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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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Wednesday - August 26, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Need shrubs to form a barrier fence to exclude large dogs in Huntsvile, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I'm seeking shrubs to form a barrier fence to strongly discourage free-roaming large dogs from entering a property in Huntsville, Texas. The site is currently just a grass yard basking in full sun, getting at least 6 hours a day. We need something fast growing, sun loving, dense, thorny and, of course, native to East Texas. Some ornamental value would be a nice bonus, but deterrence is paramount.

ANSWER:

Since your problem with free-range dogs seems pretty immediate, a quicker soluton might be to install a fence. However, if you are willing to wait several years, Mr. Smarty Plants can suggest some native plants that could eventually offer some deterence.

A plant that has a history of use as a hedge row plant is Maclura pomifera (osage orange), also known as Bois d'arc or horse apple. This thorny plant's use as a plant barrier in the open plains preceeded the invention of barbed wire, and its trunks were later used as fence posts to hold the wire. It can grow into a 20-40' tree, but with pruning can be trained to be a hedge. However, this may be more plant than you want. (more information)

A thorny, thicket forming tree/shrub (15-30 ft) with white flowers and edible red fruit is the Chickasaw Plum Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum). It is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub or small tree that can occur in thickets and fence rows. Although the plums may be eaten raw, they are somewhat tart and acidic, and are perhaps best used in preserves and jellies. (more information)

A final suggestion is that you contact the folks at Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Harris county for some help closer to home. 


Maclura pomifera

Maclura pomifera

Prunus angustifolia

Prunus angustifolia

 


 

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