Hedges and screens!
Originally published in the Davis Enterprise March
hedge won't require pruning too often, will grow at a reasonable rate, and will
be dense enough to block the view. If you're in a hurry, consider installing a
fence extension and planting a fast-growing vine while you wait for the hedge
shrubs to grow. Here are some of our favorite shrubs for hedges and privacy!
* Abelia x grandiflora
growing shrub with nice shiny foliage and a profusion of white flowers. Often
clipped, but looks more graceful when left to grow naturally. Drops some leaves
if the winter is cold, but mostly evergreen. Grows 3 – 4' a year to 8'+.
The pink version, Edward Goucher, is attractive to hummingbirds. Stays lower: 5
– 6', with equal spread.
and Phyllostachys species
species are non-invasive, large, well-mannered shrubs. Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse
Karr' is one of the best; Bambusa oldhami, ventricosa, vulgaris, and tuldoides are
also useful. Slow to make a hedge; either buy several and plant close together,
or dig clumps every year or so and divide them.
species are the familiar invasive bamboos. They can be planted as a hedge if
the roots are confined with a barrier and the grove is monitored annually for
escaped rhizomes! Golden bamboo (P. aurea) and Black bamboo (P. nigra) are the
best-known runners. Use with caution.
* Buxus microphylla japonica
classic slow-growing clipped hedge. Easily kept as low as a foot, but naturally
grows to 3 – 4' plus. Sun or light shade, average watering, somewhat
* Callistemon citrinus
somewhat rangy shrubs with showy red flowers that attract hummingbirds. Prone
to iron chlorosis when irrigated. Very drought-tolerant.
* Ceanothus species and
and 'Ray Hartman' are two of the best for hedges.
natives with attractive shiny leaves; pretty blue flowers in spring. These two
varieties get big enough to provide privacy, but Ceanothus don't like to be
pruned. Water deeply and very infrequently in summer, or not at all. Grow 3'+ a
citrus make excellent hedges. Kumquats (Fortunella) are especially ornamental
and hardy. Sweet smelling flowers off and on at any time, with fruit
year-around. Fruit has sweet skin, tart flesh. Grows 2 – 3' a year to 8
– 12' +
* Cotoneaster lacteus
graceful shrub with arching growth habit, masses of white flowers in spring,
and heavy crop of bright red fruit in winter. Grows 3 – 4' a year to 10'
+, but easily kept lower. Good examples in front of the DMV, corner of 5th
and Pole Line, where they are pruned to about 4'.
* Dodonea viscosa 'Purpurea'
for quick screen. Bronze foliage
turns dark purple, almost maroon, in winter. Fairly open habit, but can be
sheared for greater density. Fast-growing (3 – 5' a year) to 10'+. Very drought-tolerant.
* Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Gilt Edge'
growth habit. Silvery leaves with bright golden margins. Flowers attract
beneficial insects; edible fruit attracts songbirds. Grows 3 – 4' a year
to 10'+. Very tough, drought tolerant.
* Escallonia rubra
with dark, glossy green leaves and dark red flowers. Leaves have a resinous
odor. Flowers attract hummingbirds. Grows 2 – 3' a year to 8'+. The more widely planted Escallonia X
'Frades' (Pink princess shrub) is subject to iron deficiency if it gets watered
* Feijoa sellowiana
flowers! Fuzzy grey-green leaves make a nice contrast with red-leaved or
shiny-leaved shrubs. Tasty fruit, plant named varieties if you want reliable
fruit production. Very drought tolerant. Grows 2 – 3' a year to 10'+,
easily kept lower. Or grow as a
* Laurus nobilis
bay is a kitchen herb, but it's also a tough, upright, dense tree that can be
pruned as a hedge. Will grow in full sun or considerable shade. Grows 2 –
3' a year to 30'+, but easily kept at 10'.
* Ligustrum japonica
common allergy plant in the olive family reseeds prolifically. I detest
privet. Nevertheless, it is very
tough, and makes a dense hedge to about 6 - 8'.
* Myrsine africana
shrub for hedge, similar to the more common Japanese boxwood, but with a redder
coloration. Grows 1' a year to 4' or more, can get to 6'+.
* Myrtus communis
old landscape shrub. Clean, shiny foliage; dense growth habit. Can be clipped,
shaped, trained as a small tree. Sweet-smelling flowers; shiny black fruit.
Excellent hedge, but even more attractive when allowed to grow naturally.
'Compacta' is tighter growing with smaller leaves and can be kept as a hedge
from 1' – 6'. Drought
* Nerium oleander
incredibly tough shrub that grows all along California's freeways. 'Sister
Agnes' is white, fast, and biggest of all. 'Sealy Pink' is medium pink,
'Crimson Red' is dark red. Disease and pest problems in other areas have
reduced availability, but still a good choice for difficult, hot, dry locations
here in the Valley.
* Photinia fraseri
with bright red new growth. Very popular, fast-growing shrub that makes a great
screen or hedge. Can even be trained as a small tree. Fireblight and lace bug
are becoming serious pests to the point that I'm not recommending these
anymore. Avoid pruning in spring to prevent fireblight. Light oil sprays or
systemic insecticides can help control lace bugs.
* Pittosporum tobira
landscape all-star!. Grows in full sun or considerable shade. Prune as a hedge,
train as a tree, or let it grow naturally. Dark, shiny leaves look good all the
time. Flowers smell like orange blossoms. Grows 3' a year to 10'+ Variegatum'
has creamy-colored margins on the
leaves; somewhat slower-growing (2' a year).
* Podocarpus gracilior
graceful, useful evergreen tree that we usually use as a large shrub or
espalier. Shiny, narrow, dark green leaves. Will take all but the hottest sun,
as well as considerable shade. Grows 3' a year to whatever height you let it.
* Rhamnus alaternus
with dark green, dense foliage. Flowers attract beneficial insects; small berries
attract songbirds. Great for a quick hedge for privacy. Very drought-tolerant
but sensitive to overwatering.. Grows 3 – 5' a year to 10'+.
* Rhaphiolepis x 'Majestic
large variety of Indian hawthorn, with very showy pink flowers in spring. Dark
green, shiny leaves. Grows 2 – 3' a year to 8'+.
* Rosmarinus officinalis
Spire', 'Tuscan Blue' are upright forms for hedges.
is tough! This familiar kitchen herb tolerates drought, some shade. The dark
blue blooms in winter and spring are a nice bonus. More familiar varieties are
ground covers, but these two grow upright at 1 – 2' a year to 4'+
leaves on a plant with an open growth habit. Can be clipped for greater
density. Flowers are fragrant--odd, musky/fruity scent. Prefers at least some
One of the
few Viburnums that can take direct sun and grows very well here. Attractive buds in fall, flowers in
winter, shiny blue berries in spring and summer. Great for beneficial insects
and songbirds. Can be pruned, but looks especially good if allowed to grow with
only light clipping. 'Spring Bouquet' grows 2 - 3'/year to 6'+. 'Robustum'
grows fast to 10' +.
* Xylosma congestum
One of the
toughest landscape shrubs around. Tolerates heat, even reflected off a west
wall, but also takes shade. Can be trained into a beautiful small tree, clipped
as a formal hedge, or trimmed for an informal screen. Very drought tolerant.
Grows 3' a year to 10'+.
is a denser variety which grows 2' a year and has thorns.
© 2008 Don Shor, Redwood Barn Nursery, Inc., 1607 Fifth Street, Davis, Ca 95616
Feel free to copy and distribute this article with attribution to this author.
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