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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

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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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!

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Saturday - June 04, 2011

From: Commerce, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Need native plants for wind block and screening along a fence row in Commerce, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a small tree or lg shrub for wind block & screening along a fence row. The soil is black clay with a mostly full sun exposure. Landscaper suggested Elaeagnus but I want a native. Thanks!

ANSWER:

First, I’ll direct you to four publications that explain the “what, when, where, and why” of  windbreaks. These cover the reasons for planting windbreaks, their design, and plant selection.

Iowa State University  Extension;

     Publication 1716, 

      Publication 1717.

USDA-NRCS;  WIndbreaks , Their Use

Department of Natural Resources, State of Ohio; Why Plant A Windbreak

For further plant selection, let me introduce you to the Native Plant Database. We can use it to help us select some plants for your situation. One way of using the Database is to go to the Recommended Species Lists. Click on “View Recommended Species Page”, and then click on East Texas on the map. This will bring up 133 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in East Texas. This is more information than you need, so go to the Narrow Your Search box to the right of the window and make the following selections: select Texas under State, Shrub under habit, and Perennial under duration. Check the appropriate boxes under Light Requirement and Soil Moisture for your location. Click on the Narrow Your Search button and the list is reduced. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that has plant characteristics, growth requirements and photos.  As you check through the list note the light requirements, moisture requirements, preferred soil types of the plants you are considering.

Here are a couple of links that can help you deal with your clay soil.
Bachmans Gardens  

fine Gardening  

This link to the USDA-Forest Service sort of sums up our feelings about Elaeagnus.

 

 

 

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