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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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Saturday - August 20, 2011

From: Santa Barbara, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Tall screening tree for Santa Barbara, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, we live in Santa Barbara, California. We are looking for a tree between 20-30 feet high to block the neighbors two-story house yet the area we have to plant is 3 feet from the fence to the driveway. We currently have 3 majestic beauty olive trees along the fence in front of this location and are looking for options to blend with these and continue to block the house year round for privacy. My husband thought of an oak which I think would get too big and messy for this area. I thought an Australian Willow might work well but some find it boring. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

ANSWER:

Since the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes", we certainly wouldn't recommend an Australian Willow.   We do, however, have some native possibilities for you.

The one that sounds ideal for your purpose is Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii (Hollyleaf cherry).  Here is more information about it that indicates it makes an excellent tall, dense screening plant and can be planted in close proximity to a building or other structure.

Another possibility is Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius (Fernleaf catalina ironwood) and here are photos and more information.

Here are a couple of pines that are possibilities:

Pinus muricata (Bishop pine) and here are more information and photos

Pinus torreyana (Torrey pine) and here is more information.

 

From the Image Gallery


Catalina cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

Catalina cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

Torrey pine
Pinus torreyana

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