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Shrub / small tree recommendation for privacy in SF yard?

9 years ago


We have a small backyard and a camellia "tree" in the back corner
that provides privacy and a sense of enclosure (we have two-story
neighbors directly behind us to each side, with fencing all around).
I've determined it probably has some kind of dieback / root rot and will
need to be removed, so I'm thinking about possible replacements. Given
our location, yard and needs, the specs on what might work are pretty
limiting - so turning to this group for some creative ideas.

Here's what we need:
- Overall objective is privacy, so needs to grow to ~8-10 feet, but can
be maintained at max 12 ft height without too much difficulty, as
there are overhead power lines. The camellia we had seemed to naturally
out right around 10 ft.
- Would like a perennial so that we have privacy year-round
- Space isn't huge, so ideally would be something that can be shaped to
be narrower at the bottom and branch out at the top (the camellia had
been trained into a sort of canopy that was perfect)
- Would like to avoid a conifer - wouldn't fit particularly well with
the other plants in our yard (FYI: pink jasmine, lavendar, cistus,
coleonema, tibouchina, the ubiquitous and invasive calla lilies). So
something with evergreen foliage would be better.
- Fast-growing
- Soil is quite sandy and drains well, but this is still a reasonably
damp part of the yard, so we need to avoid something that is really
susceptible to rot / can't take regular watering (which the neighboring
plants require)
- Ideally produces flowers / has some color
- We're in San Francisco, which I've seen described as USDA Zone 8 or 10
online, and Sunset Zone 17. But it never freezes, never
gets above 85 degrees, days often start and end overcast but are blue
sky from 10am-4pm, and we have a chilly fog that blows through our
backyard every night during the summer months. Recently very limited
rainfall (~15-16"/year). Tree/shrub would be in borderline full sun /
partial sun.

I'd appreciate any suggestions that you have!

Thanks in advance

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