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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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Monday - August 10, 2015

From: Ft Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Evergreen privacy screen
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are looking for a good plant(s) that would provide a privacy screen by our fence. We were looking at clumping bamboo (maybe black) because it grows quickly and it not too thick. The new plants would get full sun all day, and can get blown by some pretty strong west-east winds at the north end of our property. Can you recommend bamboo, or another evergreen plant? Thank you! Jen

ANSWER:

Please don't plant bamboo of any sort.   First of all, it isn't native to your area of North Central Texas or even to North America.  Secondly, many bamboos are invasive and may take over your yard and your neighbor's yard, as well.  They are, technically, a grass and spread by rhizomes (underground stems) and are very difficult to eliminate if you decide to remove them.  The clumping bamboos are an exception and vary rarely send out runners, but they do occasionally send out runners and can spread.   Please read the article "Avoid Bamboo Like the Plague" by Danny Flanders from HGTVGardens.

The advantages to planting native plants are that they are adapted to the soil and the climate of the area and don't have to be babied.  If you visit our Special Collections page, you will find a section devoted to RECOMMENDED SPECIES BY STATE.  Since Texas is large the state is divided into sections and Fort Worth would be considered Texas–North Central.  On the list you can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option in the sidebar to limit the list to evergreen plants.

Here are a few recommendations from that list:

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen, grows to 12 or 25 feet, easily makes a hedge and has the advantages of having red berries that attract birds.  Here is more information from Aggie Horticulture.

Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) has several cultivars and is very good as a hedge.  Here are comments by Neil Sperry on My SA (San Antonio's homepage).  Virginia Cooperative Extension and ShadeMakerTrees have lists of some of the available cultivars.  Male plants produce pollen that some people are allergic to—the pollen, however, fertilizes the female cones that produce blue berries that are a source of food for wildlife. Most plant nurseries should be able to identify which ones are male and female since they are usually cloned from a known source.

There are two evergreen vines that can be used as privacy screens if you have a fence for them to grow on.  They are:

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) and Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Your privacy screen doesn't have to be a monoculture.  Another couple of evergreen plants that aren't on the list but do occur in Tarrant County and would add some interest are:

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) and Salvia greggii (Autumn sage)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

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