Which Plant is Best For Hedging?

Narrow Down your choices

Hedges are used in the garden mainly to form a backdrop, hide a fence or be the fence, and are a great way to add borders. So which plant to use and how many will you need you ask?  Well, it depends on how you want your hedge to behave.  Are you looking for a tidy hedge that is tightly knit, for a formal garden, with not a leaf out of place? or are you wanting to create a large wall for screening purposes? Do you want flowers? fragrance? There’s a heap of plants that you could use. Let us narrow down your choices. Here’s what we grow in the nursery.

Hedges to up to 1m

Formal and neat

  • Japanese Box –   Classic Hedging Plant – Lovely light green, oval shaped foliage. Ties in with many landscape styles. Slower growing means you can keep this hedge under your control. The lime green colour looks great and contrasts beautifully with darker green foliage.
  • African Box – Classic Hedging Plant – Quick to grow with small, tight knit foliage. Perfect to use for topiary shapes – you can clip into a swan or an elephant or whatever your creative self wishes.
  • English Box– Classic Hedging Plant -Very robust, deep emerald green colour. Tolerates many soil types. Likes full sun and can grow in the shade. Good to use if you want a hedge that is both in the sun and shade.
  • Port Wine Magnolia – this shrub can grow 2-3m tall, but can be kept at around 1m quite nicely as it’s not the fastest of growers. Regular pruning encourages a dense habit and more flowers. The flowers produce the most divine scent, especially after a warm day. They flower mid stem not on terminals so you can cut and trim away without removing the beautifully fragrant bud like flowers
  • Acmena Allyn Magic– A super small hedging plant that only grows 0.5m x 0.5m. It’s a Lily Pilly, so reddens up in Winter, and flowers in Summer with small cream flowers, followed by pink berries. (non poisonous) Great for a low, low border. Or plant against your other hedge for a tiered effect. These look great planted against African Box, or English Box or Japanese Box as the latter are a constant wall of green, where the Allyn Magics change colour with more noticeable flowers and berries.
  • Syzygium Tiny Trev – Classic neat and tidy hedging plant with deep green foliage. Grows 075m/1m.
  • Murraya Hip High – Murraya paniculata dwarf form. Same as standard Murraya, but only grows to 1m x 1m. Perfect for small hedges or borders with a gorgeous citrus blossom scent

You’ll want to keep the flowers on these, so no need to clip so often

  • Gardenia Florida – grows to 1mx1m. Looks great planted in front of a larger, clipped hedge. Rarely needs pruning. Sweet smelling flowers bloom from spring to late autumn and even into winter
  • Gardenia Grandiflora Star –  No pruning needed, this little shrub only grows to 50cm x50cm. Lovely fragrant flowers from spring to late autumn.

Or use climbers as a hedge – a bit more clipping to keep it in shape, but you’ll get a low hedge quite quickly. 

  • Chinese Star Jasmine – let this grow rambling on the ground and then clip it into shape to create boundaries. This looks fantastic planted under pleached trees, neatly trimmed into shape. Or plant it in front of a higher hedge. Fragrant white star shaped flowers in spring and autumn.
  • Hibbertia scandens – native to the Southwest, this will normally climb, but can be clipped into a low growing hedge for borders.

Not So Formal

  • Agonis flexuosa nana– this has been around forever with good reason. Loved by landscapers all around the southwest and Perth, this plant is tough and looks good. Used as a backdrop for many styles of gardens.  Can grow around 1m – 1.2m
  • Nandina Dwarf  – lovely leafy little shrub. Keeps its shape nicely without any need for pruning. Wonderful colour in the foliage year round with lots of variation in colour. Greens, oranges, yellows and reds. Reddens up more in Winter time
  • Nandina Gulf Stream – Another form of Nandina.This one only grows 0.75m and keeps it shape . The foliage is different shape – to the regular Nandina. Both are great choices. Rarely any problems with either of these

