Truly_Rotten
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Project in the Desert

Hi Everyone! You have a fantastic forum!

I just relocated to the high desert area, zone 9b, and wanted to cultivate a nice garden. Do you have any suggestions for a privacy hedge that can withstand full sun? All I have to work with is a chainlink fence around the yard. All my creative brain could muster was to build a perimeter planter and put 6'-10' evergreen trees all around....can someone point me in a good direction...thank you.

bullthistle
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Being in the high desert means getting water to the plants which should mean planting them in the ground because they could dry out in a planter. It's been a while and the only evergreen I can think of is fir.

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rainbowgardener
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Welcome to the forum! Glad you found us, hope you find it friendly and helpful.

High desert is difficult gardening conditions. Water is a precious resource, so you really need to think carefully about what you plant and use plants that are adapted to your conditions.

Look for the Sunset Western Gardens book, which gives lots of resources for specific western climate types.

Check out https://www.wildflower.org/plants/combo.php?start=25&distribution=OH&light_shade=1&1&pagecount=25

This is a Native Plants data base, maintained by the LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center at U Texas. You can put your state into the data base, then tell it what kind of plant you are looking for (tree, shrub, vine, etc -- you could just do vines along the fence) and what sun exposure (full sun)

I did a search using New Mexico, as an example state where there might be high desert, full sun, dry soil, perennial vine and came up with six suggestions including drummond's clematis, Lindheimer's morning glory, western white honeysuckle, purple milkweed vine. But that's just an e.g., you could also search shrubs or trees or whatever.

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bewildered_nmsu
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I live in Southern New Mexico (also zone 9) and the most common vines are Virginia Creeper, Japanese Honeysuckle and English Ivy. Honeysuckle would probably be best for a fence. Most common evergreen hedge would probably be Hardy Oleander (Nerium sp.), Evergreen Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) or Texas Sage (Leucophyllum sp.). Oleanders make nice, large, hardy hedges when planted on centers 5'-6' apart but they are poisonous so be careful if you have children. Go to the non-big box garden center in your area and tell the local expert what you need and they'll help you out.

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rainbowgardener
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But the japanese honeysuckle, english ivy, and euonymus are all aggressively invasive exotics, that are choking out native species in many areas of the country. Where I used to live was a five acre woods, where almost all the wildflowers and many of the native trees have been totally eliminated by the combination of those three species.

I can't recommend using any of them anywhere. English ivy is also very destructive not only to trees, but to buildings, fences, brickwork, etc. Here's a little article (about how to try to get rid of it) that talks some about the ecological threat it poses. https://www.nps.gov/plants/ALIEN/fact/hehe1.htm

I agree about working with knowledgeable local gardeners and (independent) garden stores, but your garden and the local ecosystem will both benefit if you focus on mainly native species.

For example, the native birds and butterflies and other wildlife are adapted to local plant species and will be attracted to them and not to the exotics.

see also: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/nativegardening/index.shtml

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bewildered_nmsu
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All of the species that I named need constant care in this arid climate and are not invasive. Maybe they would be in a susceptible environment but not here. Native plants are great but there are none that make a nice privacy hedge. Trust me, I'm a knowledgeable local gardener.

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rainbowgardener
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Well "need constant care" is the flip side of non-native...

You mentioned natives (the virginia creeper and oleander, texas sage) and so did I.

For privacy hedge, native evergreen shrubs (again I was searching New Mexico) include

coyotebrush, desert ceanothus, mountain mahogany, choisya (mexican orange), shrubby cinquefoil, common juniper, evergreen sumac, red barberry, agarita. All should be easy care, low maintenance, and have good habitat value, full sun and drought tolerant.

You would have to look a little harder to find some of these, maybe order on line, but to me it would be well worth the starting effort.

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bewildered_nmsu
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You mentioned natives (the virginia creeper and oleander, texas sage) and so did I.
Those aren't natives (creeper, oleander and sage). They just do well in this climate.
Well "need constant care" is the flip side of non-native...
Actual I was being too general here. All of the vines I named need constant care but the shrubs I named just need periodic watering and they're definitely not invasive.
For privacy hedge, native evergreen shrubs (again I was searching New Mexico) include

coyotebrush, desert ceanothus, mountain mahogany, choisya (mexican orange), shrubby cinquefoil, common juniper, evergreen sumac, red barberry, agarita. All should be easy care, low maintenance, and have good habitat value, full sun and drought tolerant.
The plants you named are nice but this person is asking recommendations for a privacy screen. The only plant you mentioned that is somewhat suitable for this as far as growth rate, size and density is the coyote bush and that plant is deciduous (obviously not ideal for privacy).

I'm not trying to be disagreeable but I know a lot about landscaping in this climate. Though they're not native, an oleander or euonymus japonicus hedge makes an ideal privacy screen and believe me they are sustainable.

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