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

Sunday - February 10, 2013

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Privacy Tree for Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a tall privacy plant similar to the Thuya Green Giant that is suitable to the Austin environment?

ANSWER:

I’m tempted to just say”no”  [but that would be too simple].
The cultivar Thuja 'Green Giant' is a hybrid between T. standishi and T. plicata and certainly could not be considered a native species here in Texas. Near relatives in the US are Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae), which is native in the Midwest to Northeast, or Thuja plicata (Western arborvitae) (one parent of the hybrid), which is native to the West Coast.

There are several good options for privacy plants for Austin. It just matters, in relation to the Green Giant, which characteristics you might accept being a bit different.

Here is a good baseline of advice about privacy plants for the Austin area:  [I found these by searching the Mr Smarty Plants archives for “Privacy” – There is a LOT of material there]

Fast growing native evergreens
Fast growing shrub and explanation of searching procedure on the “Suggested Species” database
And, since you mentioned “tall” here are three responses directly about trees:
Trees for privacy screen in Austin
Tree landscaping in Austin
Fenceline trees for NW Austin

So, what is it about the Thuya Green Giant that you value?  When I look at that tree, I see a tall evergreen of slender aspect, which is reputed to grow fast.

 Probably the closest local tree is Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar), it normally tops out in the 30-40 ft. range but has a nice “Christmas tree” aspect.  Both it and the Green Giant are evergreen and have cedar/juniper type foliage. A bit more rounded and seldom reaching 30 feet tall is our own Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper);  my cedar fever prevents me from being too enthusiastic on that one!

Other good choices for trees for privacy shielding include Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) and the taller, but deciduous Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak), and Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa) (fast growing)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Northern catalpa
Catalpa speciosa

More Privacy Screening Questions

Need suggestions for shrubs for a screening barrier along a fence line in Austin, TX.
July 24, 2009 - Hi! I am new to Austin and I live in a town home community that backs up to an existing neighborhood. There is no screening on my fenceline, which is only about 30 feet from my back porch! I also ha...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for screen in Colleyville TX
March 12, 2009 - My soil is pure sand that goes down as far as I can dig. I am needing native plants to use as a screen, that grow to be 6-10 ft. tall. Also, since my plantings dry out so quickly, would it be helpfu...
view the full question and answer

New York State Shrubs to Screen Home from Traffic
March 11, 2010 - I am looking for a native New York bush/small tree which I can use along a road to screen my home from year-round car traffic. The area is not terribly wide and the soil is OK. I am willing to prune a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on bio-security
June 11, 2005 - Hello, My friend and I are summer interns at the Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve Site in Freeport, Texas. Our jobs as the interns is to find a plant that is friendly to the animals around our...
view the full question and answer

Evergreens for privacy screen in WI
May 29, 2011 - We'd like to add privacy to our backyard with evergreen trees. The problem with this area is it very wet and the ground is soft and mushy until the dry summer conditions. We've rocklined the the a...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center