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Screening for Privacy

Suburban living means having houses nearby, many of which overlook into neighbours properties. Implementing privacy is now a major priority for landscaping a garden.


Look at the angle and direction from which unwanted views infringe onto the property. These elements help to create the best strategy to overcome the problem, usually in the form of plant screening or physical barriers.


Physical barriers may require council approval but can involve raising the height of the fence, replacing a semi-permeable fence with a solid fence, or creating new structures as landscape features that block unwanted views.


Perhaps the simplest method, although taking longer to achieve, is the use of plants as screening barriers.


Living screening have a few key advantages:-

  • they tend to be more visually pleasing in softening harsh buildings
  • they grow bigger over time thereby saving money by avoiding construction costs
  • can reflect seasonal changes from the dry cool winters to the hot humid summers by flower or leaf colour variation
  • can be a positive enhancement to the environment for animal life
  • can enhance the amenity value of suburb and property.

In deciding what plants make good screening specimens the following characteristics are sought:-

  • multibranched
  • large leaves or mass production of small leaves
  • tolerant of pruning
  • capable of tolerating harsh growing conditions
  • will not grow too big to cause damage to surrounding structures like fences, buildings and driveways.

This last point is important as most screening is required in narrow spaces beside houses or where soil and garden care is not a priority for the home owners.

By far the most popular screening plants include:

  • Lillypillies – a wide range of cultivars available
  • Murraya paniculata ‘exotica’

However try not to be the same as the jones’ by using more interesting plants. Where only a narrow space is available for screening plants, try:-

  • Bamboos such as Monastery Bamboo (Thyrostachys siamensis)
  • Mast tree (Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula)
  • Macarthur Palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii)  
  • Song of India (Dracaena reflexa)
  • Heliconia bihai x caribaea ‘Richmond Red’

If more width is available for screening, use small trees such as:-

Anatto (Bixa orellana)

  • Star Apple (Chrysophyllum cainito)
  • Bull bay (Magnolia grandiflora)
  • Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora)

If trying to create a flowering screen, then the following reliable plants are worth investing in:-

  • Hibiscus
  • Camellias
  • Michelia ‘Coco’
  • Gmelina philippensis
  • Yesterday Today Tomorrow (Brunfelsia)

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