Can You Hedge Citrus Trees: Turning a Fruit Tree into a Citrus Hedge

Citrus trees are not only known for their delicious fruits but also for their versatility in a garden. You might not immediately think of them as candidates for creating a hedge, yet with the right approach, they can form a lush, fruitful barrier that is as practical as it is beautiful. This practice is known as hedging, and when applied to citrus trees, it brings a trifecta of benefits: privacy, aesthetic charm, and a bounty of fresh fruits right at your doorstep.

an abundant citrus tree hedge
  • Privacy
    A citrus hedge can act as a natural privacy screen, shielding your outdoor space from prying eyes. Unlike traditional fences, they are a living, growing fruit boundary that changes with the seasons, providing a dynamic, green border around your garden or property.
  • Aesthetic Appeal
    The glossy green leaves, vibrant fruit, and sweet-scented blossoms add an aesthetic appeal that is unmatched. Whether it’s the sunny yellow of lemon or the vibrant orange of oranges, the color pop is a visual treat. Moreover, the structured appearance of a well-pruned hedge can complement the overall design of your garden, adding both formality and beauty.
  • Fruit Production
    One of the most exciting benefits is, of course, the fruit. Your garden doesn’t just look good, it tastes good too! Whether you fancy a fresh lemonade on a hot summer day or enjoy picking fresh oranges, the fruit e is as fresh as it gets. This not only promotes healthy eating but also provides a satisfying, tangible reward for your gardening efforts.

By incorporating a citrus hedge into your garden, you’re not just getting a visually pleasing boundary, but also a functional, fruit-bearing living fence. The concept of hedging citrus trees marries the practical with the pleasurable, making it a worthy consideration for any garden enthusiast.

Choosing the Right Citrus Varieties for Hedging

When it comes to hedging, not all trees are created equal. The choice of variety plays a pivotal role in ensuring your hedge not only looks good but performs well over the years. Here, we delve into some of the most suitable varieties for hedging and the aesthetic allure they bring to your garden.

Citrus Varieties

  1. Lemon Trees:
    • Lemon trees, particularly the ‘Ponderosa’ and ‘Improved Meyer’, are excellent for hedging due to their dense foliage and manageable height.
    • The bright yellow fruits against the dark green foliage create a picturesque scene.
  2. Lime Trees:
    • Varieties like the ‘Persian Lime’ or ‘Key Lime’ are well-suited for hedging. They are hardy, and their compact growth habit makes them easy to manage.
  3. Others:
    • Other citrus varieties like oranges, mandarins, or calamondin oranges also make for good hedging plants, each bringing a unique color and charm to your outdoor space.

Aesthetic and Sensory Appeal

The aesthetic appeal extends beyond its lush green foliage and vibrant fruits. The blossoms of the trees are a sight to behold, adding a splash of white amidst the green, not to mention their intoxicating fragrance that perfumes the garden air. This sensory delight is further enhanced when the fruits start to ripen, painting a palette of yellows, oranges, and greens against the garden backdrop. 

Choosing the right variety for is the first step towards creating a living boundary that is as pleasing to the senses as it is fruitful. Each variety brings a unique character , allowing you to tailor the look and feel to your personal preferences and the overall design ethos of your garden.

a young child marveling at a butterfly perched on a citrus flowe

Planning and Planting Your Citrus Hedge

Creating a thriving citrus hedge begins with meticulous planning and a well-executed planting process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get it off to a great start, ensuring it receives ample sunlight, and is planted in soil that will foster growth and fruit production.

Optimal Spacing and Direction

  1. Spacing:
    • Space your trees about 1 meter apart to ensure each tree has enough room to grow while still forming a dense hedge.
  2. Direction:
    • Plant in a north-to-south direction. This orientation ensures that the trees receive ample sunlight throughout the day, which is crucial for fruit production.

Soil Preparation

A fruitful citrus hedge starts with well-prepared soil. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Soil Type: Citrus trees thrive in well-draining, loamy soil. If your garden soil is heavy clay or sandy, consider amending it with organic matter to improve its structure and fertility.
  2. pH Level: They prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. You can test the soil pH using a soil testing kit and amend it accordingly with lime or sulfur.
  3. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of each tree to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Watering and Feeding

Regular watering and feeding are crucial for growth and fruit production.

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first year as your trees establish. Once established, they can tolerate some drought, but regular watering will yield better fruit.
  2. Feeding: Feed your trees with a balanced fertilizer specially formulated for citrus or fruit trees. Regular feeding, particularly during the growing season, will ensure vigorous growth and abundant fruiting.

By paying close attention to the planting process and the subsequent care, you set a strong foundation. This living boundary will not only delineate your garden but also provide fresh fruit for years to come. With the right planning and care, your citrus hedge will be a fruitful and attractive feature in your garden.

a close-up view of a citrus hedge leaf

Training and Pruning Citrus Trees

Training and pruning are integral to forming a structured citrus hedge or espalier. These practices not only guide the growth of your citrus trees but also play a pivotal role in fruit production. Here’s how to go about it:

Training Citrus Trees

Training citrus trees starts early from the time they are planted.

