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bonitapplebum

Evergreen edible privacy screen options?

bonitapplebum
February 18, 2019


Coastal bay area zone 9b/10a, sunset 16. Our low temps are 30-35 degrees, we do get mild frost here and there between late December to early February. Highs are 90-95. I have clay soil but it has broken down considerably after I mulched it heavily. The area in question gets a full day of western exposure sun in the winter and in the summer, sun until 4pm.



I have a narrow area against my fence with an odd neighbor and I need to plant a privacy screen here that reaches about 8-10 feet. I would like to plant something edible, evergreen, and something that doesn't take forever to reach that height. I also do not have a lot of width here. Does anyone have any ideas for what I can grow?

Comments (29)

  • nmfruit

    I’m not in your zone, but if I were I’d probably look into strawberry guava or feijoa, both seem to make a good hedge, though I don’t know about growth rate, etc. You might also consider putting in some supports for passionfruit, kiwi, or other fruiting vines, which would definitely cover in a hurry.

  • PRO
    The Logician LLC

    The feijoa mentioned is planted often in that area; would take at least 5 years to get that big. How narrow is the area? Pruning to keep it in bounds could reduce the privacy factor, especially for a broadleaf evergreen like feijoa.

  • melikeeatplants

    yes fejoia or if you can make something for passion fruit to climb on edulis taste very good

    bonitapplebum thanked melikeeatplants
  • bonitapplebum

    The Logician LLCThe area is about 3 feet wide. Can I keep them to a 2 or 3 feet width? Do they espalier thickly?

  • summersrhythm_z6a

    Grapes? It should be evergreen in your zone.

  • bonitapplebum

    Do olive trees grow slowly? How long would it take for trees to get til about 12 feet high?

  • Ike Stewart

    Thinking outside the box a bit, but how about sugarcane, it is fast growing some of the heirloom varieties grow to only 7-8 feet such as Blue Ribbon or Florida Red (8-9 ft). Will reach full height in one growing season, and it is edible either chewing, juicing.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Evergreen grapes? Really? I've never seen grapes becoming evergreen. Do they?

  • Robin Morris

    I asked the same question a few months back:

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5554126/edible-privacy-needed-asap-bananas

    How narrow is your area?

    I am going to use fejoia in my front yard as a privacy hedge as they won't really get large enough for my needs.

    I haven't planted the area I asked about yet, but I've decided to do a citrus hedge in the area I need privacy the most and pomegranates (which may be evergreen) in the part where it is not important. Citrus grows pretty quickly and can be shaped. If you get that much heat in the summer (my highs are normally in the low 70s), you will have way better luck with citrus than I will.

    But seriously, if you want complete privacy and fruit in 8 months, trellis a Fredrick Passion Fruit. I have an out of control one on the other side of my yard. It will grow on everything 30ft in every direction. In a week or so I'm going to seriously prune it and save my meyer lemon and persimmon tree that have been overrun. It is great, but too vigorous for the area I need privacy. We had fresh passion fruit juice for lunch... so refreshing with a bit of lime and agave.

    bonitapplebum thanked Robin Morris
  • melikeeatplants

    Grapes will drop leaves in California all zones.

    bonitapplebum thanked melikeeatplants
  • bonitapplebum thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • bonitapplebum

    Robin MorrisI like the idea of a citrus hedge, but I'm not sure how long it will take. Can you tell me more?


    How tall do you plan yours will get, what maturity tree do you plan on getting, how close do you plant them together, and how quickly do you imagine it will reach your desired height (mine would be about 12 feet)?


    Do you buy a regular non dwarf tree to hedge it to get the height?

  • bonitapplebum

    And yes, there is a small grape farm about 5 minutes inland from us and they do not have leaves when its cold.

  • bonitapplebum


    Ike Stewart This is an interesting idea! I'm not sure I have the heat or the soil type for sugarcane.

  • summersrhythm_z6a

    Oh, never mind. The northern grapes drop the leaves after chills. I’d think it’s not cold enough in CA. Northern grapes? Lol

  • Robin Morris

    As I haven't planted them yet, I don't have all the answers for you. I think with the heat you have in the summer they can grow fairly quick, but it would still take many years to get up to 12'.

    Definitely don't get dwarfing root stock in your case. And you can get really large trees at some nurseries if you are willing to pay for them ($100-$200 more per tree can saving years of waiting). Since I am planting on a raised bed, I only need 5-6' and I am very particular about the variety I want, so I may not be able to get larger ones to start.

    I think you could plant them up to 8' apart to get a hedge. I am going to plant mine at 4' or 5' as I want as many varieties in a small space as possible.

    For reference, a few houses down from me in an alley against a building there are 3 citrus trees planted about 4' apart. They are a good 14' tall and shaped into a perfectly rectangular dense hedge about 3' wide. IMO the trees would look a bit healthier and produce more if they were pruned to let more light into the canopy, but they still do pretty well and there is normally fruit on them.


  • Robin Morris

    summersrhythm_z6a, there is nowhere in the world where grapes don't drop their leaves. They are deciduous in any climate.

  • summersrhythm_z6a

    What about hardy fruit trees? Honey Jar Jujube?

  • summersrhythm_z6a

    Ok, thanks. Grapes drop leaves.

