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Monday - July 11, 2016

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Trees for Privacy Screening in Central Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Cedar Park, Texas and have a neighbor who likes to have parties. I need a evergreen tree/hedge that will provide privacy and sound barrier. We have some wax myrtles but they don't work. We need something thicker and taller to plant along the fence line. There are already some large trees along that side - but they do not provide enough either.

ANSWER:

The first place to start your plant search is the Native Plant Database on our website. Select the following search criteria: Texas, Shrub, Perennial, Evergreen, Sun and 6-12 feet height.

This search will produce a small list of potential native plants that will provide privacy and a noise barrier. Three on the list have potential (see below) for your consideration.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon Holly)

Yaupon Holly is often grown in residential landscapes and trimmed into hedges, with many cultivars popular: weeping forms, columnar forms, and dwarf forms. The ornamental twigs with shiny evergreen leaves and numerous red berries have been used as holiday decorations and make cheerful accents in the winter landscape. The leaves and twigs contain caffeine, and American Indians used them to prepare a tea, which they drank in large quantities ceremonially and then vomited back up, lending the plant its species name, vomitoria. The vomiting was self-induced or because of other ingredients added; it doesn't actually cause vomiting. Tribes from the interior traveled to the coast in large numbers each spring to partake of this tonic, and it was also a common hospitality drink among many groups. It remained popular as such among southeastern Americans into the 20th century and is still occasionally consumed today, with a flavor resembling another holly drink, the South American yerba mate, from Ilex paraguariensis. Yaupon is slow-growing and tends to get thick and twiggy on the inside, making it ideal for dense hedges but requiring careful pruning to shape it into a tree. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. Nursery plants are typically female (fruiting) and are propagated by cuttings.

Sophora secundiflora (Texas Mountain Laurel)

Mescal bean or Texas mountain laurel is an evergreen, usually multi-trunked shrub or small tree ranging from just a few feet tall to more than 30 ft. in height, though its usual height at maturity is 10-15 ft. The dense, dark green, and glossy compound leaves are composed of 7–9 shiny, leathery leaflets that are rounded on the ends. The leaflets are up to 2 inches or more long, tapering more gradually to the base than to the tip, and arranged along an axis terminated by a single leaflet. The bluish lavender flowers, in 3-7 in. drooping clusters, are very showy and fragrant. The fruit is a semi-woody pod with bright red poisonous seeds.

Sophora secundiflora is very popular as a native evergreen ornamental tree within its range, valued for its handsome, dark green foliage and lush early spring blooms. It is drought-tolerant, prefers rocky limestone soil, and is native from central Texas west to New Mexico and south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico. Like many woody plants native to rocky soils, it is slow growing. The fragrance of Texas mountain laurel flowers is reminiscent of artificial grape products. The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen.

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

Evergreen sumac is a shrub or small tree, from 8-12 ft. in height with spreading branches. Its shiny, evergreen, pinnate foliage is tinged with pink in early spring and maroon after frost. Leaves are alternate, 2–5 1/2 inches long, with 5–9 fleshy leaflets on stiff stems. The 5-petaled, inconspicuous, greenish or white flowers grow in clusters 1–2 inches long at the end of stout branches. When the fruit matures in mid-September it is red, broader than long, and covered with fine hair.

Evergreen sumac can be used to make a nice, thick hedge or screen, but can grow tree-like with a long, straight trunk. Only female plants produce flowers and berries. It is fast growing, generally insect and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Not a true evergreen – leaves are green through the winter, then are dropped, to be replaced within a week with a new crop.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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