Citrus trees are a great addition to the garden. They have evergreen leaves and provide a nice backdrop for flowers or can provide privacy and block views. They have fragrant flowers in the spring and colorful fruit in the winter. They provide food. And they can be planted in small yards and even containers.
Garden Design Tips for Citrus Trees
You can choose a dwarf citrus tree that grows to 10 feet or a full-sized variety that can grow up to 20 feet. A smaller tree will provide privacy from ground-level views, replace the view of a plain brown fence, and act as a green backdrop for nearby flowers. A larger tree will do the same and also provide more privacy from higher-level views (such as the neighbor’s second-story windows) and add shade to your garden. The smaller varieties also look nice as accent plants in containers.
Choose a location that receives full sun, ideally at the highest point in your garden, and with other plants that do not require too much water. Citrus trees need 6 or more hours of sunshine a day. Most varieties don’t do well with frost (mandarins and kumquats do better with cold temperatures while limes do not). Because cold air is dense and moves downward with gravity, you want to keep your citrus trees away from the lowest points in your garden. For young trees, you’ll want to keep the soil moist, but not wet. With established trees, you’ll want to let the soil dry out in between watering. Note that citrus trees planted in containers need more water than trees planted in the ground.
Some good companion flowers for citrus trees include: cosmos, nasturtium, yarrow, and lavender. For more information about companion planting, check out the Functional Gardens Compantion Planting article. Ideally, you want to plant flowers two feet away from the tree trunk. I planted Gazania around most of our citrus trees–because Gazania is one of my favorite plants and is just about everywhere in my garden. Then I planted carpet roses that receive full sun alongside the citrus trees and then azaleas alongside the trees that provide afternoon shade from their canopy.
Citrus trees can be pruned to shape but don’t require much more pruning. Prune them in the late spring or early summer if you’d like (avoid pruning the tree when new growth has the potential to be damaged by frost). In the greater Sacramento area, April through June is usually a good time to prune citrus trees.
You’ll enjoy a show of white fragrant flowers in the spring and bright colored fruit in the winter.
Here’s a garden idea that serves two purposes: adding a cheery glow in the winter months and protecting your citrus trees from frost damage. Place a string of Christmas lights (with the old fashioned bulbs that get warm) around the canopy of your citrus trees during the winter and keep them on all night and during frosty days.