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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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Friday - July 24, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need suggestions for shrubs for a screening barrier along a fence line in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hi! I am new to Austin and I live in a town home community that backs up to an existing neighborhood. There is no screening on my fenceline, which is only about 30 feet from my back porch! I also have a plethora of power lines running above the fence line, which is unattractive to say the least. I need advice on evergreen shrubs and trees that I can plant which will complement each other, and hopefully grow fast! (without overtaking the power lines and being cut down by Austin Energy) Thanks!

ANSWER:

Well, we can't do much about the power lines, but this bulletin from Austin Energy states that trees within 20' of their power lines should be no more that 25' tall at maturity. I think we can find some suggestions that will fit within that limit.

These first three shrubs/trees are fast-growing, evergreen and grow well in the Austin area :

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)     can grow up to 20'

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)  can grow 8 - 12'

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry)   can grow 15 - 20'

The final two are also evergreen, grow well in Austin, and would make a very good privacy hedge. Unfortunately, they are slower growing than the first three:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)    can grow 12 - 25'

Sophora secundiflora (mountain laurel)   can grow up to 30'

Clicking on each of these names will bring up its NPIN page which describes the characteristics and growth requirements of the plant.

You can come up with your own list by going to our RECOMMENDED SPECIES page  and clicking on Central Texas on the map. This will give you a list of 155 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. Go to the Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the page and select Texas under STATE, Shrub under APPEARANCE, Perennial under LIFESPAN, and check the appropriate box under  LIGHT REQUIREMENT and SOIL MOISTURE. Click the Narrow Your Search button and your list is shortened to include only the plants that meet these criteria. By changing the criteria, you can generate different lists. Clicking on the names of each plant will bring up its NPIN page.

Our Suppliers Directory  can help you find businesses that sell these native plants.


 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Spacing for wax myrtles as screen in Texas
December 21, 2008 - I have bought 30 wax myrtles, 15 gallon sized, and would like to plant them along my fence line, as a screen. How far apart is the recommended distance when planting plants of this size? Thank you!
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Native plants under trees for privacy barrier in Fairview, TX
April 29, 2009 - I am looking for suggestions on what to plant for a Privacy Barrier. The area in question is a shaded area under a tree line of about 200+ feet long. I am hoping for year round coverage. The canopy...
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Trees for privacy screen
August 08, 2012 - Hello, We'd like to plant a privacy screen to hide our view of an adjacent apartment complex. Ideally the trees or other plantings might be a native species, and preferably they would eventually rea...
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Shade tolerant evergreens for privacy shield in Louisville KY
March 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our property is adjacent to the highway for ~ 200ft. I'm looking for partial-to-full shade tolerant evergreens that will grow to be relatively tall. Our soil is clay and g...
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Vines for fence in Bentonville, Arkansas
June 12, 2013 - I have about 600 LF of 8ft high chain link fence I would like to grow vines on in Northwest Arkansas for screening. I would like some to cover quickly but be maintenance friendly. I heard alternating ...
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