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
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 Trees Questions

Problem with leaves of Texas Ash in Austin
May 21, 2012 - We purchased a 3' to 4' Texas Ash in March 2012. The past few days I noticed new leaves at the top are curled under, have a milky substance on them, and more than a few ladybugs on them. What is thi...
view the full question and answer

Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
April 30, 2012 - I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of t...
view the full question and answer

Oaks at Wildflower Center from Wimberley TX
September 05, 2012 - I know you have numerous Quercus fusiformis examples at the ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. My question is, do you also have Quercus virginiana growing there? Also, is Oak Wilt a disease that ...
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of unknown purchased plant from Boise ID
June 24, 2012 - Hi! I bought a tree that the sales person didnt know what it was. I thought it was a cherry tree and now after about 3-4 yrs I know it is but..How do I know if it is an ornamental tree or real fruit t...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center