The Q&A Archives: Tall privacy hedge

Question: There is currently a 20' Eugenia hedge between my neighbor and ourselves. It is overgrown and very dirty.
We would like to replace it. We would want to plant material that is 7-8' tall at the outset. We are less than a mile from the coast.
We like podocarpus but understand that the seed pods are poisonous and we have babies.
The Thuja is a possibility but is more of a zone 9 plant than a coastal plant.
Ficus is a possibility but is not really a hedge type plant and pruning is expensive.
What do you suggest.
Thank you for your help.
Randy Jefferson

Answer: There are a number of hedging plants that will serve the purpose you describe. Some provide seasonal bloom, all are broadleaf evergreens, and all are easy to maintain. Escallonia (my first choice) provides pink blooms in late summer and has medium-green one-inch leaves. Photinia has inconspicuous flowers but the new growth is red, turning to dark-green. Ceonothus provides lilac colored flower spikes in spring, with wrinkled, glossy green leaves. I'd suggest Yew, but the berries can be toxic if eaten. Thuja will work in your area but I'd steer away from Ficus because of their invasive root systems. If you like the look of eugenia, you can replace the older plants and keep them trimmed so they remain attractive. Because the roots of the existing eugenia are so firmly established you may even be able to prune the plants back to renew them rather than replace them(just a thought). Best wishes with your landscape!

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