The Q&A Archives: Large-scale hedge material

Question: I am working on a design for the Shorecliffs Home Owners Association. I am looking for a hedge material that can be used as a backdrop for some new entry monuments. I need something that might get to be around 10' tall to screem houses and yards that are visable from PCH. I was thinking about Ficus nitida or Photinia, but do you have any other suggestions.

Answer: The two plants you've chosen are vastly different in appearance so you'll need to decide whether you want a formal or informal look to your new hedge. Photinia makes an excellent evergreen backdrop, with the seasonal interestes of red foliage in the spring. The leaves are large and the look is informal, even when these plants are sheared into neat squares or columns. Ficus retusa 'Nitida', the Indian Laurel Fig, will grow 20-25' tall with equal width. It has an interesting weeping habit and can be sheared into formal landscape forms, including a dense privacy screen. It can also be trained into a tree. If you decide on this plant, be sure to specify the shrub form rather than the patio tree form when you order your Ficus 'Nitida'.

For something really different, you might consider a bamboo. Clumping types of bamboo are attractive, easy to maintain, and won't overgrow the area. Alphonse Karr grows 8-10' with one-inch culms; Golden Goddess grows 6-8" tall with half-inch culms; Fountain Bamboo grows 6-8' with half- to one-inch culms. This plant forms a light, airy, graceful clump. The greenish purple culms mature to a deep purplish black which is stunning against the green foliage.

Best wishes with your landscaping project!

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