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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 - September 01, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Eight Foot Screen for Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a fast-growing shrub to "extend" the height of my fence and provide privacy in my yard in Austin. My lot is pretty much full sun and very dry, mostly clay soil. 8' is my goal. Thanks!

ANSWER:

  I think I have some shrubs that will fit your request pretty well.  My process is to use the recommended species list for Central Texas, and then narrow the selection to shrubs, 6-12 feet in height.

  That only gave seven results, but three of them are native varieties of Sumacs which thrive on low water, dry soils and grow to around 10 feet in height!  That sounds real close to your request to me! The Fragrant sumac in my garden is doing very well in this drought season. It is well established and has not required any watering so far. Rhus glabra has a lovely fall color.

Check them out here:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) grows to 6-12 ft.

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) grows to 10-20 ft.

and Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)  is listed as 8-12 ft.  I've included pictures of them as full plants below.

  There were three other choices that weren't related.  Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood) had similar growth characteristics while Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) and Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) are common screen plant choices [and still native to Central Texas] but require moist soils and more water.

I hope this gives you a good set of choices for your fenceline!

 

From the Image Gallery


Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

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