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Hedge Fun

Local landscape professionals recommend their favorite flora for privacy and panache.

By John Roark


Russell Greey, landscape architect

Sour orange is an excellent choice for both traditional and modern-style homes in the Valley. The fast-growing, dense shrub boasts glossy dark leaves and thorny branches that provide an extra layer of security for perimeter walls. It is a myth that this plant attracts roof rats; vermin do not care for the tart taste of the fruit. Do to its evergreen nature, sour orange has a weekly leaf drop. Fruit collection and removal is also required.

Plant name: Sour orange (Citrus aurantium)

Elevations: Low and middle

Size: 10′-20’H by 10′-15’W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Moderate

Flowers: Petite fragrant white blossoms, late winter to midspring

Arizona Rosewood

Donna Winters, landscape architect

The Arizona rosewood is an evergreen shrub that does very well in the desert’s extreme temperatures. It can be trained as either a hedge or a tree and is a favorite low-water alternative to oleander for living walls and privacy screens. Homeowners will also appreciate that there is very little cleanup, other than retrieving the small brown fruit that drop in autumn.

Plant name: Arizona rosewood
(Vauquelinia californica)

Elevations: All

Size: 12′-15’H by 10′-15’W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Low

Flowers: Small white clusters in early summer

Carolina Cherry

Sal Bracale, landscape designer

Native to the Southwest, the Carolina cherry can handle the heat and requires minimal watering once established. The versatility of this evergreen shrub allows it to flourish almost anywhere in your landscape, and its dense canopy makes a picturesque privacy hedge. It can also be trimmed as a low hedge to create barriers throughout a yard or line property borders. Flowers drop, so avoid planting near swimming pools or water features.

Plant name: Carolina cherry (Prunus caroliniana ‘Compacta’)

Elevations: All

Size: 8′-10’H by 6′-8’W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Minimal

Flowers: Small, white fragrant blossoms in spring

Green Hopseed

Jeremy McVicars, landscape designer

One of the fastest-growing plants in the Southwest, green hopseed delivers excellent screening in a short period of time. Its bright green leaves provide a nice counterpoint to darker foliage. While some gardeners shear it for a tailored, formal look, this plant also has a pleasing natural form. Its tropical vibe makes it an attractive accent around pools or patios.

Plant name: Green hopseed (Dodonaea viscosa)

Elevations: Low and middle

Size: 12’H by 10’W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Drought-tolerant once established

Flowers: Tiny yellow-green blooms throughout the year


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