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?

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
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 - April 21, 2012

From: Southlake, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leaves.) What can I plant in between the live oaks which will fill in these gaps? My landscaper suggested Cherry Laurels, but as they will be planted directly under the live oaks I need something that enjoys a lot of shade. My pool is also located in this immediate area (less than 7 feet away) so I also need something that will not create a continual mess with droppings. Thank you!!!! (PS - I'm happy to email a picture if that helps!)

ANSWER:

Thank you for offering us a picture, but we are no longer equipped to accept photographs. We love to look at them, but are overloaded just answering questions.

In terms of plants between your live oaks, you have a couple strikes against most plants. One, as you already know, is pretty dense shade. The other is that of allelopathy, often present in oaks. This is a process by which oaks emit a substance discouraging competition from other plants growing beneath them. This can be in the leaves, twigs or soil. Another problem is your request for "tidy" plants that will drop nothing in your pool. Plants must all bloom in order to set seed. The blooms and/or seeds or berries will drop, period. The nature of plants requires that they propagate themselves, it's hard to counteract that. Also, although the live oak is "evergreen," as well as Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) and Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), another possibility, in actuality all will drop leaves periodically throughout the year, depending on weather, moisture and what mood they are in when they wake up in the morning.

As those live oaks grow, their canopies will expand, and if they are not pruned too high, should provide pretty good privacy screening by themselves. However, if you are determined to have something between them, you could follow the plant links to the two shrubs mentioned above. Both would require pruning to keep them from getting too high, but both take pruning very well. The cherry laurel will tolerate sun (6 hours or more of sun a day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun. The yaupon tolerates sun, part shade or shade.

Of course, as the oak canopies expand, their branches (and leaves) will soon be over the pool, and you will be getting leaves, twigs and acorns in your pool. We have never found any very good pool-tolerant plants.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen tree for screen behind a waterfall
July 25, 2010 - I want to plant 3 evergreen trees as a screen behind a waterfall and along a fence by my pool. We took down a wax myrtle due to winter/ice damage and the mess in the pool. I want male yaupon hollies...
view the full question and answer

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Privacy Tree for Austin, TX
February 10, 2013 - Can you recommend a tall privacy plant similar to the Thuya Green Giant that is suitable to the Austin environment?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub with dense base for screen in Austin
November 11, 2010 - I just bought a house in Austin and am looking for an evergreen shrub to use as a thick hedge between my elevated yard and a bus stop. The only shrubs I can come up with tend to get thin toward the b...
view the full question and answer

Pruning cherry laurel in January in Austin
January 07, 2011 - Do trust I checked Q&A first. Can Cherry Laurel shrubs be pruned earlier than late winter in Austin? I foolishly planted 12 native Cherry Laurel standards on our suburban property line 5 years ago. I ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center