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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.

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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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Tuesday - August 12, 2008

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrub to hide chain link fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, Please recommend a tall, thick shrub to conceal the 6 foot chain link fence around the perimeter of our property. The fence is located down a hill from our home with western exposure and full sun. While we can run a soaker hose down there to establish the roots, I would love to have tall shrubs that will conceal the fence, act as a noise barrier from the street and require no watering throughout the summer. Is there such a plant? The nursery recommended red tip photinias but after reading your article about disease with these plants, I'm reconsidering. Thank you for your advice.

ANSWER:

Well, Mr. Smarty Plants certainly wouldn't recommend redtip photinia (Photinia X fraseri) since not only is it not a plant native to North America, but it is also on the TexasInvasives.org list. You will see that TexasInvasives.org recommends two substitutes: Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) and Rhus virens (evergreen sumac). Both are evergreen and drought tolerant.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is another evergreen, drought-tolerant choice that has the advantage of being fast growing.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) and Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) are both evergreen and drought-tolerant, but are slower growing.

One other possibility is Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). It normally grows into a tree, but can be pruned to form a hedge. It is evergreen, drought-tolerant and would form the thickest hedge of the ones mentioned.


Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia swaseyi

Juniperus virginiana

 

 


 

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