Hedges and Screening for Privacy
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: I recently found out about your program at Todos Santos Square Farmer's Market in Concord. I spoke to one of your representatives about creating some privacy in our backyard, and he told me to consider privet because it can grow up to 40 feet high. I went to Home Depot, but they only have privet that grows to 7-8 feet. Could you please give me the name of privet that can grow up to 40 feet? Thank you!
The Glossy Privet, Ligustrum lucida, is the tallest privet; other privets grow up to 15 feet. Whilst the Glossy Privet is attractive and can grow quickly to 20-40', it also comes with significant maintenance problems. It naturalizes very easily and seedlings from the “fruit” (i.e., berries) will sprout virtually everywhere (even in groundcover). In fact, it is on the watch list of the California Invasive Plant Council (as are two other privets). Fruit drop can cause a mess unless trimmed early, and trimming will eventually prove difficult and expensive as your hedge grows taller. These issues are probably the reason that it is hard to find in stores.
Fortunately, there are several good alternatives to privets. For attractive taller hedges, you might consider:
Hop Bush, Dodonea viscosa 12-18 tall, 6-8' wide
Pacific Wax Myrtle, Myrica californica 15-30' tall and wide
Strawberry Tree, Arbutus Uneda 15-30' tall and wide
Sweet Viburnam, Viburnum awabuki 12' tall 8' wide
Pittisporum - several species
Photinia - several species
I have included suggestions above 10' tall as this height usually provides good privacy and is more manageable in terms of trimming than a 40' hedge!
When making your selection, please check these plants for temperature, soil and water needs for your location, as well as other criteria that are important to you.
If you would like to explore other options, we recommend the Sunset Western Garden Book and Plants and EBMUD's Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates in the San Francisco Bay Area. These books have lists of plants suitable for hedges and screens, as well as plant descriptions and great photographs. Both are normally available through the Contra Costa Public Library, online, or local book stores.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Help Desk if you have further questions.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (GHG)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>