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We live in Boise ID and just built a brand new house. We live in a bit of a hilly part of town so we reclaimed some of the land for my kids to play in by digging back a hill and installing a large boulder wall. The wall is 4-5 high with double stacked granite boulders. The boulders weigh between 500 and 900 lbs each. The whole wall is 110 feet in length. Crushed stone drainage in between the boulders and soil.

  • We have neighbors behind the fence.
  • We have added irrigation to the space behind the wall.
  • There is 3-4 feet of plantable soil behind the boulders to the fence.

What type of trees would work well here? I like hornbeams but I’ve also seen some cool columnar trees like ginkgo that I like. I would also consider evergreens to really give the boulders a mountain look.

We are looking to get some privacy but it’s not the main priority. I don’t love arborvitaes.

Any suggestions? We have heavy clay soils.

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  • 5
    That’s.... really not much space for trees.
    – Stephie
    Dec 20, 2020 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


I had a fence like yours put in so I will pass on that this is not a fence that you want to get scratched or rubbed from tree branches.

From the pictures it looks more like a two foot wide growing area so I suggest that there is not enough room for any kind of mature tree to grow over a ten year period without compromising the structural integrity of the wall. You might think that large rocks cannot be pushed out of place by roots but given time they will as this article shows.

I suggest that a mix of taller shrubs will do the job without as much risk.

As to what to plant the best guide is what is growing successfully in your area. Due to my location in USDA zone 4 I can only dream of planting Cercis canadensis (Redbud) or Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda dogwood) which are technically hardy in your zone. However hardiness ratings can be overruled by local climate. Japanese maples are technically hardy where I live but you don't see any as the freeze thaw cycles is lethal to them.

Go to the local nursery, ask your neighbours or local extension office and their recommendations will be much more useful.

  • 1
    Also , just drive around the area and see what grows well and has characteristics you want. Dec 22, 2020 at 0:40

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