Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Tree for screening along road
August 20, 2008 - What would you recommend for a linear tree lined street that needs to act as a buffer to hide less desirable backyards of ugly houses. The road is on lake travis near austin, texas. was hoping for a...
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

Screening Shrub for Lubbock TX
April 08, 2012 - I am a landscape architecture student at Texas Tech University and am looking for a drought tolerant shrub to be used for screening a water well area. The location is the northwest corner of a yard wi...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for privacy screen in New Jersey
April 01, 2008 - Looking for a tree (preferably an evergreen) for a privacy hedge in Whitehouse Station, NJ. Would like a very fast growing tree that is deer resistant. Also the privacy hedge will be planted along a...
view the full question and answer

Year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
November 02, 2010 - We need a year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.