Homeowners are constantly looking for that perfect plant for that exact spot. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. Landscape designers know there are so many factors that go into placing the right plant in the right place. Sun-loving plants should be planted in sunny spaces. Shade-loving plants should be placed under trees or next to walls where they’ll be protected from our intense New Mexico sun. Be sure the area is big enough to accommodate the plant when it reaches its full mature size, and remember to place plants with similar water needs together.
One of the most frequent requests is for a year-round green plant that hides and blocks an ugly view. For a narrow space (4’ and smaller) next to a wall or a neighbor’s driveway, check out the Skyrocket juniper. It’s a blue-green, narrow columnar tree growing 15 feet tall and only four feet wide, making it the narrowest of the juniper trees. A hedge of these works great in a small narrow space where you need some height. If your space is a little wider and you want some variety, you could add Texas ranger (also known as Texas sage) and ornamental grasses.
For those two-feet-wide spaces where you don’t have the room for a wide plant but you need lots of height, you’ll want to choose vines. For sun and light shade areas choose Lady Banks roses or desert coral honeysuckle. You’ll want to keep them in check by training them up a trellis until you get the desired coverage in the very narrow space.
When you have a 5’- 6’ wide area — like along a driveway or between property lines — try planting curl-leaf mountain mahogany, evergreen, narrow. In our area you’ll see it used along a driveway to create privacy between neighbors. You can vary the space by interplanting it with New Mexico olive, which has a similar shape and size, or ornamental grasses like giant sacaton and muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass), if you want more visual contrast. To add some blue-green to the mix, bring in an Artemisia species like prairie sage as ground cover.
Another tried and true combination is the Arizona rosewood and prickly pear. They are beautiful together, plus they require little to no water after established.
Learn more about plant selection here:
The Balancing act of watering trees in the Fall and Winter
Join the Countdown to Spring event