Larger Screen style hedges 1.5m+

Formal and Neat

  • Syzygium Bush Christmas ( Lilly Pilly) Grows 4m+ and can be used to create a larger formal hedge. Quick growing with dense foliage. Little birdies love to hide and nest in the foliage. Red new growth precedes little purple fruits (edible) in Winter time, followed by sweet summer flowers. Read below on how to choose a Lilly Pilly
  • Viburnum Tinus– Classic shrub. You can’t go wrong with this. Bright white flowers in winter time. Classic hedging plant that is tough as old boots. Been around forever. Is a deeper green colour. Winter Flowers. Pick this one if you want your hedge to grow in the shade as well as the sun.
  • Viburnum Emerald Lustre  – If you’re wanting a super fast, super glossy, large leafy shrub, then this is the plant for you. This one is the fastest growing plant in the nursery (after Grevilleas, ok and maybe Photinias) and makes such a beautiful screen or hedge. Grows 3/4m x 3m with a cluster of fragrance flowers in Spring. Great for a corner fence to block off the street , down the side of a house in a narrower spot, or just down a fence line.
  • Viburnum Emerald Jewel –  Quick growing and quite vigorous,  tolerant of many soil conditions. They like full sun with some shade.  Emerald Jewel has smaller, greener foliage. Emerald Jewel has a cluster of fragrant flowers in Spring time. These are a good choice for those narrower sections down a fence line.
  • Murraya paniculata can grow to around 3m. Highly fragrant blossoms in the warmer months smell like citrus blossom. Attracts bees and butterflies. Nice looking shrub with lighter green foliage that’s been around for a long time. Makes a really lovely garden background.
  • Port Wine Magnolia – including this in with the larger shrubs as it can grow 2-3m. It’s a bit slower than the viburnums. The fragrant little bud-like flowers are to die for. But it really is a handsome shrub and makes a beautiful hedge as it responds really well to tip pruning and regular clipping.
  • Photinia Red Robin – a fast growing plant – 3/4m x 2m. Brilliant Red new growth and looks amazing as a formally clipped hedge.
  • Westringea – Tried and True, this Aussie native plant will grow just about anywhere. See it used in coastal plantings and you’ll see why it’s chosen. Small, dense foliage with tiny flowers, there’s a few varieties available. Try Lilac and Lace for a shrub that grows around 1.5m x 1.5m – or Wynyabbie Gem, also growing to 1.5m

Not so formal

 Casual and carefree, but does the job of a quick growing hedge or screen 

  • Photinia robusta – Quick growing. Red foliage. Big white flowers late winter through to spring. Can grow to around 5m
  • Photinia Red Robin Another quick growing Photinia with brilliant red growth. Grows to 3m
  • Hibiscus – Try Hibiscus cottonwood – you’ll probably see this grown everywhere. Especially in recent developed suburbs. Has pleasing colours, interesting heart shaped foliage, with yellow flowers throughout the year. And it grows very quickly. Can be grown on the coast and tolerates salty winds and still looks good. Good for a quick growing screen. There’s also Hawaiian Hibiscus varieties – Considered by some to be an old fashioned sort of plant. But if you’ve got an area that needs to be screened now, these can do the job in no time. Best grown in full sun, but will grow nicely in shady spots too, these are really tough plants that can look spectacular if given the right treatment. Feed them up in the warmer months and watch them bloom year round.
  • Callistemon Kings Park Special – this one’s great if you want a native screening plant. It’s quick growing, not fussy on soil type. Can tolerate boggy areas, but also will grow in sandy soil. Attracts birds and bees and is quite quick to grow. Waterwise once established.
  • Grevillea Robyn Gordon – and associated cultivars like Grevillea Superb , Grevillea Ned Kelly  , Grevillea loopy lou, Grevillea Coconut Ice are  quick growing and non fussy if left to grow and do their own thing. They’ll reward you with flowers most of the year and you’ll have birds and bees visiting your place in no time. They’ll respond to pruning once a year, which will make your hedge more attractive. Fertilise using native fertiliser
  • Hibiscus Cotton Wood  Very fast growing shrub that is used a lot by landscapers and home gardeners due to its robust , hardy growing habit. This plant can survive just about anywhere.

 How many plants will you need?

