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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

Oregon boxleaf
Paxistima myrsinites

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Antelope horns
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

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