The Q&A Archives: Drought Proof Privacy Screening

Question: I want to plant a low maintenance privacy screen that won't grow over 8 ft tall. It needs to be drought proof as the spot it will be planted in reaches 114 degrees with direct sun in the summer, and -20 some winters. Our climate is high desert, with small amounts of precipitation. I would like it to be ornamental during some season, berries, or blooms, or foliage. Also it needs to be low cost, and grow quickly. Is there such a plant?

Answer: There are few plants that will thrive under the circumstances you describe, but Ceanothus (wild lilac) and Cotinus (smoke tree) are good candidates. Both plants will require regular watering through the first year until they become established. After that they can get along with occasional summer watering. Ceanothus produces blue flower spikes in the summer and Cotinus produces wispy tan colored plumes in the late summer.

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