Hedges and Screens

So there’s that outdoor area that needs privacy from neighbours; the desire to accentuate the curve of a driveway, the framing of a pool; the blocking of an ugly fence line or high-rise apartment block next door.

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So there’s that outdoor area that needs privacy from neighbours; the desire to accentuate the curve of a driveway, the framing of a pool; the blocking of an ugly fence line or high-rise apartment block next door.

There are many reasons why we choose to define spaces and screen off areas. Is a clipped structure required; a selection that is in-leaf all year round or do you prefer something offering seasonal variation?

Do you want to see through foliage or must the trees remain visually impenetrable? With so many questions it is a good idea to talk to specialists who can give you the clarity to make the right selection. 

So when do you screen and when do you hedge?

While both a screen and a hedge is planted with some overriding purpose, generally speaking, a hedge is a solid structure clipped to shape. They often have a sharp edge, or in the very least have a defined line to their form. To keep tidy, hedges demand a certain level of attention. Suitable selections will have tight foliage with smallish leaves to give the structure density.

A screen on the other hand is usually a row of trees that are planted to shelter, protect or conceal something. As such they are taller, with foliage that may or may not totally deprive the eye of what’s behind it. Screens tend to be open and free-flowing and not necessarily as dense as a hedge. Nor are they clipped to shape, but allowed to move and sway depending on their own structural attributes.

Your need to screen or hedge will depend on what you are trying to do.

Low to medium hedges make great dividers of space. From 30cm tall to 8 metres tall, trees are planted close together to block view or to form a solid line. They can enclose pockets of garden for a special purpose or train the eye to go in a certain direction. Speciality Trees have a number of species suitable for defining areas based on the height you need your hedge to be. Because they are clipped, these selections are primarily traditional but there are a number of newer lines worth considering for this purpose.

For skinny hedge selections click here. For petite hedging lines, click here. For broad hedging selections, click here.

With screens we can use a larger palette of selection and therefore can get a little more creative, depending on use. These full specimens branch all the way to the ground and foliage can be tightly packed or soft and open – the choice of which will probably depend on what sits behind the screen and where it is located in relation to neighbours and your line of sight. There are many selections to consider including colour and flowering options for different times of the year.

For skinny selections for screening, click here. For petite screening lines, click here. For broad screening selections, click here.

For tips on spacing, please refer to Planting Tips for Hedges.

Unique to Speciality Trees and one of our most popular sellers! This is a versatile, bushy tree with a wonderful weeping habit making it perfect for large screening projects and the softening of fence lines. Propagated from Victorian mother-stock, unlike other Waterhousea, so responds better to all weather conditions, including cooler climates. New growth starts off pink with leaves turning to various shades of green as the foliage matures. Foliage is maintained to the base of the plant giving a year-round lush, full appearance. It forms a small quantity of creamy-white flowers in summer. Berry production on 'Whisper' is unlike other Lilly Pillies, with minimal quantities of small green berries that, whilst bird attracting, these fruits are tucked in amongst the foliage and are not obvious. 40cm/27L 50cm/52L 100L 150L
The Italian Pencil Pine is an excellent, low maintenance choice for creating a formal look in areas where space is limited. This variety has a dense, upright, columnar growth habit and requires very little to no pruning to maintain its shape. Foliage is aromatic with a blue-green shade and produces less fruit than many other pencil pine selections. 30cm/14L
This is a very hardy evergreen shrub or small tree. Its dense habit lends itself well to hedging and screening and as it responds well to pruning, it is even ideal as a large standard. Bark is blackish-brown and the leaves are glossy, dark green and oval in shape, with new growth being lime green in colour. Small white flower heads decorate the tree in spring followed by cherry-like fruits which are green or reddish green at first, and turn dark purple or black as they ripen in late summer or early autumn. 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 50cm/52L
This could be a tall spreading shade tree, but mostly we see this tree ordered for its thick foliage and suitability for instant hedging and screens. 'Flash' has super attractive foliage that consists of different shades of green. They are great for clipping into a tight formal hedge, as a topiary specimen or a screen to 10m if left untrimmed. Just prune to keep shape! They also cope well in many growing situations and soils, in full sun or part shade. 20cm/4.5L 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 50cm/52L 100L 150L
A native shrub with a dense habit. This is a fast-growing variety well suited to hedging and screens. Compact glossy green foliage develops a lovely coppery hue in the new growth. During the warmer months, white fluffy blossom are borne, followed by fleshy red berries. 20cm/4.5L 30cm/14L 50cm/52L
This native shrub or small tree is very hardy and adaptable to a wide range of locations and soils. It is generally trouble-free, growing to about 4m high and 2m across. The flowers appear as beautiful crimson spikes which are borne in spring and summer. Requiring little to no maintenance, this variety flowers over a lengthy period and the slender, green foliage forms a neat, rounded appearance. 40cm/27L 50cm/52L
This is a lovely hardy foliage-feature tree with refreshing lime new growth and dense foliage to the ground. A great option for hedging or screening to around 5m tall. In summer, some white fluffy flowers appear, berry production is unlike other Lilly Pillies, with minimal quantities of small edible deep to light mauve berries that don't stain surfaces if left or crushed.
This variety of Lilly Pilly can be used for both small and tall borders. It has been selected for its new growth which is plum-coloured, hence its name, which turns deep green when mature. 'Plum Magic' also has a higher resistance to psyllid than other Syzygium. 30cm/14L 40cm/27L 50cm/52L

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With over 400 tree varieties for review, the Treefinder app enables you to conveniently browse and compile a list of trees suitable for a number of common landscaping uses - from attracting birds to creating a formal screen or hedge. By selecting desired size, foliage, and a few categories, Treefinder opens up a world of possibilities.

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