How to: grow a living screen
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Judiciously planted privacy screens can create excellent neighbourly relations. Green screens or hedges are a much better choice than a 4m fence.
They offer essential privacy in this crazy overlooked world, and also contribute a tremendous feeling of sanctuary and enclosure.
A super-high fence can make you feel like you live in a corrections facility, whereas a green screen feels more like living in a lovely valley surrounded by hills. We also love the sound the wind makes as it rustles through the leaves of a green screen. Here are a few options to consider.
Planted at regular intervals these will form a narrow green wall. There are plenty of clumping bamboos to choose from in a variety of height to perfectly screen whatever eyesore you need to block. ‘Himalayan Blue’ is 3m high; ‘Slender Weaver’ and ‘Barbaretta’ are 5m high; and for a really tall screen, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Blue’ are 8m high. Plant clumps one metre apart for a quick screen. The plants will take two years to get to their mature height. Try Tiger Grass for a similar look to bamboo. At 2.5m tall it’s a smidgen higher than a boundary fence and provides a green screen from top to toe.
Lilly pilly ‘Cascade’ is a good 2-3m screen for narrow garden beds. In three years it will produce a dense screen at eye level. The shrub grows in a cascading habit with bright pink new growth and lovely pink flowers followed by bird-attracting pink fruit.
This may be best-known as an indoor plant, but it can be used outside and is frost tolerant to -10 C. Planted 30cm apart raphis create vertical walls of narrow growth to about 3m. They can be grown in a variety of climates and soil types from cold mountainous areas to the coast. Raphis are slow-growing, but long-lived palms.