  1. Training:
    • Initially, let your trees grow naturally to attain a good height, usually around 3 to 4 feet.
    • Begin to shape them by lightly pruning the sides to encourage a bushy growth. Over time, regular light pruning will form a dense hedge.
  2. Espalier Training:
    • For an espalier, select a strong central leader and attach it to a sturdy support.
    • Train the lateral branches horizontally along wires or a trellis, pruning away any growth that doesn’t conform to the espalier pattern.
a gardener using a wooden stake to support and train a young citrus tree

Pruning Techniques

Pruning is vital for maintaining the desired shape and promoting fruit production.

  1. Formative Pruning:
    • In the early years, prune to encourage branching and to form a good shape.
  2. Maintenance Pruning:
    • Once it is established, regular pruning will keep it in shape and help to rejuvenate the tree for continuous fruiting.

Commercial Pruning Practices

In commercial settings, citrus trees are often hedge pruned to create a uniform shape, which not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also maximizes fruit production by ensuring that sunlight reaches the fruits evenly. The canopy is maintained as a solid mass, facilitating easy harvest and ensuring better fruit ripening. This type of pruning is an efficient way to manage large orchards, ensuring both aesthetic appeal and a bountiful harvest.

Whether in a backyard or a commercial orchard, understanding the techniques of training and pruning is essential. These practices are your toolkit for harnessing the beauty and bounty of citrus trees in a structured and manageable form.

Maintenance and Harvesting

A well-maintained citrus hedge not only stands as an attractive feature in your garden but also promises a rewarding harvest. Ensuring your citrus trees remain healthy and productive involves a few regular maintenance practices and an enjoyable harvesting process.

Keeping Your Citrus Hedge Healthy

  1. Spraying Regimes:
    • Implement a spraying regime to manage pests and diseases. Organic options like neem oil or insecticidal soap are effective against a variety of common citrus pests.
    • Spray preventatively, especially during the growing season, to keep issues like aphids, scale, and fungal infections at bay.
  2. Mulching and Watering:
    • Continue with a regular mulching routine to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
    • Watering should be consistent, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Fertilizing:
    • A balanced fertilizer, especially one formulated for citrus or fruit trees, will provide the necessary nutrients to support growth and fruit production.

Harvesting Your Citrus

The moment of harvest is a gratifying experience, signifying the success of your gardening efforts.

  1. When to Harvest:
    • Citrus fruits are typically ready to harvest when they have reached full color and come off the branch easily with a slight twist.
  2. Enjoying the Fruits:
    • Enjoy your homegrown citrus fresh, or use them in cooking and baking. The possibilities are endless, from fresh lemonade to zesty lime garnishes on your favorite dishes.

The cycle of maintenance and harvesting creates a rewarding gardening rhythm. The more you care for your citrus hedge, the more it gives back in the form of vibrant foliage, beautiful blossoms, and delicious fruits. It’s not just a visual barrier; it’s a living, fruit-bearing entity that rewards your efforts with a bounty of fresh, homegrown citrus.

Incorporating Other Fruit Trees and Shrubs

Diversifying your garden with a mix of fruit trees and shrubs not only enhances its visual appeal but also its productivity. Incorporating other fruit-bearing plants can create a multi-dimensional, fruitful garden space.

Complementing Your Citrus Hedge

  1. Guava Trees:
    • Guava trees can be a great companion. They are relatively easy to care for and provide sweet, tropical fruits.
  2. Berry Bushes:
    • Berry bushes like blueberries or raspberries can be planted in proximity to your citrus. They are compact and can be easily maintained alongside your citrus trees.
  3. Fig Trees:
    • Fig trees are another excellent choice. They have a unique leaf structure and sweet fruits that can add variety to your garden.

Creating a Fruitful Garden

By introducing a mix of fruit trees and shrubs alongside, you create a layered, bountiful garden. This mix not only offers a variety of fresh fruits right from your garden but also creates a visually appealing and diversified green space. The contrast in foliage, fruit types, and flowering seasons will keep your garden lively and colorful throughout the year.

The idea is to create a garden that is as fruitful as it is beautiful. With a citrus hedge as your foundation, incorporating other fruit-bearing plants will make your garden a haven of fresh, organic produce, and a joy to behold and wander through.

a bee pollinating a citrus flower on a hedge


The journey of creating and maintaining a citrus hedge is one filled with delightful rewards. The trifecta of benefits—privacy, aesthetic allure, and a bounty of fresh fruits—makes this gardening endeavor a worthwhile pursuit. The lush green foliage, coupled with vibrant citrus fruits and sweet-scented blossoms, not only enhances the beauty of your garden but also serves a practical purpose.

Through careful selection of citrus varieties, precise planting, regular maintenance, and the joy of harvesting, a citrus hedge becomes more than just a boundary; it transforms into a living, fruit-bearing spectacle. Furthermore, the opportunity to incorporate other fruit trees and shrubs provides a chance to create a diversified, fruitful haven right in your backyard.

We hope this guide inspires you to try hedging with citrus trees in your garden. The beauty and bounty awaiting you are well worth the effort, promising a unique and rewarding gardening experience. Your garden is a canvas, and a citrus hedge is a colorful, fruitful stroke waiting to grace it.

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