In an effort to make something that is quite ugly (a driveway, sideyard, air conditioner combo), we've decided to create a screening hedge. I put the question out to the blogosphere as to whether or not I should use cherry laurel, and have decided based on that and some further research not to use them. I actually like them, but they aren't right for this space.
Egads, that's ugly isn't it?! I hate driveways. And cars. Oh, a world without either would be so grand.
I also realized that half of the long narrow area is in full sun, perfect for one of my favorite, if not totally overused, plants: cenizo or Texas sage.
I found some pretty cheap ones down at Ted's Trees that are about 2 feet tall. This variety is called 'Green Cloud,' which apparently can take more water than the other cenizos (native to the Chihuahuan desert). They should grow to be 4 to 6 feet tall, and will be covered in pink-purple blooms off and on throughout the warm months.
I'm super psyched to have found a place in my yard for these...now here's hoping that can beat the wet clay at its own game. Once these fill in with leaves this Spring, they will totally be worth the effort. Air conditioner be gone!