I am in the suburbs, so I want a neat looking hedge. (Can't have a messy row of unpruned shrubs, or my favorite, a laid hedge.)
So, what plants will actually be useful while being trimmed at least once or twice a year? By useful, I include insect attracting, fodder producing, and nitrogen fixing as well as food producing, though food producing would be best.
You can grow a "fedge" (fruit + hedge) although sometimes these are not as "neat" as some suburbs demand. You can learn about "urban orcharding" at the Dave Wilson site as well as look for varieties that perform well in your climate. Fruit trees will be deciduous. http://www.davewilson.com/home-gardens
As for function - many species are good for insect forage (anything with flowers, for example, may attract insects/birds/bats), dense plantings are good for habitat, and many dryland plant natives are nitrogen fixers.
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
For food production, I like tall cane berries, apples, high bush cranberries and blueberries. If you're not into producing food in a hedge, you could go for one that produces fuel. Around here, laurel produces hardwood sticks that are ideal rocket fuel. You might be able to grow Osage orange. Not sure what neat looks like to you. I think they look neat.
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