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?

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
1 rating

Saturday - June 29, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!

ANSWER:

I can suggest several native grass species that grow 6-8 feet tall and are relatively drought resistant once established.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) is my top choice if you have alkaline soil (limestone or caliche).  It matures into large clumps that remain attractive year-round.

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) would also be good and adapts to a variety of soil types.  It's clumps may be a bit thinner that those of Lindheimer's muhly.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), when planted in mass, produces a specacular show of tall yellow flowers.  But the grass is rather short until the blooming season in late summer and fall.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) grows to about 6 feet in a wide variety of soil types.  To my taste, the clumps have a rather untidy appearance compared with the other three species.

Click on each of these grass names to view information about them on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database.  Shown below are images of the grasses I mentioned.  Seeds for the grasses can be obtained at Native American Seeds, and some of them may be available as established plants at local nurseries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen privacy hedge resistant to verticillium wilt
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for an evergreen, fast-growing privacy hedge (over 6') that is resistant to verticillium wilt and has low water requirements. I live in Monrovia, CA and have to replace hopseed bushes w...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
August 02, 2013 - I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foo...
view the full question and answer

Hankering for a view-blocking hedge in Hempstead, TX.
July 03, 2013 - Hempstead is 50 miles west of Houston and I am looking for a fast growing native to provide a block of a view for a fairly large area (about half a block). I would prefer something that is also benef...
view the full question and answer

Neat and tidy, poolside in Austin Texas.
December 01, 2010 - I have a small section between our pool and fence (approx 3 feet wide). I would like to plant something native that obscures the fence but does not create a mess for the pool. The area gets sun most...
view the full question and answer

Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
September 01, 2011 - I'm looking for a fast-growing shrub to "extend" the height of my fence and provide privacy in my yard in Austin. My lot is pretty much full sun and very dry, mostly clay soil. 8' is my goal. Than...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center