The Tree Shop guide to screening

Whatever the reason, sometimes we need to put a bit of plant between us and the outside world. So here it is, the list of our favourite plants for giving you a little bit of privacy.

Blueberry Ash

Screening plants don’t have to simple be a wall of green. The Blueberry ash has foliage that takes on a range of colour. It emerges with coppery tones, deepening to a dark green with ash coloured bloom with maturity. Old leaves turn crimson red before falling, and in Spring the tree is covered head to toe with pink bell flowers. Finally there are the porcelain blue seeds that decorate the tree through summer. A wonderful tree for tall screening that doesn’t require much maintenance.

Water requirements: Drought hardy once established. Best results with even moisture.

Climate: Full sun to part shade. Will tolerate light frost.

Hedging size: Can be prune to restrict height. Left unpruned will reach heights of 8-12m by 4m wide.

Flower: Pink bell shaped flowers, Spring

Fruit: Small, hard blue berries.

Ficus Flash

The ultimate in screening, this would have to be Melbourne’s most popular hedging plants. These guys grow at a rate of knots and look super lush year-round! But beware, the roots of these trees can be a nightmare if they get into pipes and drains, so maybe look at other options if that is a potential issue. Also, be aware that if left unclipped these trees can get very, very big!

Water requirements: moderate to high

Climate: Frost sensitive

Hedging size: 5m h x 3m w

Flower: insignificant

Fruit: Insignificant

Acmena ‘Sublime’

All the good looks of a Ficus without the scary root system. Acmena Sublime is a low fruiting Lilly Pilly that flushes lime green new growth as opposed to the classic copper. Furthermore, due to their compact size, it’s not even necessary to hedge them if you are just after an informal screen. They have a moderate/fast growth rate so can be hedged with once a year pruning.

Water requirements: Drought hardy once established. Best results with regular moisture.

Climate: Tolerates light frost

Hedging size: 4m h x 1.5m w clipped, 5m h x 2.5m w unclipped

Flower: Classic fluffy white Lilly Pilly flower

Fruit: Rare. Pruning after flowering should ensure next to no fruit.



Bamboos are a great option for screening, in particular when you need HEIGHT and you want it FAST. They offer both softness from their foliage and a structural feature from their canes. It can be clipped and pruned in several different ways to suit the style of your garden.

Bamboo looks great in pots, however, for longevity, you need to choose a pot that is large, heavy and strong.

Bamboo can also be quite thirsty, particularly when they have filled up a pot. As such, it is best to install an automated watering system if you are likely to go away over the summer.

When planting in the ground, it is important to choose a clumping bamboo, to ensure that little shoots don’t start popping up in unwanted spots.

The variety of bamboo you choose will ultimately come down to the space you have available and they height desired.

Portuguese laurel


If you have a Mediterranean style garden or are wanting something that looks a little more rugged, the Portuguese Laurel is the one for you. This shrub makes a great alternative if you like the look of bay trees but want something that grows a lot faster. Dark green leaves on red tinged stems make this a bold and dramatic choice for hedging. Sweetly scented panicles of flowers are a real treat in spring and soften this masculine shrub.

Water requirements: Drought hardy once established. Best results with even moisture.

Climate: Frost and hot sun tolerant

Hedging size: 5m h x 3m w

Flowers: Panicles of white, fragrant flowers

Fruit: Red to black berries. Prune after flowering to reduce numbers



Waterhousia makes a lovely soft looking hedge with it’s lightly weeping foliage. It’s fast growing and flushes copper new growth which fades to lime green and then a rich, dark green. Furthermore, this is a great tree to use if you are wanting a hedge with a little extra height. These trees produce fluffy white flowers like other lilly pillies but the fruit, which birds love, are white instead of pink. Pruning is important with these trees as if they are left to their own devices, they can become large and woody and difficult to return to their desired state.

Water requirements: Moderate.  Can withstand short periods of drought when established, however best results with even moisture.

Climate: Frost sensitive

Hedging size: 5m h x 2-3m w

Flowers: While lilly pilly flowers

Fruit: White berries, Prune after flowering to reduce numbers



Looking for a cool and casual screening option? Viburnum odoratissium varieties have big chunky leaves that lend themselves to less formal gardens. With both dull and glossy leaf options these excellent shrubs have a moderate to fast growth rate. They’re idea if you don’t want anything that gets too tall. They also produce lovely clusters of creamy white flowers that have a sweet perfume.

Water: Moderate

Climate: frost hardy, best kept out of the more extreme sun

Hedging size: 3-4m h x 2-3m w

Flowers: Clusters of little white flowers that smell sweetly

Fruit: Clusters or little red berries

Magnolia Kay Paris


Magnolia Kay Paris makes a most luxurious hedge. Large, glossy, deep green leaves with a brown backing gives these trees a unique point of interest in the landscape. Add to that their massive creamy white blooms that come on during the summer months and they are a real winner. Their upright habit makes them ideal for screening. They key to keeping this Magnolia happy is lots of nutrients and consistent water.

Water: Moderate

Climate: Frost hardy

Hedging size: 4m h x 2m w

Flowers: Very large white magnolia blooms

Fruit: red seeds derived from the pinecone like fruiting body

Tolley’s Upright Olive


This low fruiting olive is fabulous for adding some colour to the garden and for creating a coastal feel. These long-lived leaves have some of the most silver tones of any olive when supplied with regular water have a moderate growth rate. Get all the character of an olive tree without the annual mess of fallen olives.

Water: Drought hardy once established. For best results and fastest growth, give regular watering

Climate: Frost and heat hardy

Hedging size: 4mh x 2m w

Flowers: Insignificant

Fruit: little to none.

Camelia sasanqua:


If you’ve got a space that is shady or goes from shade to sun, then a Camellia hedge could be the one for you. Dark, dense, glossy foliage matched with stunning cool weather blooms make this a stand out in any garden. These trees love rich, acidic soil, so supply them with lots of organic matter and you’ll have a very happy and long-lived hedge. It’s best to buy your camelias as advanced as you can as they are on the slow side when it comes to growth.

Water: Drought hardy once established (less so in full sun)

Climate: Cold hardy. Some Sasanquas will take full sun however some protection from afternoon sun is best.

Hedging size: 2-3m h x 1-2m w

Flowers: Magnificent! Wide range of colours to choose from

Fruit: Small, hard, camelia nuts.