hedges & screening
How to set up garden hedges and sc reens...
& s e g d e h ening scre Hedging and screening plants are a great way to create privacy, screen out unsightly areas or form a tranquil space in the garden. And with the right plant selection, preparation and care they can also form attractive garden features.
LOW HEDGES A low-growing hedge is ideal for edging garden beds and defining and dividing spaces. Slow growing evergreen plants like Box (Buxus species) are a good choice for low formal hedges because they tolerate frequent clipping and are easily shaped into perfect geometric forms. Compact camellia varieties also make good evergreen hedges and can be left to grow more informally if you want a good show of flowers. Or you might like to try Dwarf Ixoras, which boast glossy green foliage and a gorgeous display of flowers in all of the sunset colours.
Physical screens Cypress Leighton Green
You could also create an attractive garden screen using decorative screen panels, lattice, bamboo, plastic or timber screens and soften the look with wall art, climbers or ornamental shrubs.
Lilly Pillies, Photinias, Portuguese Laurels (Prunus lusitanica), Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) and Pittosporums are traditional choices for an evergreen hedge or you might like to try the attractive native Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus), Bottlebrushes (Callistemon), Tea-trees (Leptospermum), Paperbarks (Melaleuca) or Hakeas. Deciduous plants like Beech or Hawthorn can also form an attractive hedge. You won’t get the same level of privacy, but deciduous plants allow light through in winter and provide summer shade. Many also come with the bonus of autumn foliage colour and pretty flowers.
Garden Think about whether you want a formal tight-knit hedge that requires regular pruning or something less formal that still allows the natural beauty of the plant to shine through.
EVERGREEN SCREENS Why not create a wall of green with screening trees that can be left to grow more naturally? Try compact evergreen Magnolias with glossy green foliage and pretty white flowers, beautiful weeping Agonis flexuosa varieties, flowering Camellias, the Forest She-oak (Allocasuarina torulosa) or the more formal Juniperus ‘Spartan’ which stands tall and proud. If you’ve got plenty of space you’ll love the weeping Lilly Pilly (Waterhousia floribunda) with lush, cascading branches.
Pittosporum Silver Sheen
Screen Most screening trees won’t provide foliage cover all the way to the ground, so try underplanting with smaller shrubs to create a solid green screen.
NARROW AREAS In narrow areas where you want height for privacy, but width is restricted look for beautiful narrow growing trees like Pyrus calleryana ‘Captial’ which has a compact columnar form, lustrous, dark green leaves, autumn foliage colour and pretty spring blossoms. If you’re after an edible screen, Ballerina Apples are another top choice. They grow to approximately 3.5 metres tall but only 60 cm wide and produce a scrumptious crop of fruit. Fargesia Fortune Bamboo
Living Screens Purple Coral Pea
CLIMBERS Raise the height of fences and decorate them with attractive climbing plants.
You could also dress up a wall and make a living screen by creating a lush vertical garden. Create a gourmet vertical garden with bushy herbs or a wall of colour with cascading plants.
Deciduous climbers like Wisteria or the Ornamental Grape (Vitis vinifera) provide shade in the summer months and allow light through in winter. Evergreen climbers like the Golden Trumpet Vine (Allamanda cathartica) or the White Potato Creeper (Solanum jasminoides) provide year round cover, so they are perfect for creating privacy or screening out unsightly buildings and garden structures. Consider the climber’s flowering season too. Summer flowering Clematis or climbing roses are ideal for providing splashes of vertical colour around outdoor entertaining areas – in bloom at the height of the party season. Or if your garden needs a colour lift through the cooler months you might like to decorate fences and arbors with the Purple Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea) which flowers through the heart of winter and into spring, or the vibrant Orange Trumpet Creeper (Pyrostegia venusta), which is smothered in clusters of tubular fiery orange flowers.
PREPARATION AND CARE A hedge or screen with a hole in it, caused by a dying plant, can look unsightly so be sure to prepare the whole length of the area before planting. Improve the soil with doses of compost and organic matter and dig clay breaker through if necessary to help improve drainage. Good watering and feeding are also important to achieve a beautiful, uniform look. Mix water storing crystals through the soil before planting and water plants in with a seaweed based planting tonic to encourage strong, healthy root growth. Feed plants regularly throughout the growing season and mulch with a good organic layer of straw or bark.
SPACING If you want to create a tight knit hedge that is pruned regularly then space plants closer together than normal. You’ll need to have an idea of the natural width of the plants, so you can space them accordingly, but as a general guide if you want a hedge 3 metres tall, space plants 1 metre apart and if you want a hedge 1 metre tall space plants roughly 30 cm apart. Informal hedges and screens can be spaced further apart.
PRUNING It is best to prune little and often and start clipping plants when they are young to encourage compact, bushy growth. To achieve good even cover try trimming your hedge on a slight angle so that the bottom of the hedge is fatter than the top. It only needs to be subtle, but pruning this way will ensure that the top of the hedge doesn’t shade out the bottom and create sparse patches of foliage. Use a sharp pair of hedge trimmers or electric clippers for a nice neat finish. Informal hedges can be clipped less often to allow the natural shape of the plants to shine through. Always prune flowering hedges after they have finished blooming, so that you don’t sacrifice your flowering display.
Garden To create a good-looking hedge or screen, start by choosing plants that enjoy the conditions your garden has to offer.
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