Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Sunday - February 10, 2013

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Privacy Tree for Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a tall privacy plant similar to the Thuya Green Giant that is suitable to the Austin environment?

ANSWER:

I’m tempted to just say”no”  [but that would be too simple].
The cultivar Thuja 'Green Giant' is a hybrid between T. standishi and T. plicata and certainly could not be considered a native species here in Texas. Near relatives in the US are Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae), which is native in the Midwest to Northeast, or Thuja plicata (Western arborvitae) (one parent of the hybrid), which is native to the West Coast.

There are several good options for privacy plants for Austin. It just matters, in relation to the Green Giant, which characteristics you might accept being a bit different.

Here is a good baseline of advice about privacy plants for the Austin area:  [I found these by searching the Mr Smarty Plants archives for “Privacy” – There is a LOT of material there]

Fast growing native evergreens
Fast growing shrub and explanation of searching procedure on the “Suggested Species” database
And, since you mentioned “tall” here are three responses directly about trees:
Trees for privacy screen in Austin
Tree landscaping in Austin
Fenceline trees for NW Austin

So, what is it about the Thuya Green Giant that you value?  When I look at that tree, I see a tall evergreen of slender aspect, which is reputed to grow fast.

 Probably the closest local tree is Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar), it normally tops out in the 30-40 ft. range but has a nice “Christmas tree” aspect.  Both it and the Green Giant are evergreen and have cedar/juniper type foliage. A bit more rounded and seldom reaching 30 feet tall is our own Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper);  my cedar fever prevents me from being too enthusiastic on that one!

Other good choices for trees for privacy shielding include Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) and the taller, but deciduous Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak), and Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa) (fast growing)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

American sycamore
Platanus occidentalis

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Northern catalpa
Catalpa speciosa

More Privacy Screening Questions

Fast-growing hedge for North Carolina.
February 17, 2009 - I am looking for a fast-grownig evergreen hedge that can be kept no taller than 6 feet. It will be grown in partal sun facing north
view the full question and answer

Plants to keep children out of yard
April 23, 2008 - I WANT TO PLANT SOMETHING ALONG A FENCE LINE TO KEEP CHILDREN OUT OF OUR YARD. NEEDS TO GROW FAST BUT NOT POISONOUS
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge that can be trimmed
June 06, 2011 - Please help us find a screening plant or tree (preferably native and evergreen with flowering and/or berries) which is non-invasive, not a vine, at least six feet tall if not taller, which can be easi...
view the full question and answer

Need a privacy screen beside a pool in Las Vegas, NV.
June 15, 2012 - Hi, I need to plant a privacy screen fence next to the pool. There is only 4-5 feet between the wall and the pool. That leaves only about 2 feet for soil. What are my best options for non invasive r...
view the full question and answer

Hiding a chicken house from Glen Rose TX
February 06, 2013 - To hide a chicken house, which do you recommend, crape myrtles or chinese photinias?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.