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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.

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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.

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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!

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Sunday - March 17, 2013

From: Manchaca, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees, Vines
Title: Patio Privacy Screen Suggestions for Central Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have just built a patio and want to plant some small trees, bushes or shrubs to form a visual barrier (rather than to erect a fence)to the neighbors yard.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is asked frequently about recommendations for plants to screen or create a privacy barrier. We have some great suggestions in previously answered privacy screening questions if you would like to take a look. Also the Mr. Smarty Plants website has a section on privacy screening that can be filtered to just show Texas entries.

It seems that you are looking for some tall and narrow plants that will block out the view of your neighbor.  There are some pre-planning exercises that need to be done before you start to look at plant choices. Take a look at the soil condition (well-drained, dry, sloped, etc) and sun exposure (morning sun, afternoon sun) and optimum height (to block your bad views). This will give you a set of criteria that will narrow down your plant choices. You can select several different plants that will give you attractive flowering, foliage or fruiting features during different times of the year.

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: Texas, Habit (shrub or tree), and Duration – Perennial. You can narrow down this search further by indicating light requirement (sun, part shade or shade), blooming time, soil moisture (dry, moist or wet) and height specifics (6-12 or 12-36 ft.).

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. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of fewer plants.  

 

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