Hedge Advice Needed!

JollyGoatDecember 3, 2013


My husband & I live in Los Angeles CA and are looking to plant a privacy hedge. We live on a corner and would like to make our front yard, which has zero privacy at the moment, into a secure yard that our kids could eventually play in.
Because we live on a corner & for various other reasons we'd like this hedge to be as thin as possible (since the yard itself is already pretty small), but as dense as possible (since we live in a bit of a busy area, walkers, bikers, people who are homeless pooping on our lawn, etc) and basically sit in for a fence. (There are regulations concerning how tall a fence can be in the front yard that don't apply to shrubs)
I'm looking for something evergreen so it would give privacy year round.
Ideally something with roots not too invasive since we'd be planting it next to the sidewalk.
It would also be located in a spot on the property that doesn't get a ton of sun in the winter time.

Any thoughts? I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by the possibilities and this is my first time owning a home with a garden so I'm a bit of a novice.
Here are a few things I've stumbled across during my research but I'm not sure which, if any, would be the best option:

Pacific Wax Myrtle
Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'
Carolina Cherry Laurel
Green Tower Boxwood
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'

Any other ideas?

Also just to recap since I know I had a lot of specifications above:

fast grower
thin as possible
dense as possible
non-invasive roots
mostly morning sun & then shade in the winter, sunny in the summer
drought tolerant or even california native would be nice, if possible!
kid friendly
no bamboo please! I think it's beautiful but I don't think I could deal with it if it got out of hand!

Looking forward to your advice!

Thank you so much! :)

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iris_gal(z9 CA)

A corner neighbor has a side hedge of Hopseed Bush (Dodonaea viscosa) right next to the street. It's quite handsome and she has it pruned to about 8 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. (It gets pruned about every 6 months) Comes in green as well as purple. Hers is mostly green with a purple every 4th or 5th one. Dense --- I'd need to measure how far apart they're planted.

As much as I love Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' I doubt its use as a narrow hedge. Too wide. Have you seen it sheared?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 1:49AM
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I like Myrsine and Myrtus. Of the ones you listed I like the Wax Myrtle although I have never owned one. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 11:18PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I'm making the assumption that the physical barrier and time is more important to you than a stylish, trendy choice. I'm also assuming you want super-dense growth, not airy, see-through growth.

If it was me in that not very appealing situation of homeless people pooping on the lawn, I would go with boring, plain, common, utterly reliable old Privet, Ligustrum Japonicum, available in 1 gallons at any Home Depot for about $5 each.

Yes they are boring, and horribly common, but they are common for a very good reason: they make a dense, tough hedge FAST.

Plant them at 3' centers and you'll have a substantial physical barrier in a year. Water them generously and feed them a couple of times and tip the stems growing outwards back as they grow.

Ligustrum well watered and fed will quickly grow 6'-8' stems that arch outwards and wave above the rest of the original juvenile (baby plant) growth. Temporarily stake these stems straight UP or almost straight up with bamboo stakes, creating a strong basis for vertical growth. Cut them at the height you want. They will stiffen up and branch outwards. Then cut those outward growing side branches at the width you want, but reasonably you need to give them at least 30", a little more would be better.

My experience is that the one gallons grow faster and stronger than the fives (at one third the price). Make totally sure you get FRESH plants that have just come in from the suppliers, not old stock that has been sitting around.

If I had kids though I would also put a chain link fence of legal height (3'? 4'?) right next to the sidewalk, and grow the Privet inside that. Extra security when toys go rolling out into the street. Chain link lasts for decades. Better choice than wood and much cheaper than wrought iron or vinyl and guys who know what they are doing can install it in one day. Again I am assuming you are concerned with security first and style not so urgently and that you do not have unlimited money to spend.

Almost any plant, if it gets a reasonable amount of sun during the growing season, can take winter shade. You will get better foliage density with more sun.

I'm growing the Green Tower Boxwood also. I think it's a great, great plant for a screen, but it's going to be a lot slower (add 3-4 years) than Ligustrum to get really dense, and the initial cost of the plants is going to be a lot higher. They get tall fast, but they don't get dense fast. Something like that would certainly work but you have to balance out the cost & time involved as to what you want.

Ligustrum planted from 1 gallons:

11 months later, nearly 6'.

At about the middle of the second photo on the right, with the fence as the background, you can see the long arching stems they throw out when young. If you train those mostly upwards it will give you a narrower plant and more height faster than letting them just arch horizontally.

Best of luck with your project!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 7:24PM
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