Screening plants are fabulous things. Not only do they look great, they provide privacy from neighbours or passers-by, act as wind breaks, are natural air conditioners that cool air as it blows through them and also divide the garden into rooms, adding an air of mystery and the illusion of more space just around the corner.
Screen plant tips
Remember that screening plants need regular maintenance to keep them under control and looking their best. Make time to give them what they need so they can function in the way you want them to and stay healthy.
When choosing your screening plants, consider what you want to achieve and discuss it with staff at your local nursery. For example, if you are screening in a dark area of the garden, go for bright foliage to reflect the light.
You should also decide how high, wide and dense you want your plants to be. Once you know what you need, it will be easier to choose right species.
What's out there
A non-invasive clumping variety is a good option for a garden screen, such as Bambusa multiplex
‘Alphonse Karr’. Its pinkish shoots become green-striped yellow stems. It responds well to pruning and reaches between five and eight metres high.
The lilly pilly has glossy green leaves, flowers in summer and produces maroon edible berries. It grows between three and five metres tall, but can be maintained at a shorter height. Be aware that birds like to eat the berries and their red droppings stain pavements and decks.
This is a fast-growing conifer, excellent as a screening plant or hedge. It has a dense forming habit and can reach more than five metres in 10 years. It can grow to more than 15 metres in total. Not for small gardens, unless you have time to trim it regularly.
Photinia ‘Red Robin’
Photinias make a vibrant hedge or screen. Their new foliage can vary from fiery red to bronze. It’s a medium to fast growing plant that reaches one to three metres in height and up to 1.2 metres wide. If not allowed to grow to its natural width, it can appear twiggy due to its large leaf.
This is a fast-growing shrub with glossy green foliage, dense growth and white fragrant flowers. Great as a small hedge or garden screen, it can grow up to three metres high and 1.2 metres wide, flowers in spring and summer and loves sunny positions.
Other commonly used screening plants
Pittosporum ‘James Stirling’; Sweet viburnum; Buxus ‘Box hedge’; and Weeping lilly pilly