Podocarpus macrophyllus planting recomentation

Igo1234September 12, 2011

I want to plant Podocarpus macrophyllus in front of my house for the screening. I have ~75 feet long area to plant the trees.

What is the recommended planting distance between these trees?

I would like to see free standing trees after they grow, not bushes.

I am in Santa Clara county, California.

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

You're aware that P. macrophyllus is relatively slow to become a tree, and not likely to be much of a screen for another 15 to 20 years. From what I've seen, it might take 25 to 30 years for this to look like a tree. It is more often grown as a hedge because it stays hedge size for so long. P. gracilior makes a better screen tree over a shorter time span.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:13AM
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Generally speaking, when I think of the differences between trees and shrubs, I think that trees have had their side branches removed, exposing a clear trunk, in order to hold their foliage canopy well off the ground. Shrubs are allowed to retain their side branches and foliage all the way to the ground. Do you mean that when the Podocarpus are grown you want them to be limbed up with their foliage well off the ground? Do you want them to be separate from one another, or touching? Do you want these to be in a single row? Are they intended to screen something?...or just create a boundary to the space? If you're looking for advice on any of that, you might want to include a picture that shows the overall setting. Then maybe someone who knows the plant under west coast conditions can give you a good answer. (I know it in Eastern U.S.)

(To include a picture, upload it to a photo-hosting site where you have an account. On the page where the picture is, click on a link (for sharing) that allows you to obtain the picture's html code. Copy the code and paste it in your message here. If done correctly, when you preview the picture, you'll be able to see the picture along with your message.)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:41AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Trees and woody plants continue to grow after reaching "mature" size. So the question is when they will be the size you want: what period (or periods) in the lives of these podocarpus will they be the size you're thinking of? What sort of window do you have between the still too small period and the too close together to look like trees period?

It will help to make a list of the height and width the podocarpus will be in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and so on. The "mature size" that's listed on plant tags is usually a 10-year size (which depends, of course, on the climate and conditions where they're grown). So you can divide the 10-year height and width by 10, and that gives you the theoretical number of inches they'll add, height- and width-wise, each year. [You might also consult sources which are more local: the Sunset Western Garden Book, California-based online nurseries, etc. Or where there are large podocarpus macrophyllus near you, you might measure the width and ask how old they are.]

If you want a screen now and free-standing trees later, one option is to plant the podocarpus twice as close as you think the ideal final spacing would be. Then when they're nearly touching, remove every other one. That will give you a longer time when the podocarpus act as a screen but are visibly-separate trees.

Another version of that plan would be to plant something else besides podocarpus in the in-between locations (perhaps something quicker-growing that you'd keep to hedge-height, and which could be pruned back as the podocarpus grow).

How much depth were you planning on devoting to the podocarpus? How far from the edge of the property had you planned to plant them? Perhaps you could plant a temporary hedge at the property line, with the podocarpus in mature-spacing locations several feet away. As the podocarpus grow, you'd remove the hedge-plants that are too close to the podocarpus. [Or the podocarpus might be near the property line, and the hedge-shrubs closer to the house.]

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:42PM
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Here is the picture of the house.

I want to remove two big acacias and old cypresses. My idea is to plant single row of Podocarpus macrophyllus instead of them. I hope it will look nice and will make screen from the road. I donâÂÂt know if I want to remove lower brunches. I guess I can do it later.

Distance from the house to the sidewalk is 16 feet. Whole area is 75 feet long. I plan to plant trees 4 feet away from the sidewalk. So they will be 12 feet from the house. I would like to space them such a way that 10 year old trees overlap slightly. I am thinking to space them ~10 feet.

I like an idea to plant a temporary hedge behind or between the trees, and remove it later. What plant do you recommend for the temporary hedge?

Any suggestions?

Thank you for advice.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 4:56AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Igo1234, unfortunately I can't suggest prunable shrubs appropriate for your zone. Too much of my life has been lived in apartments in colder climes, and I haven't ever needed to worry about prunable hedges. (But when I did live in California, we had a couple of podocarpus macrophyllus, and I have a couple of babies here.)

