8'-12' tall very narrow tree, shrub

leslieellAugust 12, 2013

Hi, I've searched the forum and seen similar postings but not quite this same dilemma. I have a space 20 feet long by only 26 inches wide - very narrow, I know! Along this stretch I have one space where I need to block an ugly view, perhaps 4 feet long by 8-12 feet high. There is a fence that is 6 feet tall so the privacy is only needed at the top. Ideally, I'd like some space to plant in front of this area... but I'm limited so I'm open.

This area is against a retaining wall so no intrusive roots. Also under power lines... I don't want to fight it to keep it small. One final issue, it's around a pool so litter is an issue. Ideally I'd like to plant a cottage style garden. I'm in Burbank. One website says I'm USDA zone 10a, another says I'm 8b. (I'm searching by zip code so I don't understand the discrepancy.) The area receives full sun.

I've thought about a couple Privet or Photinia that will just fade into the background. Or a hibiscus, or shrubs trained as small trees like duranta, oleander or ceanothus. Maybe Italian Buckthorn, or Viburnum. Then there are the columnar types like Green Tower or Sky Pencil. Is there anything that is narrow and tree like at the bottom but fuller or branch like at the top? Or just a very small tree?

I know I'm all over the place... I'm overwhelmed with online research and visiting gardens and nurseries and I really need advice from real gardeners. Any suggestions?

Thank you!

This post was edited by leslieell on Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 19:11

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

if you only need a couple of feet above the fence, why not train bouganvilla across the top? It will easily fit a narrow space and form a nice 2 foot mass above the fence for privacy. It will drop bracts, what people call flowers on this plant, once a year but otherwise they are fine.

Any hedge plant is going to require constant maintenance to keep within 26 inches. That means that evenif the plant doesn't drop leaves, there will be plenty of pruning litter from the hedge clippers.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 11:17AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

also, being in Burbank, you should use Sunset Western Garden Zones not USDA Zones. They represent our microclimates better.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Thank you for the bougainvillea suggestion, I'll look into it! Any other ideas? Fyi, my Sunset zone is 20.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 1:21PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Grewia occidentalis would be a perfect hedge for such a narrow strip, but it also has small leaves and petals which would be messy around a pool. Bougainvillea only dropping bracts once a year; thats a real laugh... You might consider Schefflra pueckleri, a classic pool screening large shrub/small tree, which would eventually need pruning to control height. Chamaedorea plumosa would also work. Around a pool with no cover, it is generally better to select plants that seldom drop leaves, or have large leaves that are easier to fish out with a net. Pococarpus latifolius Icee Blue would also work.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Oh nice... does the Schefflera need frequent pruning or just occasional? Are the roots ok next to a retaining wall? I like the look of it (may have to change the theme from cottage to troipcal) but don't want to be fighting something to keep it in the small space.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:22PM
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molewacker z9b Napa CA (No.SFBay)(9b Danville E(SF)Bay CA)

I have a similar need. However, along my row of 40 feet i would need something that could tolerate full sun as well as complete shade (close/under a neighbor's tree). they must be drought tolerant too.
I would appreciate any suggestions!
Thank you , George K.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:34PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Must be a difference in watering Bahia. The boug on my neighbor's fence dries out and drops everything all at once. I mean sure it's over like a two month period, but it isn't dropping continuously all year long. But then it is grown hard with no supplemental water.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:17PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

This is the most commonly asked question on the forum, I think. Some day someone will become very rich by hybridizing this perfect narrow screening shrub! I wish they would create it now, I need some. Meanwhile, here's the FAQ answer.

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQs

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:35AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Schefflera pueckleri does develop some rather aggressive surface roots with age, and may be perfectly safe it your wall has a properly reinforced foundation of concrete with rebar, but not enough info here to advise you in your circumstances. In general Podocarpus latifolius or another species is probably a safer choice if your retaining walls are of questionable construction.I've also seen Magnolia grandiflora dwarfer cultivars used as trained espaliers in narrow planters without foundation problems. As to just one 2 month drop of flowers for Bougainvillea, not how I see them work here in northern California where most cultivars have two to three waves of bloom throughout the year, and drop massive amounts of flowers. Not a vine I'd use by a pool without a pool cover.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:47AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

at 26" wide, a trellis with a vine or decorative panels is your best choice. Ye Olde Standbye Star Jasmine. Bougies get too wide, and have thorns of length and sharpness.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:26PM
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