Do you have a property line with nothing growing on the border or an annoying view of a road or apartment building? Plant for the future by installing an edible hedge.
Originally from Brazil, pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) brings together two valuable qualities: It’s tropical and also quite drought tolerant. This versatility allows it to thrive in the type of Mediterranean garden I like to create in my design business, where it often has to work next to a lawn. This plant’s bark is stunning, and its flowers are not only gorgeous, but also edible! Its fruit offers that type of luscious sweet-and-sour combination that grows on you each time you eat it. Even without these tasty fruits, pineapple guava is a great ornamental foundation plant just for its aesthetics. Growing as a multi-branch shrub up to 12–15 feet tall, it’s a great candidate for a hedge that gives privacy as well as good food without shading out the whole garden.
As I described in a previous Gardener’s Notebook, pomegranate (Punica granatum) is another great candidate for an urban edible hedge. I prefer the Parfianka variety. A tough plant, pomegranate grows 12–15 feet tall, can make a strong round or columnar hedge, and gives an abundance of fruit without much compost, pruning, or water.
Add an Understory
Want to mix up your hedge? Try these native plants around the base of your fruit trees:
Currant (Ribes spp.)
Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana)
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
Joshua Burman Thayer is a San Francisco Bay Area ecological and permaculture landscape designer and consultant specializing in dry-land landscape design. He can be reached at 510.332.2809, nativesungardens.com