Until last Saturday, a mature boxwood hedge separated our sidestrip, planted with California natives, from the neighbor's front yard, planted mainly with trees. Then, sadly, we found out from PG&E that they needed to dig a 4 foot trench from the PG&E box on the neighbor's property to the junction box at the side of our house. We have underground electric cables, usually a great thing, but frustrating in this case. We had already removed a lot of concrete and some plants in the sidestrip, but the hedge had to go as well.
Our wonderful neighbors graciously agreed -- they cleverly had done their electric upgrade many years ago, but the former owners of our house never had. Of course I'm promising a replacement hedge. And, while I'll certainly plant boxwood if that's their heart's desire, I did say I wanted to suggest some fast-growing, drought-tolerant native shrubs that might work. So here, without further ado, my top three choices:
1. Manzanita. One of the best plants for a sunny spot, green year round, and pretty in winter and early spring with flowers, manzanita is a great choice for a hedge. It's the first choice in the Las Pilitas post on easy drought tolerant hedges. Several species grow fairly fast and it's easy to keep them at the desired height. I'd want to hand prune my side, but I've seen manzanita pruned with hedge trimmers and still blooming attractively (double-click the photo, which is from Las Pilitas, to see the whole hedge).
2. Ceanothus (California wild lilac). Nothing says spring like Ceanothus in bloom, and interestingly, this drought tolerant, sun loving shrub also makes a very fine hedge. A simple Google search for Ceanothus Hedge show many attractive options. Ceanothus is probably the fastest growing of the choices. Ceanothus have a reputation of being short-lived, but can last 20+ years or more if kept without summer water. Below, a Ceanothus 'Tilden Park' just 1 year old, in my front garden.
3. Mahonia (Berberis). Another plant that blooms in late winter or early spring, mahonia is tough, tolerates sun or shade, grows quickly, and is easy to keep as a hedge.
And here's what I think would really work well:
- Let's make a mixed hedge from different species of manzanita, or different species of ceanothus or, (even better)
- Let's make a mixed hedge with all three species.
And now, I'm really curious what I'll be planting in a few weeks!