We live in Fair Oaks Village and want to plant a tall hedge (to reach about 7 feet) as a privacy fence. However, there is a massive maple tree in that part of our yard, so there is only filtered sun throughout the day. What hedge do you recommend?
Dean and Katherine Adraktas, Fair Oaks
According to UC master gardener Veronica Simpson, a visit to the arboretum on the UC Davis campus provides an opportunity to view many suitable plants. (For more information and maps, check the arboretum website, http://arboretum. ucdavis.edu.)
Consider planting California natives. They are well adapted to our conditions, need less water, add beauty and preserve wildlife habitat, and require little long-term maintenance once established.
Here are some suggestions and their locations in the arboretum:
Hybrid tea olive (Osmanthus x fortunei) has slow, dense growth; and fragrant, evergreen glossy green leaves with tiny white flowers in spring and early summer. This hedge, which needs low to moderate irrigation, can reach 20 feet, but usually stays around 6 feet. It can be seen in the White Flower Garden near the gazebo.
Toyon or California holly (Heteromeles arbutifolia), which is also called Christmas berry, can be seen in the Mary Wattis Brown garden. It is a California native with dark-green, leathery leaves and red berries all winter. It needs low water and little or no pruning.
Mahonia berberidaceae 'Golden Abundance'' has dense, heavy, evergreen foliage, grows 5 to 6 feet tall, with glossy green leaves with red midribs and heavy bloom, and needs little water. See examples in the arboretum's Ruth Risdon Storer Garden.
Its close cousin, Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) grows 6 feet or more with erect growth. Its leaves are 4 to 10 inches long. This native flowers March to May with little water and has attractive berries for fall color. You'll find it in the arboretum's T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove.
I have a lemon tree that was planted before we started renting the house. I'm not familiar with the history of this tree, nor its type.
It has two stalks or shoots that grew rapidly last summer. The main tree is still about 4 feet tall, while these stalks are around 10 feet tall.
The stalks have large thorns and very large, shiny leaves. Is this normal for this type of tree, or do those stalks need to be removed?
Duane Hallford, Sacramento
According to UC master gardener Maureen Hefti, the long, thorny, upright branches you describe are most likely sucker growth or water sprouts.
On the lower trunk, the graft forms a distinct ring. Often, the bark above the ring is a lighter color. The graft is where the top part of the lemon tree which produces desirable fruit was attached to the root stock, which is selected for its hardiness and rapid growth.
Undesirable growths originating below the graft are called suckers; those from above the graft are called water sprouts.
Neither suckers nor water sprouts are desirable and should be pruned.
Spring is the ideal time to prune citrus. Ideally, citrus is pruned after all frost danger has passed (typically after March 23 in Sacramento), but before the soil warms and the tree emerges from dormancy.
In the case of your suckers, go ahead and prune them off before they take over the whole tree.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.
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