What kind of hedge do you want? For a formal, clipped hedge with no gaps at the bottom, space close together.  We generally go by the rule of planting 1 third spacing depending on the height you want to achieve.

Example – you want a hedge to grow to 1m, then space your plants around 30cm apart. You’re hedge will knit together quicker than plants spaced out further.

It does depend on the shrub you choose and which size plant you initially choose and of course, your budget.  So if you want a hedge that runs 10m at a height of 1metre, you’ll want about 30 plants.

It’s not uncommon to get a phone call asking for replacement plants. You may want to consider getting a few extra to plant in other areas or in pots if you need to replace a for a hedge, where the customer has lost one or two.

So you like the look of Syzygiums  (Lilly Pillies)  How to choose a Lilly Pilly plant

A word of advice

It’s quite common for us to get a panicked phone call asking for replacement Syzygiums of a certain variety. There’s a tonne of varieties out there with bright shiny labels promising to be redder, or bushier, or have a quicker growth habit, or are psyllid resistant.  Sounds great. These are great plants. Customer buys their hedge. And after a year, customer notices they need to replace one or two. Or they want to extend their hedge. So they start ringing around, starting with the first place of purchase. No luck. That variety isn’t available, there’s a new variety in stock though…gah! Why isn’t the plant available any more?

You see, plants, just like other shiny, products need to be redeveloped, repackaged and marketed to keep consumers interested. This results in newer, plant varieties along with shiny labels presented mainly at big box stores. Growers grow them for a season, and move on to the next ‘better’ plant next year. Result? That Lilly Pilly plant is not available any more.

This is one reason why we stick to one type of Lilly Pilly – Syzygium Bush Christmas. Why? It’s a great plant. It’s handsome, reddens up beautifully in Winter, and also grows quickly.  Because it’s been around for a long time, it’s easy to get anywhere. We grow it every year. If we don’t have it, someone else most likely will. No need to worry.

Here’s another thing to consider when choosing your hedging plant

If you’re looking at variegated plants or  interesting foliage plants that ‘twist’ have an interesting leaf as they grow, you may want to reconsider if you’re wanting to achieve a uniform look. It all depends on how fussy you want to be though. You see, plants, through selective breeding can be developed to have a certain appearance and your variegated plants can revert back to being green. Not all, but maybe one in your hedge, or part of the plant. Or from that interesting twisted foliage to a normal leaf growth pattern.

It may not worry you, if you’re happy to let plants do their thing but just bear in mind that what you’re buying today, may change further down the track.

Now You’ve chosen. How to Plant Your Hedge.

Not going to bore you too much with how to plant, (too late??) here’s a few key points

  • Dig a trench and fill with soil amendments – clay, rockdust and compost . You’ll want nice nutrient rich soil for all those shrubs, planted close together competing for nutrients. Your hedge will grow quicker and look green and lush.
  • Don’t trust your eyes. Use a string line to get plants in a straight line.
  • It’s painful to do, but clip plants immediately after planting to promote bushy lateral growth.
  • Clip in an slight A-line pattern so plants get more light and therefore more uniform growth.
  • Use a string line to cut height once established.





This post is an update of a post that was originally published June 17 2016.








New Garden? Try These Plant Combinations

Green Japanese Maple Foliage

Try this Plant Combination.

Here’s a recipe for a beautifully fragrant garden.

Many of you come in to see us and you’re starting from scratch. You’ve got a brand new open space with nothing in it  You would think that would be easy right? But sometimes it’s often harder to choose which plants go together when there’s a new space to fill.

Following on from the first article here on plant suggestions. Here’s another plant grouping  idea – These plants are classic and won’t date. They all work together beautifully and bonus! – If you like fragrant gardens, you’ll love this one. The flower colours in this plant group are all white with a splash of red.


