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
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

Friday - March 08, 2013

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Landscaping a Fence with Native Plants for Central Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I'm looking to landscape my fence that I've lined with woven bamboo. The area gets the hot afternoon sun in summer and is pretty shady in winter. The plants need to be drought and heat tolerant. I'd like it to look natural, attract wildlife (birds), and be people friendly, i.e. no thorns, spines, or be poisonous to kids. I know that takes out a lot of Texas natives but I would like the yard to be barefoot-friendly. Ideally the plants should be evergreen with lots of native perennials in front for color. Quick growing is a plus, and they must be tolerant of Central Texas soil – rocky soil with good drainage. It is on a slope – down towards the east. The fence is on the southwest side of the yard and is about 50' long. It is also under cable lines. I have been toying with Mexican plum, elbow bush, lantana, pincushion, and various sages in front yard. I already have mountain laurel, cenizo, yaupon holly, and coralberry on property – so would like to not use these.

ANSWER:

There are lots of interesting Texas native plants that are good possibilities for your fence landscape (that you aren’t already growing). In summary, you are looking for plants that tolerate full sun and dry soil, and that are evergreen, thorn/spine-free, and only grow to be a small tree size or shorter (so they do not interfere with the overhead wires).

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Texas, Habit – All habits, Duration – Perennial, Leaf Retention – evergreen, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Dry, Height – 0-12 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating blooming time and bloom color too.

This search criterion resulted in 72 plants of which the list was further narrowed to 20 by removing the plants with spines or thorns. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

 Additionally, the list of potential plants has notations about toxic properties for you to consider. These plants have concerns for animals, pets or humans. To get more information about the toxic nature of some plants look up toxic plants of Texas at the Virtual Herbarium online at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Plants of Texas Rangelands website.

 Suggested shrubs and trees for your fence landscape:

Acacia constricta (whitehorn acacia): look for a thornless type.

Cercocarpus montanus var. argenteus (silver mountain mahogany) – toxic properties.

Forestiera angustifolia (narrow-leaf forestiera)

Lycium berlandieri (wolfberry)

Paxistima myrsinites (myrtle boxwood)

Quercus turbinella (shrub live oak)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)

Native perennials for your fence landscape:

Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed) – toxic properties.

Callirhoe involucrata (winecup)

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann’s daisy)

Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca) – toxic properties.

Penstemon havardii (big bend beardtongue)

Manfreda maculosa (spice lily)

Scutellaria wrightii (wright’s skullcap)

Sphaeralcea lindheimeri (woolly globemallow)

Symphyotrichum ericoides (white heath aster)

Tetraneuris scaposa (four-nerved daisy)

 

From the Image Gallery


Whitethorn acacia
Acacia constricta

Silver mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. argenteus

Mountain lover
Paxistima myrsinites

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Spider milkweed
Asclepias asperula

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Damianita
Chrysactinia mexicana

Engelmann's daisy
Engelmannia peristenia

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Havard penstemon
Penstemon havardii

False aloe
Manfreda maculosa

More Trees Questions

Ligustrums planted last summer are doing poorly in Houston, TX.
March 06, 2012 - I planted large mature ligustrums trees (~ 8 ft) last summer and the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. Can you please tell me what the cause of this might be and what we can do to prevent th...
view the full question and answer

Acorns for craft project in Santa Rosa CA
October 05, 2009 - Where can I find mature northern red oaks, northern pin oaks in Santa Rosa, CA 95404 in order to get their cute chubby acorns for a craft project I'm doing?
view the full question and answer

Danger of oak wilt infestation in trees with storm-damaged limbs
June 15, 2007 - A recent severe storm in Southwest Austin broke large branches and trunks on many Live Oaks in my neighborhood, including my next door neighbors'. Can this invite Oak Wilt? I'm worried about my tree...
view the full question and answer

Trimming a bur oak in Llano, TX
February 06, 2009 - We have a beautiful, large Burr Oak next to our house. This tree has many large lateral branches. I have trimmed dead branches, but no other trimming. It grows a lot of "suckers" during growing sea...
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from a lacey oaks in San Antonio
September 06, 2012 - I have a lacey oak tree, approximately 6 ft. tall that has been in the ground almost a year. The tree looks healthy but there is a small area on the trunk that looks and feels wet. The substance is s...
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