02 May How do I increase my privacy?
Originally Posted on Houzz.com.au Feature Image: Houzz.com.au
Choose fast-growing privacy plants!
Adam Woodhams, horticulturist and Victa ambassador, reveals how to choose, and care for, fast-growing privacy plants that will give you a bit of privacy from the neighbours.
There’s a saying that goes ‘good fences make good neighbours’. Personally, I think we should change the expression to ‘good hedges grow great neighbours’.
With many plant varieties, the difference between a screen (which obscures but doesn’t completely block a view) and a hedge (a densely growing planting that cuts out all views) is often just in the pruning.
- Regular pruning and shaping creates a dense hedge that will provide total privacy.
- Occasional trimming and shaping will create a screening effect with a diffused view.
- The only exception is clumping bamboos. With these, it’s about selecting the appropriate species to suit your needs.
While built screens such as fences give you instant privacy, who wants to spend years looking at timber slats or lattice when you could be looking at a lush green or flowering backdrop instead? Screening hedges don’t just create a living, breathing divider between your property and your neighbour’s, they’ll beautify your outdoor space too.If privacy is a priority, look for plant species that:
- Are fast growing,
- Have small, densely packed foliage as this will give a denser screen,
- Take to trimming well, and
- Have the right mix of upright and horizontal growth.
It’s also important to choose a plant that will thrive in your garden’s conditions. Consider your garden’s:
- Level of wind exposure,
- Level of sunlight (is it full-sun, part-sun or do light levels vary in different sections of the garden?),
- Soil (is it shallow or deep, sandy or clay?), and
- What level of maintenance is required to get the desired result?
Here are 5 of my favourite fast-growing privacy plants:
Grows: Up to 1.8 metres (standard fence height) in under three years in a warm, temperate climate.
Grows: Up to 1.8 metres in two to three years in a warm, temperate climate.
Grows: Up to 1.8 metres in 12 to 18 months in a warm temperate climate.
5. Clumping bamboo: These are the only bamboos to plant, in my view. My favourite is the variegated dwarf Malay (Bambusa heterostachya variegated). It is a true hedging bamboo easily achieving two metres in less than 18 months – and with a good density, not just height. It also holds very dense foliage from ground level to its top, and knits together very well to create a true hedge, fast. It will grow to around four metres, but you can just trim its top off once it reaches ideal height.
Maintenance of clumping bamboo couldn’t be easier; simply feed, water and then step back. To really kick them along, feed every three months with a quality lawn fertiliser (they are a giant grass, after all).
Grows: As an example of how quickly clumping bamboo grows, I screened a three-storey house from view in just over 18 months.
- Don’t plant too close together. Sure, your hedge may form up faster, but the plants will end up competing with each other for food and water.
- For a short hedge, dig individual holes. For a larger hedge, trench planting might be faster and easier.
- Consider your neighbours. Don’t plant anything that will block their views, cause them a maintenance headache, overshadow their property or block their sunlight.
- Do your research; take the time to find the right plants for your situation.
- Buy plants as advanced as you can afford in order to grow your hedge faster.
- Install a drip-irrigation system on a timer when you plant. Correct watering is critical for quality growth.
- Improve the planting soil by blending through some quality compost or composted manure.
- Feed at planting time and then at regular intervals. I like Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics as it has a controlled-release component that feeds for six months, and an organic component that looks after soil microorganisms.
- Prune early and often to get your hedge looking dense and bushy. The easiest way is with battery-powered hedging shears such as Victa’s 82V Hedge Crafter.
- Mulch well at planting time and top up at least once a year.