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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Screening Plants for Privacy

red Cottonwood Hibiscus - good screening plant
Help! We need some very quick growing trees to plant around our fenceline for privacy -  We've just moved into our new home and everything is bare – our neighbours are constantly watching us from over the fence?  What do you suggest??

This is one of our most common requests – You are looking for the best screening plants for privacy from your neighbours. Something fast growing, but low maintenance plant (who doesn’t?) to hide an ugly fence, or soften hard-scaping such as a fence or retaining wall,  for privacy from your nosy neighbours and even the rest of the street .

A good solution is to plant small trees or large shrubs or a combination of both. A row or hedge of the one plant or tree is nice and simple and creates a uniform look.  You could also plant different  shrubs and trees that overlap for a windbreak or sound barrier which also encourages biodiversity for local wildlife, including beneficial insects and native birds.

Your garden beds need to be as wide as you can make them for trees and shrubs to be happy and healthy. If you don’t have the space – climbing plants can be the better option. Try a few well mannered climbers like Chinese Star Jasmine or Dipladenia –  (plant both of these together, they look stunning!)  and you’ll achieve a quick (and great looking) screen as they clamber upward toward the light. Both are tough enough to climb up steel patio/pergola structures in the hot summer sun.

Fast Growing Shrubs

A word on fast growing  – it’s often the case that fast growing means more maintenance – the quicker it grows, the more it’ll need a haircut.  Fast growing also often means a larger tree, which may not be suitable for those with smaller blocks.  Something to keep in mind when selecting your screening plant – perhaps, depending on budget of course, you could plant, a more advanced, slower growing variety.

Here’s a list of shrubs and trees that we have growing in the nursery that we consider good screening plants for privacy.  Use these as a hedge row, or plant them mix and match to encourage biodiversity. These work around the Southwest area, if you’re in Bunbury, and Perth.  We often have these available in a small, medium and large size pots to suit your requirements.

Best Screening Plants For Privacy

FASTEST GROWING

Grevillea Olivacea – Olive Leaf Grevillea  – This would have to be one of the quickest growing plants in the nursery. Makes a gorgeous, dense screen, that can be clipped to shape

Viburnum Emerald Jewel – This Viburnum is a large shrub, growing up to around 3m with large, leathery leaves. Creates a dense hedge or screen.

Viburnum Emerald Lustre Big glossy foliage – fast growing and can grow 3-4m. Good for those narrower areas, or along a fence line. Likes full sun and can tolerate a wide variety of conditions. 

 

Hibiscus tiliaceous cottonwood – (pictured above) best selling plant, selected for its beautiful burgundy and green, heart shaped foliage with bright yellow flowers year round. It’s quite a vigorous plant, quick growing, providing a good size screen. Tolerates windy, and coastal conditions quite well.

Olives – are quite fast growing and make a good screen, with the bonus of fruit.  you could leave them  to bush out or plant them in a row, training them with a small trunk – called pleaching, or a hedge on legs.

Syzygium – Bush Christmas –  – these grow 4m if left unpruned. Quick growing with Winter red new growth, flowers in Summer, followed by small red (edible) berries in Autumn, providing year round interest.

Callistemon – Kings Park Special – Quick growing native shrub – bird attracting. These grow quickly with moderate watering and are drought tolerant once screen is established.

Golden Cane Palm – this clumping palm can be used for screening, their dense, leafy fronds adding extra privacy.

Bamboo Himalayan Weeping    Clumping – This is a nice bamboo for a cooler, shadier  are in your garden.  They are both fast and slow. They tend to sit for awhile and you wonder what’s going on with them. Then BAM! Up they grow – an quickly

Bamboo Slender Weavers-    Clumping Bamboo – This grows up to 6m and is a good choice for a tall, bush screen. Like all other bamboo, it will sit for awhile before putting on new growth quite quickly. Trim to shape if needed

Bamboo Golden Goddess – Beautiful golden form of Clumping bamboo Grows 3/4m x 3/4m wide. Great for a nice dense screen to block out

Westringea fruiticosa – Another fast growing native plant. Great for coastal screening and windbreaks.

Moderate Growers

Viburnum tinus – This is one of those old fashioned, classic shrubs that has withstood the test of time. Viburnum tinus is slower to grow than other Viburnums – meaning less maintenance for you! and it keeps its shape quite nicely as it grows.  These are also covered in clusters of brilliant white flowers in Winter – Spring. Grows well in both full sun and shade, so if you’re wanting to plant an area that is both sunny and shady, this is a great choice.

Evergreen Ash – smaller, evergreen tree with glossy leaves, growing to 4-6m. Looks great for added height. Plant larger shrubs underneath

Magnolia Little Gem –  Dwarf form of Magnolia Grandiflora. Very tough plant, providing glossy foliage with large white flowers  year round. Drought tolerant once established.

Port wine magnolia – this shrub has the most divine, bubblegum like scent. These are slow to moderate growers, but worth the wait. The flowers are small, but the fragrance is divine.

Upright Flowering Plum Tree – This tree is upright and can be used for narrow passages, or down a fenceline. These are relatively quick growing, the beauty of these is that they are already a great size. Deciduous, so lose their leaves in Winter. 

This article has been updated. Original publishing date is Nov 2 2015