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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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Wednesday - May 13, 2009

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for Santa Rosa CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a very fast growing privacy hedge/screen, 15-20 ft., requires not much pruning. I want an evergreen with not a lot of mess. The area gets full sun and after the plant is established, it will get minimum water.

ANSWER:

Fast growing, minimum water, evergreen, low maintenance, tidy, 15 to 20 ft. tall; boy, wouldn't we all like to find that? In California, we can probably find some evergreen plants, but they may not get up to 15 to 20 ft. We have observed that fast-growing trees and shrubs tend to have weak wood, to break down, and are short-lived. And, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we only recommend plants that are not only native to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, so you're not going to hear anything from us about "instant privacy," "shade in a year," or any of those other claims. Just the facts, ma'am.

After going to our Recommended Species section, clicking on Northern California, and searching on first shrubs and then trees for some plants that will meet at least some of your specifications, we found exactly one shrub and two trees that even came close.You can use the same technique to go back to our Native Plant Database and find others that might work for you. Follow the plant link to the webpage for each individual plant, read all the information, and follow the Google link at the bottom of the page for even more information. You did not specify if you needed plants for shade or sun, so we will be looking at plants that have low to medium water usage, and let you know what light requirements each one has.

Shrub for Northern California

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) - evergreen, 15 to 20 ft. tall, blooms white June to September, sun, part shade or shade. low water use. Pictures

Trees for Northern California

Juniperus occidentalis (western juniper) - evergreen, 15 to 50 ft., low water use, sun. Pictures and more information

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) - evergreen, 20 to 30 ft., medium water use, sun. Pictures and more information


Heteromeles arbutifolia

Pinus contorta

 

 

 

 

 

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