following selections: select Texas under State, tree under Habit, perennial under Lifespan, and 72 - 100 under Height. This will give you a list of six native species that meet these criteria. Clicking on the Scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page which gives characteristics of the plants, growth requirements, and in most cases photos.

To use the Database to check out the other plants on your lists, type in the Scientific name or common name of a plant in the space provided and click on the “go” button. If the plant  is a non-native however, it will not appear in the database.

Good luck with your selections.










More Trees Questions

Brown rings on grass under live oaks in Austin
June 13, 2013 - There are brown rings in the grass at the dripline on several Live Oak trees in our neighborhood. What causes this? The trees appear healthy.
view the full question and answer

Scrub oaks dropping limbs in Lexington TX
August 23, 2009 - We live in the country between Elgin and Lexington. One of our "scrub" oaks is dropping large limbs. On examination, the limbs have green leaves and they do not appear to be rotted. Do you think ...
view the full question and answer

Can hazelnut trees grow in South Florida?
January 30, 2010 - Can Hazelnut trees grow in South Florida?
view the full question and answer

Difference between Styrax platanifolius and Styrax patanifolius ssp. texanus
November 18, 2011 - What is the difference between a Styrax platanifolius and a Styrax platanifolius texanus?
view the full question and answer

Long term effects of pesticide from Lubbock TX
March 20, 2013 - I have 9 western pecan trees about 20 years old. Trunk sizes is from 18" to 39". I used a product Bayer Tree and Shrub, applied to the trees. I wonder what it will do to the trees. I talkd to Bayer ...
view the full question and answer

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