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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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Thursday - April 14, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need suggestions for plants to form a privacy hedge in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I live on a corner lot with the backyard facing a busy street. My lot is 4 feet lower than street level. I am looking for a privacy screen to plant along this North facing side. I have a canopy of live oaks that shade the area most of the day until 3 pm, when blast of SW sun hits this area. I have a 4' limestone wall with 4' wrought iron fence on top of the stone to cover and hopefully grow above. I'm looking for something 8-10' or more. I live in southwest Austin. Thank you so much for your time.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants often gets questions regarding hedges as privacy screens. I am going to take this opportunity to introduce you to our Native Plant Database to help you answer this question, and to share the ancient wisdom of the “green gurus” by referring you to some previously answered questions (really not that ancient).

Our Native Plant Database  contains 7,161 plants that are searchable by scientific name or common name. If you are not sure what you are looking for, you can try the Combination Search or the Recommended Species lists. There are several ways to use this feature to find plants, and I will show you just a couple.  Click on the Native Plant Data Base link, scroll down to the Combination Search box, and make the following selections: select Texas under State, Shrubs under General Appearance, and Perennial under Lifespan. Check Part Shade under Light Requirement, and Moist under Soil Moisture. Click on the Submit combination Search button and you will get a list of 70 native species that you can chose from. Clicking on each of the Scientific names will bring up its NPIN page that gives the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements, and in most cases, photos.
To use the Recommended Species lists, go to the Native Plant Database and scroll down to the Recommended Species List box. Clicking on the map will enlarge it so that you can click on Central Texas. This will bring up a list of 155 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. After reading through a few of these you’ll realize that all of them aren’t shrubs and you need to narrow your search. Go to the ”Narrow Your Search” box on the right of the screen and make the selections as before. You can get several different lists by changing the selections in the Narrow Your Search box.

Next, let’s look at some answers to previous questions from Texas.

Austin, TX  #2080 

Austin, TX  #4355

Porter, TX  #6506   Coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) could be a great addition to your wrought iron fence.

Austin, TX  #3664 

Georgetown, TX #6126    Note the warning about the difficulty of growing some plants under Oak trees (allelopathy).

As you read through these, you will see that there is quite a variety of possibilities to use for for privacy hedges. You can also see that Wax Myrtle Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) seems to be one of our favorites, and hopefully one of yours.


Morella cerifera


Lonicera sempervirens

 

 

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