please help with shrub/tree suggestions for my backyard

DesertRain(9)April 4, 2012

I'm in southern California, western riverside county. summers get to 110+ winter can drop below freezing, a few nights a year. my wife and i just bought a new single story home that is surrounded by two story homes, our backyard fence is five and a half feet tall, when we moved in the backyard is totally un landscaped, its bare. i had a few potted cacti that i planted in one small corner of the back yard, just want my desert plants, in one small area.

i am a person who loves tree's, and plants of all kinds, love the green look. my backyard is small, so thats the first hurdle, as i would love a much larger yard, for more trees. but that is hard to come by in southern california. so i am planning on planting 2 trees in my backyard, one a little larger than the other. smaller one needs to be around 17 ft high and no larger than 20 ft wide at full maturity, looking for something colorful in spring and fall, like maybe a redbud tree. the second slightly larger tree needs to be around 25 ft tall and no larger than 25 ft. wide at full maturity, something to create shade, but nothing too common, maybe a desert willow or chipalta tree.

Then I desperately need a privacy screen along the fence-line. something that i can either buy thats already 6-7 ft tall or something that grows fast, nothing huge, nothing over 12 ft tall, 10 ft wide at full maturity, i dont mind some pruning, right now i have no idea of what i'de like to use as privacy screen shrubs/tree's, thought about american holly, but then realized the leafs are too sharp to brush against, also considered oleanders, but i know they can get out of hand somewhat.

please give me tree ideas for the two tree's. and privacy shrub/tree idea's for the privacy screen need. thanks so much for your time, also i included the layout of my backyard. thanks!!

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Do you want evergreen trees or deciduous? The xChitalpa tashkentensis Pink Dawn is about the size you want for your larger tree, and is longer blooming without the messy looking seed pods of the Desert Willow. Smaller tree might use an Oleander trained as a standard, or you might consider the rather common but always beautiful, fast growing and long blooming Crape Myrtle. Another well adapted for heat and drought smallish tree might include Rhus lancea or an Acacia podalyrifolia or Acacia cultriformis. Narrow
growing screens up against a fence might include Grewia
occidentalis or Tecomeria capensis; both take heat and can be kept trimmed to 6 to 8 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide if kept clipped as a flowering hedge.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:11AM
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we have decided to go with 1 podocarpus tree, 1 pink dawn, and 1 muskogee crape myrtle tree.

and for the privacy screen, grewia occidentalis!

thank you bahia for the great suggestions!

what would you suggest i use to mix with the soil from the hole? maybe garden soil or some type of compost?


    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 1:01AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Be aware that while the Grewia can be kept fairly narrow if trained as an espalier, if not so trained it will grow as a wide bush. I'd suggest starting off with espalier trained 5 or 15 gallon size from the nursery. This shrub may also drop some foliage in your freezes, but is generally safe to use as an evergreen hedge if you seldom drop below 27ðF or so. Your much warmer winter days may give you better evergreen character in winter, they can tend to thin out a bit in colder winters here in northern California.

As to amending your soil, it depends on what you have to start with. First thing is to dig any planting pit at least 2 to 3 times wider than your container size, but no deeper, and flood test to see that water drains fully within a couple of hours. I generally do amend the backfill 50% with aged compost or similar, but current horticultural research says this is unnecessary, and a surface application of compost as mulch is more beneficial, repeated once or twice a year. I'd suggest you get a copy of the Sunset Western Garden Book as a good general reference for your gardening and plant questions, it should answer most any gardening question you might have.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 10:44AM
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