First of all, the priority with a privacy shrub is privacy, therefore, any plant as part of a privacy shrub should not die in a light frost and leave a gaping hole in your shrub. But, what if we could do better than just privacy? What if that privacy shrub could be dual purposed, or triple purposed?
Secondary reasons to create a privacy shrub would be to create food or security
|Podocarpus ‘Maki’ aka Japanese Yew||Thick foliage, green all year, 20′ High, 6′ Wide, Salt & drought tolerant, cold tolerant to 10F. About 5 years to mature into hedge from 1 gallon potted plant.||Berries yes, seeds no, Podocarpus Pie||None|
|Natal Plum aka Nom-Nom Tree||Thick dark green foliage, 8’+Height, Spend the 1st year as a low sprawling shrub before growing upwards. Cold Tolerant to 20F, 5+ Years to Mature||Nicknamed the Nom-Nom tree for its tasty fruit||Intense Thorns will keep people and animals from crossing shrubs.|
|Wax Myrtle||Thick Light Green all year, 6-12′ in Height & width. Heat and drought tolerant, cold tolerant to 10F. About 4-5 years until mature hedge from seed.||None||Repels Mosquitos!|
|Clumping Bamboo, Emerald||Fast growing! ~3 years until 20′ dense Hedge, Tolerant to 25F, easy to divide and propogate, but expensive to buy individual Plants.||Young shoots are reportably edible and mature shoots for building/staking|| Once thick may be impossible to walk through without cutting|
|Surinam Cherry aka Florida Cherry Tree||Fast growing, 3-4 years until mature, up to 25 ft height. Only tolerant to 32F, but will come back quickly from roots. I use these on the sides or our property towards the rear.||“Cherries” are edible and quite tasty when ripe.||None|
|Areca Palms||Fast Growing to 12′ ~3 years when fertilized regularly. This is a plant that will die at 32(young) and upper 20’s(older) and will come back from the roots||None||None|
|Cocoplum||Fast Growing ~3 years to full grown privacy hedge, round leaves and growth habit which are pleasant to look at. Dies at 32F||Cocoplum fruit which tastes like marshmallows||None|
|Firebush, Florida Native||Grows to 14 ft in about 4 years with water and fertilizer, slow otherwise, drought tolerant, loves Florida weather. Dies at 32F. Not particularly dense||Ripe fruits are edible but not palatable, the chickens like them. Making a Pie or Jam is a possibility||None|
Which one for my Privacy Shrub?
Well, the short answer is don’t pick just one. Choosing and repeating one plant is called monoculture and attracts pests and bacteria. Your privacy shrub will be much healthier, robust, and resistant to disease if you choose two or even three of the above plants to repeat.
This is the most inclusive list I have seen on the web and I hope it helps some people around the globe to make a polyculture privacy shrub! If you have another suggestion please leave a comment below!