Magnolia Little Gem –  Plant these and they’ll grow into small trees that will delight you with their intermittent, year round, large white flowers. You could Plant these down a fence line, or make a screening hedge. Little Gem’s rarely give you any trouble and are very easy to grow.

magnolia LIttle Gem Rock Dust







Gardenia – beautifully fragrant white flowers from late Sring all the way to late Autumn. This one grows a about 1m x 1m. Plant in full sun or part shade. Great to underplant as a low growing hedge underneath the Magnolia Little Gems

Gardenia Florida







Chinese Star Jasmine – star shaped white flowers in late Spring and smaller flushes again in Summer and Autumn.  Use as a climber, or let ramble as a groundcover. Looks gread clipped into shape or hedged. This plant is well bahaved and easy to manage. Star Jasmine is quite a tough plant too, can cope well climbing up steel structures and handle the hot afternoon sun all while looking stunning.

Chinese star jasmine








Mini Agapanthus – Double Diamond

Agapanthus have been around forever. And there’s a good reason why. They’re tough as old boots and look really nice in the garden, especially in Summer time when they put on a lovely flower show. This one is a miniature agapanthus. Double diamond has ruffle like flowers and they only grow to 50cm. Foliage is small too. Great for a border, or ground cover.

Agapanthus double diamond







Prunus Nigra

Now add Prunus Nigra – (ornamental flowering plum) for a splash of deep plummy, burgundy colours. Work in odd numbers. If you’ve room for more, add 3!

Prunus nigra Flowering Plum in the Garden






OR add…

Japanese Maple

for a beautiful, graceful small tree. This one is the green Japanese Maple. It handles our weather beautifully, and is such a beauty in the garden. This one has foliage that emerges at green with hints of red in Spring time. Turns reddish in Autumn. Adds that extra bit of charm.

Green Japanese Maple Foliage


Evergreen Trees for Smaller Urban Gardens

Hymenosporum flavum Native Frangipani folige

So you’re searching for trees for that will provide shade and green up your small plot of land – you want evergreen foliage all year round, and a tree that keeps the same form and shape every year and season,  not deciduous – you’re not interested in cleaning up the leaf mess in Autumn and you simply don’t want to look at a bare tree without leaves – and you want a small tree cause you don’t want roots breaking up your brand new paving area or getting into the pipes.

Here’s a couple of things to consider –  did you know that Evergreens tend to shed and replace foliage throughout the year as opposed to deciduous trees that shed only once a year?  Evergreens tend to lose their leaves gradually, you don’t notice this happening, which leads to a common, general perception, that deciduous are messier than evergreens .

Also, Consider where you’re going to plant your tree. Trees are so important in a landscape, especially new housing subdivisions, where trees are quite non existent.  They provide your landscape infrastructure, or the ‘bones’ of the garden. They make little micro-climates where you can plant other shrubs in a sheltered spot, making a home for many insects, frogs, birds and lizards.  They cool your home, filter pollutants, provide oxygen, and create a great atmosphere.  Deciduous trees can be useful planted in the right spot – cooling your home from the hot summer sun and in winter, when dormant, can let the sunlight in, providing natural warmth.

When planning your garden, try larger shrubs and form them into a tree shape suitable for a small yard. There’s a couple featured below – like Callistemon, and Hibiscus Cottonwood and don’t forget to look at the ultimate Multi-tasking trees – like citrus and olives – These have shallow roots and are highly ornamental and deliciously productive!

This post is about Evergreen Trees. Why not have a look at Deciduous Trees for Smaller Urban Gardens.

Agonis flexuosa Peppermint tree

Agonis flexuosa Peppermint TreeA med sized tree growing to around 3-5m  – featuring pendulous, aromatic foliage, with pinkish coloured new growth.  Agonis flexuosa makes a lovely backdrop tree helping to soften the rest of the garden with it’s weeping habit.  Flowers occur in springtime and are a brilliant white.

Agonis Burgundy is  waterwise once established, however it will grow quicker with regular watering and improved soil.  Suitable uses would be for  screening or a wind break. Agonis are perfect for coastal gardens.

Ornamental Pears

These ever so lovely trees are a great option. Fast growing, with green glossy leaves that emerge after a show of beautiful Spring blossoms, followed by Red Autumn colours, there’s an ornamental pear to suit many situations. From upright column shaped trees, like the Capital Pear, to traditional Pyramid shaped trees like the Manchurian.

