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?


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

Wednesday - April 17, 2013

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Noise reduction hedge from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Noise reduction hedge row in Austin. We back up to a very busy street and need a fast growing noise barrier. In a similar post for the Houston area, you recommended Gordonia lasianthus -loblolly bay. Would this work in the Austin area with our heat, rock, and lack of rain? If not, what are my options? Thanks so much!I've been frustrated by this for many years and appreciate any help.


Here is our previous answer to which you are referring. We are trying to think why we even mentioned Gordonia lasianthus (Gordonia), it is not native to Texas at all. In fact, here are comments on its growing conditions:
"Though usually seen in wetlands, Loblolly Bay is tolerant of dry, sandy soil, in which it grows in the wild as a large shrub. It does not tolerate drought. The plant can be finicky and short-lived under cultivation unless its natural habitat is closely matched. Root rot can be a problem when young."

Doesn't sound much like Austin, does it?

Here is another previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on noise reduction, also from Austin, but it focuses mostly on conifers. Yet another previous answer has more suggestions. Not all of these are evergreen and we feel that a plant with leaves on it all year long will do a better job of muffling noise. We have confined our search to shrubs; they usually are faster-growing than trees, the leaves will tend to be at ear-level, and blooms will be visible. Our three evergreen shrubs suggestions are:

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) - generally grows better slightly east of here, but if watered, will do well here

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

Your job is to follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant, not only these but those in the links to previous answers, to find out if your space has the appropriate growing conditions, especially the amount of sunlight, soils and so forth. You can make a continuous hedge of the one you like best, but we prefer mixed hedges with different textures, leaf sizes, and bloom colors and times. Nothing will totally shut out noise, but it will distract you from the noise and birds will visit for berries or shelter.





From the Image Gallery

Ilex vomitoria

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Can I Grow Beautyberry
December 30, 2011 - Will try to be brief. Beautyberry sprouted leaves in vase of branches in water. It's NYC beginning of winter. Can I plant it outside? If not will it grow in a pot inside? Thanks. Happy New Ye...
view the full question and answer

Ilex vomitoria Sufering from Drought?
January 19, 2012 - My Ilex vomitoria has always thrived. It is about ten years old. This fall, a portion of the leaves on the ends of the branches have turned yellow on the edges with green veining in the center. Othe...
view the full question and answer

Disappointing Fall color from sumac in Dodge City, KS
May 07, 2013 - We have had a fragrant sumac bush growing in our front yard (faces south) for several years. While it is healthy and growing well, we are always disappointed in its lack of bright fall foliage. It d...
view the full question and answer

Stopping erosion on bank of a Florida retention pond
July 21, 2015 - I live on a retention pond, which has had all vegetation killed by the lake doctor. As a result the bank has eroded so there is a drop off directly to the water rather than a sloping bank. What plan...
view the full question and answer

Planting dogwood in Baytown TX
April 23, 2010 - I live in Baytown Texas and was wondering if this would be a good area to plant a dogwood tree?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center