Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Tuesday - June 03, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Tree and vine for shade and privacy
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We recently added a deck in our backyard which faces west, we live in Circle C (southwest Austin). The afternoon sun is intense so we're looking to plant something along our fence line to provide shade and privacy. We want something quick growing that will grow tall (20 or so feet) but not wide, since we don't want it to take up valuable yard space, maybe a tree? Also, can you recommend a flowering vine that can grow from the ground and climb to cover our brick patio columns. I'd love something fragrant, but nothing poisonous or that would attract bees.

ANSWER:

Here are tree species that have rapid to moderate growth rates. I have suggested some trees that can grow very tall (the oaks) and have a large spread. However, by the time they have the large spread their foliage will be high enough above the ground to not interfere with yard space and they will provide a great deal of shade.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) evergreen and moderately fast growing, 15 to 20 feet

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) moderate growth and beautiful fall foliage, 15 to 40 feet

Fraxinus albicans (Texas ash) rapid growth and beautiful fall foliage, 30-45 feet

You might consider one of the oak species that isn't susceptible to oak wilt, such as:

Quercus polymorpha (netleaf white oak) rapid growth, 40 to 80 feet

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) rapid growth, 40 to 100 feet

Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak) moderate growth, 40-60 feet

Here are recommendations for three evergreen vines. I can't guarantee that there won't be any bees attracted to their flowers since bees are attracted to nectar sources. However, I can almost certainly guarantee that hummingbirds and butterflies will be attracted especially to the crossvine and honesuckle.

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine), somewhat fragrant

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle), not particularly fragrant

Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower), very fragrant


Prunus caroliniana

Acer grandidentatum

Fraxinus albicans

Quercus polymorpha

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus muehlenbergii

Bignonia capreolata

Bignonia capreolata

Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Low evergreen shrubs for shade in Spring TX
February 19, 2009 - I am looking for an evergreen plant that grows no taller than 2 feet and will grow in shade. I would love to have one that would also produce flowers. Please help and thanks.
view the full question and answer

Shrubs, groundcovers, and grasses for shade in North Central Texas
March 19, 2010 - Updated (2009-10) information about shrubs / ground cover /grasses recommended for North Central Texas - Complete back yard re-landscaping under a lot of trees, shady areas, regular bermuda, St Augus...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
October 15, 2013 - I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/spa...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.