  • summersrhythm_z6a

    How about roses with fruit trees combine? Plant 2-3 fruit trees, link them up with big ropes. Plant small ramblers /climbers to climb on trees and ropes. Roses should be evergreen over there for sure. There are so many roses you could plant, I like mme Alfred Carriere. You could use rose petals in your cooking.....

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    If you want the fruit trees to be healthy and productive tying them together with ropes and growing rambler roses on the swags isn't going to work. Alternating fruit trees with something like obelisks of roses could work but not with the roses attached to the trees.

    Horizontal strained wires could be used for grapes, kiwis, or whatever Rubus canes grow well in your climate. Or they could be used for espaliered fruit trees. If you want evergreens bay laurel, citrus, feijoa could work. Possibly rose apple but I do not know its suitability for your clmate.

  • PRO
    The Logician LLC

    Feijoa varieties vary in bushiness. Some varieties would create privacy at 3 feet in depth, but it would be a lot of annual work. Also, regular pruning of this shrub greatly reduces the fruit crop. Mature plants would be hard to keep dense at only 3 feet wide.

  • Ike Stewart

    Sugarcane is a member of the true grass family, and its growth season mimics common lawn grass fairly closely, so if it is warm enough for your lawn to stay green year round it should be warm enough for sugarcane. It is grown commercially as far north as the northern edge of zone 9a here in Louisiana, though much more commonly in southern 9a and 9b.


    As to citrus, I have several in ground citrus trees, but the one that is probably the best candidate for hedge use in the short term is my Cara Cara orange tree, its growth pattern is very dense and upright, reaching over 7 ft of height and about 3 ft of width in under 3 years (planted from a 24 inch tall mail order tree just a couple of weeks short of 3 years ago). I also have Satsumas and a Meyers lemon that are about the same age, and all are shorter than the Cara Cara, with the less dense foliage. I also have a couple of 20+ year old Satsuma trees that are 15-18 ft wide and until I recently topped them were getting up over 12 ft tall, though I would not want to try to turn one into a hedge as they tend to be much more spreading in growth sending out long drooping limbs in all directions..


    Of course I live on the 8b/9a line and citrus grows slowly when soil temperatures are below about 70 degrees F which is about 5 months of the year here, so they may grow faster where you live. The advantage I see to sugar cane is of course it is much faster growing (one of the fasted growing plants in the world), and its growth habit is much like bamboo so is prone to growing in dense clusters of stalks making for an easy to manage hedge, though one does have to be cautious of the sharp edged leaves.


    p.s. be aware modern commercial hybrid sugarcane gets MUCH taller than the heirloom varieties like Blue Ribbon, Florida Red, Home Green, etc. often reaching heights of 15-19 feet.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    'If it's warm enough for your lawn to stay green year round it should be warm enough for sugarcane.'

    It needs a lot more specific conditions than that. You don't see it growing in the British Isles and our grass is definitely green all year round. Whether it would grow where the OP is I cannot say, but using the greenness of the lawn to decide isn't an accurate guide.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Maybe it is just me but I can't see a homeowner going to the trouble to harvest sugar cane to eat or convert into some sort of more usable product. That would be a nonstarter in my book :-)

    The feijoa or hedge citrus makes far more sense given the space and climate constraints.

  • Ike Stewart

    Sugarcane is a member of the grass family, there really is not a lot more to it than that, of course it does need soil that is conducive to growing grass, as well as sunlight, and continued fertilization as it does tend to suck the nutrients out of the soil. Remember we are talking about the question of if it grows, not if it grows at a rate to be a successful viable commercial crop. I am growing some here on the 8b/9a line about about 60-75 miles north of the north edge of its coastal commercial growing zone here in Louisiana, and it is by no means commercially viable, though it is self sustaining. It greens up in March, starts sending up new canes, which grow to 6-8 feet tall before being killed by the first freeze of the year around November, just like the rest of the grass. Reduce the growing viability for grass, and you reduce the growing viability for sugarcane. Though perhaps one should specify variety of grass to be more accurate and say something like if Bermuda Grass grows well so should sugarcane.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    No one is talking about it being a viable commercial crop....only that for a simple backyard garden, sugar cane as an "edible" is unlikely to be very practical!! And it just looks like a tall, weedy grass....which is exactly what it is. It would not be high on my list of edibles for any kind of privacy screen!

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    If it's killed off by frost then does it need cutting to the ground every winter to make way for new growth, like any other ornamental grass? If so there'd be no screen in the winter and a rather unpleasant annual chopping chore.

  • Ike Stewart

    I am just throwing sugarcane out there as a fast growing option, being fast growing it will need some ongoing care, removal of old / dead canes, etc. On the edible side with a small roller press it can be juiced to provide a natural sweetener that some claim is healthier than refined sugar, it can also be boiled down to make syrup, or the canes can be split and chewed for a sweet snack. Kids in particular seem to enjoy the novelty of chewing sugarcane.


    As to need to be cut to the ground, this entirely depends on if the OP is in an area that is subject to grass killing frosts. If so the Sugarcane stalks will naturally transport the sugar to the roots, then shrivel up and die and need to be removed. The leaves with their sharp edges is probably a bigger cleanup chore than the stalks though. If not in a region that has grass killing frost then only occasional thinning would be needed as in commercial production in many regions sugarcane is grown on an 18 month cycle.

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