The Q&A Archives: type of container tree

Question: Need a screen along our 6 foot wide deck to eliminate the view of the house they are building behind us. Like the Leyland cypress, or arbor vitae? or what have you. Need containers to span twenty feet width, at least. Containers can be deep and wide, but hopefully less than 3 feet wide or we lose too much of the deck. Need only 5 or 6 feet in height to screen view. Want happy trees, spaced apart 3,4 or 5 feet apart? Plan every 6 months to scrape down sides or prune root ball to inhibit growth of roots swirling around container. Want happy plants:three miles offshore in mid San Francisco; occasional fog; back porch deck; afternoon sun usually. Would consider any type of tree or shrub that would screen. First thought cypress, or juniper, but could be decorative, fragrant, floral, not necessarily a hedge, but must want to live in a container and would be nice if low maintenance. Any suggestions, options? Please?

Answer: The narrowest selection would be arborvitae. They won't need root pruning as they have relatively small root systems because they grow tall and remain about 2' in diameter, even in maturity. I would not recommend unpotting every 6 months to root prune. The plants will become stressed and will eventually fail. A second suggestion is Indian Laurel (ficus). This, too is relatively narrow and can be sheared to maintain the desired shape. Neither of these shrubs produces flowers. Hope one of them works for you!

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