En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Privacy screen for barn from Washington TX

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

Saturday - April 27, 2013

From: Washington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Privacy screen for barn from Washington TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live on a large ranch and have someone now next to us that built a barn on our fence line that we want to make a tree barrier to hide it, so we need to plant trees that will grow at least 15-29 feet, big and wide/full, that are for Texas/drought resistant but safe for horses/cattle too?

ANSWER:

Two things we want you to know: First, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Washington Co., TX. Such plants will have a better chance of having the right soil, climate and rainfall for their particular requirements. The second thing you should know is that there is no such thing as an "instant" tree. We can certainly find some trees that will have an ultimate height of 30 feet or more, but it will be a number of years before they get that way. And before you say you want fast-growing trees, generally speaking, fast-growing trees are  shorter lived and sometimes more susceptible to damage and breakage of limbs. And they still don't get tall overnight.

For this sort of a problem, we like to offer plants for a mixed screen of trees, shrubs, tall grasses and even herbaceous blooming plants. As these plants grow, they will not only start to screen your view of the barn, but the view the neighbors have of your property. Different textures and sizes, along with seasonal blooms or berries will distract the eye until you hardly notice the barn.

You need to look at the area where your new plantings will be to determine how much sunshine it will get. We consider "sun" to be 6 hours or more of sun a day, "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun, and "shade" 2 hours or less. Since you did not specify the amount of sunshine for your space, you will need to follow each plant link on the list we give you to our webpage on that plant to find its best growing conditions.

Many of these plants will be woody plants, trees and shrubs, which should be planted in colder weather (November to January) in Texas. If you must plant them now, do it quickly, preferably in the evening, having the necessary hole already prepared with some compost mixed into the native soil. For each woody plant, stick a hose deep in the prepared soil after planting and let it drip until the surface is damp. In the heat of a Texas summer, you should do this once or twice a week until the plant is well-established, it starts raining or it gets cooler, whichever comes first.

To find these recommended plants, we will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down to the Combination Search and, using the right hand list, select on Texas for state, "tree" for habit, "dry" for Soil Moisture and 12 to 36 ft. for Height. After making 3 selections from that list, we will make subsequent selections with searches for "shrub," "grass/grass-like," and "herb" for Habit, without specifying heights. Before it goes on our list, we will have checked to ensure that the plant is indeed native to the Washington County area.

Trees

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Cornus drummondii (Roughleaf dogwood)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Shrubs

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Grass/Grass-like

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants

Aphanostephus skirrhobasis (Lazy daisy)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Centaurea americana (American star-thistle)

There are many more plants in each category in our database; this was just an exercise to help you learn to use the database and make your own selection.

On the subject of plants safe for horses and cattle, here are links to databases to search (by scientific name) for plants poisonous to animals:

The Merck Veterinary Manual

ASPCA   

University of Arkansas 
 
University of Illinois  (common names only)    

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina 

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

California Poison Action Line

FInding the plant listed is a good indication of toxicity. However, not finding the plant listed doesn't guarantee that it is non-toxic, but it increases the probability that it is. It is a good idea to check with your veterinarian.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis var. canadensis

Roughleaf dogwood
Cornus drummondii

American holly
Ilex opaca

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Nodding lady's tresses
Spiranthes cernua

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

American basket-flower
Centaurea americana

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Cenizos browning in Houston
October 01, 2011 - After this horrible drought, I am committed to xeriscaping with native Texas plants. The few hibiscus that survived have been transplanted into pots and are thriving. I bid the tiny boxwoods a fond fa...
view the full question and answer

Drought & Deer Resistant Shrub for Shade in Medina, TX
June 14, 2013 - We are dedicated to native plants in Medina, but are desperate to find a drought and deer resistant shrub for shade. Would we be too far off base with an oleander bush? We know birds and most butterfl...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a school garden in Austin
May 14, 2009 - We are starting a native garden at our school in Central Austin, what native plants and flowers would be best to plant? The area we are planting faces east. We also need drought tolerant plants becau...
view the full question and answer

Drought resistant flowering plants for Spring, TX
January 25, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants. I live in Spring Tx. and wanted to plant a garden in my front yard. I'm looking for flowering plants that are colorful, easy to manage, and drought resistant but so far can't fi...
view the full question and answer

Tree to replace Betula nigra (River birch) in Memphis
August 13, 2012 - HI Mr. Smarty Pants, I think I need to replace the river birch tree in my west-facing front yard in Memphis, TN. I have sun all day, but it gets really hot in the afternoon. The soil in my yar...
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