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Privacy gardening

Some neighbours are like family, others are not. While there may be some neighbours who like to share open discussions over the fence, there are unfortunately some that are better blocked out of view and out of mind.

However privacy in ones own yard can lead to people reassessing their boundaries. If you do not feel secure in walking about in your own yard without being watched all the time then you need to look at options to improve your privacy.

Building a new extension is one way to block out views of the neighbours.
So too is building a solid brick, concrete or metal fence. They may not be very aesthetic but that can be overcome with paint or dare I say … plants.

Although building a wall or solid fence has an instant result, plants will take time to mature and form a functional privacy hedge. It is is a cheaper alternative if you have time to wait.

Features of a privacy hedge
Privacy hedges must restrict view both ways… this means outsiders from looking in and insiders looking outwards. If you can see out through your hedge then you are less likely to feel secure that anyone can’t see in.

Good plants are those that:-
* are multibranched
* has a dense habit
* has large leaves or abundant with foliage
* grow vigorously
* rejuvenates quickly after pruning

Other features of a privacy hedge that are desirable but not essential:-
* flowers abundantly
* beneficial to local fauna
* is water efficient
* does not require regular pest control

Privacy hedges can be used to create rooms within the landscape by defining the ‘walls’ of the room. These walls can therefore reflect seasonal changes by their subtle changes throughout the year or mimic internal feature walls when the hedge flowers in full bloom especially when using camellias.

Privacy hedges can also replicate security barriers in that some plants come with spines and thorns. For community safety, avoid using thorny/spined privacy hedges along border fences.

When buying plants for hedging do not look for height. Instead, look for multibranching low on the plant. Additionally it is imperative that regular pruning be undertaken to encourage new flushes for maximum leaf coverage.

Good Privacy hedge plants up to 2-4m (all will need pruning) include:-

  • Backhousia citriodora (Lemon scented myrtle)
  • Callistemon cultivars (Bottlebrushes)
  • Camellia sasanqua cultivars
  • Murraya paniculata (Orange Jessamine) 
  • Metrosideros excelsa (NZ Christmas tree)
  • Plumbago auriculata 
  • Photinia sp.
  • Syzygium cultivars (Lillypillies)
  • Viburnum sp.

Other privacy screening plants worth trying if space is available:-

  • Bambusa textiles var. ‘Gracilis’ (Slender weavers’ bamboo)
  • Dypsis lutescens (Golden cane palm)
  •  Ptychosperma macarthurii (Macarthur palms)
  •  Areca triandra (Clumping beetel nut)
  •  Dypsis cabadae (Blue cane)
  •  Rhapis excelsa and R. humilis (Lady palm)
  •  Chamaedora atrovirens (Cascade)

 

Written by Paul Plant FAIH, Freelance Horticultural and Landscape writer





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