A living screen is a wonderful way to create a wall of green in your garden. Whether you’re looking to keep nosy neighbours at bay, create more shade, separate different areas of your garden or cover up an unsightly wall or fence, screening plants can help.
Whatever results you’re hoping to achieve, it’s likely that fast growth will top your list of plant features. While this needs to be balanced against other factors, such as soil conditions, aspect and maintenance needs, timely results are a worthy and attainable goal.
Types of screening plants
There are two main types of plants that are commonly used for screening. These are woody plants – trees and shrubs – and climbers.
Screening trees and shrubs typically have a dense structure all the way to the ground – think plants used in hedges. Climbers will also be dense varieties that spread over a trellis, wall or fence to create a screen.
When it comes to rapid growth, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is a relative term – don’t expect to see results overnight.
Trees and woody shrubs will need time to grow in, with even fast-growing varieties taking up up to a couple of years.
Once established, however, they’ll be around for many years to come.
Fast-growing screening trees and shrubs
Photinia Robusta is a popular hedge plant that’s great for screening off your front yard.
New foliage grows in a striking shade of red before maturing to glossy dark green, with regular clipping encouraging the red growth. Once established, it’s a hardy plant that’s forgiving of frost and drought.
Native to parts of NSW and Queensland, the Weeping Lilly Pilly is a large shrub with a gracefully weeping, dense canopy.
The foliage grows in pink before maturing to green, and it has distinctive pink fruits that are edible in jams and preserves. It works well as a softer-style unstructured hedge or a windbreak.
Pittosporum Silver Sheen makes a perfect fast-growing privacy hedge – ideal for hedging in the perimeter of your property or along a driveway.
It is tall growing and has dense foliage, making it well suited to this task, and requires minimal maintenance (although it can be pruned for a formal look). Attractive silvery foliage tops off the long list of benefits!
Fast-growing climbers for screening
Clematis varieties are a climbing vine that will put on a spectacular flower show, given the right care and conditions. Best in a sunny position (ideally, six hours sun per day), although the roots like to be kept cool – a groundcover or mulch at the base can help with this.
Late winter pruning is important to encourage flowering. The vines will clasp onto trellises, arches and other structures, as well as climb up lines of wire or even fishing line.
Hardenbergias (such as Happy Wanderer, the most well-known variety) are Australian native climbers with rich violet-mauve flowers from winter to early spring. This plant’s vigorous climbing habit makes it great for covering trellises, fences or pergolas, and will also spread as a creeping groundcover. They grow quickly, flower heavily and are low maintenance.
Boston Ivy (actually a member of the grape family, not related to true ivy which can be invasive) is a hardy deciduous climber with striking seasonal foliage. Ideal for covering almost any surface, it’s excellent for providing summer shade but letting valuable sunlight through in winter.
Left to its own devices, this vine will grow rapidly, reaching maturity at around 5 years. Lightly prune to shape as required.
Fast-growing screening plants in pots
Can you grow a green screen in pots? The answer is yes! This is a great approach to take for balconies, porches and patios. The key is choosing plants that are willing to grow in pots, and giving them a little extra TLC, as they can dry out and lose nutrients more quickly than plants in the ground.
Clematis is a popular choice for container growing (although be sure to choose a deep pot to house its deep root system), as is hardenbergia. Weeping lilly pilly can be grown in pots, as can many other small trees and shrubs commonly used in screening.
Shop screen plants now
Garden Express stocks a huge range screening plants, from popular hedging plants to trees and climbers. We also have a great selection of arches and other supports. Browse our online shop for more ideas.