Fraxinus griffithi Evergreen Ash

evergreen-ash-foliageEvergreen Ash is a delightful shady, small tree, perfect for smaller gardens in amongst other trees or singly as a feature tree.

Plant in free draining, conditioned, moist, soil in full sun and you’ll be rewarded with a quick growing, shady, evergreen tree with handsome, glossy leaves. Can get to approx 6m.


Hymenosporum flavum – Native Frangipani

hymenosporum-flavum-flowersNative Frangipani are a great choice if you’re looking for an evergreen tree with sweet scented spring blossoms that vary from cream to yellow. They’re from the rainforest areas of Queensland and New South Wales, where they can grow to around 20m, but down this far South in WA, will grow into a small, upright tree not much more than 9 or 10 metres.  Not related at all to the the other Frangipanis that we are all familiar with  (Plumeria sp).

These trees prefer full sun, or part shade, with protection from strong winds.

Hibiscus tiliaceous – Cottonwood

red cottonwood hibiscusHibiscus tiliaceus rubra is a hugely popular, fast growing shrub with dense foliage from tropical Queensland and can get to approx 4-6m if left unpruned.  Does quite well this far South and can tolerate coastal and windy conditions. Gorgeous, red and green heart shaped leaves make this shrub very ornamental with attractive yellow flowers.

Use this to screen your neighbours or hide a fence.

Callistemon Kings Park Special

bottle brushCallistemon Kings Park Special are fast growing bottlebrushes and can quickly get to 5m and they attracts lots of birds and pollinating insects in spring when laden with flowers. (and also in autumn when flowers can bloom again) This is a good choice for a quick growing screen.

Callistemons are quite tolerant of many soil types and can be grown in sandy and clay type soils. Ideally, your soil would be conditioned with lots of compost to ensure lots of new growth.

Eucalyptus caesia – Silver Princess

eucalyptus-silverprincessSpectacular small tree, growing around 5-6m tall. With the sweetest bright,red flowers straight out of a May Gibbs- ‘Gumnut Babies’ book. It has a weeping habit with silvery branches, making it lovely as a feature tree.

Likes to grow in sandy, well drained soil in the sun or shady spots. Responds quite well to pruning to maintain a nice shape. Stake while young to get nice straight growth.

Magnolia Grandiflora – Little Gem

magnolia-little-gemDwarf form of Magnolia grandiflora. You get the same gorgeous glossy green foliage, with a rust coloured underleaf and chunky white flowers that seem to bloom all year round!  Will grow to 4 -5 metres approximately.

Little Gems are quite robust plants, handling drought and high wind areas – although will grow a lot better with regular water and conditioned soil. Plant in a sunny spot for best performance. These are great plants for an  hedge or a screen.

Syzygium Bush Christmas

australian bush christmasHighly ornamental evergreen, shrub providing interest all year round with glossy green leaves, red new growth, summer flowers and autumn berries (which are edible). If left un-pruned, Bush Xmas will grow to around 4m. We love this for topiary and hedging. It has a reasonable growth rate, so is a good choice for a screen or a hedge. The compact foliage attracts many small birds, who use it to nest.


Olea Europaea – Olive

olive-trees Olives are quite suited to our climate and they can grow in those tricky spots where others have struggled.  They’re a long lived tree and also make good potted specimens.  Their root systems are quite shallow, so they’ll need a free draining soil – they don’t like being waterlogged.   Olives are quite drought tolerant, however for good fruit production give them sufficient water. Olives ripen up in late Autumn. They all start off dark green, turning to a light green colour before turning black. Harvesting is done at either stage, light green or black before pickling  or making oil.


orange-tree Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Kumquat, Orange, Grapefruit are great plants for a small garden. Glossy green foliage, amazing citrus blossoms, and the fruit is an incredible bonus!!  Every yard should have at least one citrus tree.  A lot of citrus grow really well in pots, especially kumquats and mandarins which are smaller citrus trees.





This is a snapshot of what we have growing out in the nursery. If you’re chasing something not listed here, contact us

Read on for Deciduous Trees for Smaller Urban Gardens.

Can’t decide? Come in for a look!