Tall Shrubs


Creating An Evergreen, Living Fence Using Tall Shrubs And Trees

Tall shrubs can be trained into tree form but unlike trees, their natural habit is to have multiple woody stems or trunks.  Trees, by definition, have a single trunk, and can increase in height almost forever, some for hundreds of years.  Tall shrubs will usually not grow more than 20 feet tall.

When creating a wind break or living fence for privacy, you can use trees, but tall shrubs have the advantage of fully blocking the view, harsh winds or noise, from the ground to their tops.

You can select shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, that grow 6 to 20 feet tall. Since you may want to have full privacy, here we will discuss evergreens. Good evergreen choices include camellias, bottlebrush, and others too numerous for this brief overview, that have flowers and fruit of every color imaginable, some with a fabulous fragrance. 

If you prefer flowers, camellias are wonderful for his purpose.  They will form a complete barrier between 2 pieces of property, for instance if you want a fence between you and your neighbor. They grow to 20 feet tall and almost that wide. They will not be dense and tall initially so your fence will be a gradual addition to your property. You can expect growth of 6 to ten feet over a fifteen-year period.

Once entrenched, camellias are virtually impenetrable due to the ever-increasing dense wooden trunks and stems, loaded with large sturdy green leaves.  Their leaves remain glossy medium to dark green all year, unless dehydrated. Plant camellias in layers, starting with short varieties, and the tallest on the outside of your “fence”.

Camellias live in warm or cold areas and require little care other than regular watering, and fertilizing. Blooms may start in the dead of winter, sometimes as early as Christmas, and keep going until late spring or early summer. They will not tolerate full sun in hot areas.  Provide partial shade regardless of the climate zone.

Bottle brushes form a dense tall shrub, and are good for lining the street in front of a property, as they are not impacted adversely by pollution, wind or abuse.  This also gives them full sun in most cases, which they require to thrive.  They need virtually no care. Bottle brushes are usually a cheery bright orangey red.  If not controlled with pruning they can take over other plants.  Lemon bottle brush (in name only, not yellow in color) can grow to 20 feet tall in as little as 5 years. To encourage this rapid growth, prune to make a single steam on each plant.

You are sure to find the right type of tall shrub or tree for a living fence or wind brake.  Another fast grower is bamboo. Or Chinese holly, which grows six to ten feet, sometimes within five years, eight at the most.  Give your fence time to establish and you will have a new living space in the out of doors, where you and your family can relax and enjoy life.