If you plant 4' from the sidewalk, the podocarpus will eventually grow over the sidewalk, at which point you'll need to prune a bit or limb them up. But that will be long in the future.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 3:18PM
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I am having trouble figuring out exactly what are the objectives. Shade and street appeal does not seem to be included in the goals. You say screening of front (that being the area in the picture where there is lawn?) So it sounds like privacy is a concern. Do you mean complete visual obliteration of the house similar as you have it on the side...but just with "young blood" that is skinnier and fresher? Is there a concern for "street appeal"? (That tree/shrub showing in above pic overlapping the fireplace is the height and girth that Podocarpus grows to here after a few years...but I am in Fl., not California.) Are you trying to make a green "wall" around the house? No interest in shade trees that are taller than the house and cast shade from above? If you are trying to achieve certain effects, I cannot yet perceive what they are. You're just asking about spacing--which would vary depending on the effect you're trying to achieve. So that's what you need to tell about...effects that are desired. (If street appeal ends up being a concern, a photo taken from the front would be needed.)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 4:49PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

This wouldn't be an approach, (walling off the side of the house with a hedge of P. macrophyllus), but to give an example of typical growth rates here in California, the tree nearest the chimney would probably corresponding to 25 years size planted out from a 15 gallon initial shrub. They do tend to grow slowly here in northern California/SF Bay Area, perhaps a bit faster in s. California with good irrigation.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:15AM
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Yardviser, sorry for confusion. I donâÂÂt want to plant anything from the entrance side of the house. I am trying to screen only the area on one side of the house where you can see trees. I would like to plant new trees instead of the old and would like to make the row longer to the right until another sidewalk.

Shade is not a goal, but the street appeal is important.

Two acacias on the left side are so big and dense that in the room behind them very dark during a day. Roots of the acacias are so big that they have destroyed the lawn behind it. I am afraid that they may destroy the house too. Another tree on the right side is old and have rotten trunk. This is why I want to remove them.

I donâÂÂt want complete obliteration. I would like to have something similar to the trees in the middle of the picture, may be slightly taller.

If podocarpus is not an approach, what are the other options?

I looked at the Podocarpus gracilior. The can grow to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. I afraid it will not fit on my property.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:04AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

JI'd suggest using only 4 or 5 faster growing tree species that are smaller sized at maturity that also are less dense in habit. If you do like the Podocarpus macrophyllus, they can work, but at their rate of growth, will take a good 20 to 30 years to get 18 or so feet tall. Another quite interesting Podocarpus species to consider is P. latifolius 'Icee Blue', with gorgeous foliage. I'd also suggest things like Acacia cognata, Tristania laurina Elegant, Bronze Loquat or Hymenosporum flavum. Agonis flexuosa After Dark, or Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' could also work. Plants that are more shrub-like, such as Pittosporum tenuifolium silver foliaged selections such as Marjorie Channon or bamboos such as Bluestem bamboo or Alphonse Karr bamboo or Mexican Weeping Bamboo could also give you privacy along this side of the house from the street, and be kept thinned out occasionally to allow some more light through and show off their beautiful trunks.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Do you have experience with Agonis flexuosa After Dark in the bay area? Is it frost resistant? How fast does it grow?
It looks very nice.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 3:13AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

You don't say where you are in the bay area, and it isn't particularly frost hardy away from bay influence. If you regularly get freezes each winter below 27/28f, it wouldn't be a good choice. It has been fine for me here in Berkeley, Alameda, San Francisco, etc. The straight species, with green foliage is hardier, down to 25f.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 12:56PM
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I am in Palo Alto, CA

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 1:06PM
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How wide Agonis flexuosa After Dark grows?
I found on the internet very different information.
Some websites give 6 to 10ft, some 10 to 15ft, and some 15 to 25ft. What is the truth? It is very confusing.
How to space them?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 1:26AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It is a relatively new cultivar out of Australia, so ultimate mature width is not really known. Where I've used it and observed its growth over the past 5 years, it has stayed relatively narrow compared to height. I'd suggest about 8 to 10 feet on center as the closest spacing. After 5 years growth, trees I've planted are about 6 feet wide. The straight species____ with green foliage is much wider in habit, and easily gets 25 to 30 feet wide. I'd guess After Dark will top out at 10 ' wide by 18 feet tall at maturity.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 1:39AM
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