Planting an Effective Screen

# 16

Local North Queensland information for Local North Queenslanders.

So you want to screen out your neighbours and cut out the traffic noise…

picture-45You could build a fence 2 metres high, but how sterile and hot is that? Much better to plant a screen of native plants to filter and cool the air, produce flowers, attract birds and butterflies and create a lovely shady feel to your garden.

Here’s what NOT to do!

DON’T select a particular variety and plant a monoculture of the same thing! Why not? For a start, they won’t all grow the same. Some will grow well, others will be ordinary, and invariably there will be a couple of runts which hardly grow at all. So, your nice even row of plants will be anything but even, and the uneven-ness will stand out like a sore thumb.

DON’T plant your plants in individual holes. The last thing you want to do is spend your week-end mowing between all the plants along your fence line.

On small suburban blocks you probably won’t have room for more than one row of plants. However, on a larger block, DON’T plant a single row unless your space is too narrow for anything more, since it is easy to see straight through the gaps between the plants, and you may not have achieved the privacy you set out for.

Phyllanthus cuscutiflorus
Phyllanthus cuscutiflorus

So, here’s what you SHOULD do!

  1. Thorough soil preparation is the key to good plant growth, so dig up the whole bed.
  2. Choose a mixture of different plants with a variety of foliage shapes, sizes and colours.
  3. Where space allows, plant at least two rows of plants and (on larger blocks) better still three. Stagger the plants in the rows.

This way, you will create a lovely thick bushy screen with so much visual appeal that people will look AT the plants rather than THROUGH them. No-one will see you on the other side. And if a couple of plants don’t grow quite as well as the others, no-one will notice because, hey, they’re all different anyway!

Xanthostemon chrysanthus

How many plants do you need?

To calculate the number of plants you will need, a good rule of thumb is to work on a spacing of 1.5m to 2m apart. Don’t go closer than 1.5m, as the plants will fight each other for space and become thin and lanky. Don’t go further than 2m apart or the plants will take too long to meet up and create a screen.

Do you have a large block or acreage?

Flacourtia sp
Flacourtia sp

Make your screen at least 2 (and preferably 3) rows wide. The following additional plants make great screens and windbreaks for large blocks:

  • Syzygium: tierneyanum
  • Syzygium bamagense
  • Cryptocarya triplinervis
  • Chionanthus ramiflorus
  • Casuarina cunninghamiana

Here’s some good screen plants for a normal suburban yard (heights are a general guide only, as height varies according to micro-climate and soil):

Some screen plants for a tropical look:

  • Syzygium aqueum 2-3m
  • Cleistanthus apodus 3-4m
  • Cleistanthus hylandii 3-4m
  • Flacourtia sp 3-4m
  • Syzygium smithii 3-4m
  • Syzygium fibrosum 3-4m
  • Syzygium paniculatum 3-4m
  • Phyllanthus cuscutiflorus 4-5m
  • Scolopia braunii 4-6m
  • Syzygium australe & its various forms
  • Xanthostemon chrysanthus 4-7m
  • Buckinghamia celsissima 5-7m
  • Syzygium luehmannii 5-7m
  • Syzygium hemilampra 5-7m

Honeyflora screen plants:

  • Callistemon Captain Cook 2m
  • Callistemon Rose Opal 2m
  • Callistemon Emerald Beauty 2m
  • Callistemon Reeves Pink 2m
  • Callistemon recurvus 3m
  • Callistemon Wilderness White 3m
  • Callistemon viminalis Rocky River 4m
  • Callistemon Prolific 4m
  • Callistemon Yuruga Red 4 m
  • Callistemon Dawson River 4m
  • Callistemon Hannah Ray 4m
  • Callistemon Mr Foster 4m
  • Callistemon Pindi Pindi 4m
  • Callistemon Eureka 5m
  • Leptospermum amboinense 2-3m
  • Leptospermum Lemon Frost 2m
  • Melaleuca Snowfire 2m
  • Melaleuca Revolution Gold 4m
  • Melaleuca Silver Dollar 3-4m
  • Melaleuca Snowstorm 2-3m
  • Melaleuca Compacta 2m
  • Grevillea Kay Williams 3-4m
  • Grevillea Caboolture 3-4m
  • Grevillea Honey Gem 3-4m
  • Grevillea longistyla 3-4m
  • Grevillea Majestic 3-4m
  • Grevillea Pink Surprise 3-4m
  • Grevillea Orange Marmalade 3-4m
If you include grevilleas in your screen, be aware that they usually have a life-span of only 10-15 years. Pay particular attention to pruning your grevilleas in the first year to create thick bushy shrubs (see Info Sheet No.6 “Pruning Native Plants“). picture-94
The information provided here on this Information Sheet is of a general nature only, and is not intended to provide specific advice about any individual’s specific situation.