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“I want to take a p*ss in my yard and have no one be able to see me.”

These are the words my friend told the real estate agent, a real estate agent that I knew personally and had contacted on my friend’s behalf, mind you. I was mortified. But you know what, he had a point. Everyone wants the freedom to walk around their garden in pj’s or underwear or whatever takes their fancy. 

Portuguese Laurel medium hedge

That’s why I’ve created a list of MY Top 10 Hedges & Screens for fast reliable privacy. Now this is not a countdown of the top ten most popular hedges, because frankly, those lists just aren’t correct. This is the list I have created, using years of practical hands-on experience and decades of horticulture knowledge.

Weeping Lilly Pilly Hedge

First, we need to chat about the fact that these aren’t even the hedges I was recommending ten years ago. Things have changed since then. A lot. There are more two storey houses around which means you’re going to need taller hedges that can also handle the shade. Oh, and that really popular Lily Pilly people love so much? Yeah, there’s a beetle that loves Lilly Pillys so much it moved from Queensland to also live in Victoria. Many species of Lilly Pillys are now being decimated by these beetles. Not to mention blocks are getting smaller, which means that you’re likely to have confined root spaces. Now, more than ever, people are needing privacy.

This is how you’re going to get it.

Top 10 Hedges and Screens for Privacy

Weeping Lilly Pilly Hedge

Starting off with the first pick is the Weeping Lilly Pilly. Yes, you heard that right. No, I’m not talking about the Lilly Pilly that is being chowed down by that beetle, but rather a type of Lilly Pilly that the beetles don’t touch. The Weeping Lilly Pilly grows very, very fast – we’re talking a metre and half per year. So, in two years you could have a hedge that is four or five metres tall. Bye bye neighbours. The Weeping Lilly Pilly also does great in the shade so it’s not a problem if you’re planting them next to tall buildings. Another point in favour of the Weeping Lilly Pilly is that they very seldom produce a berry, which means you don’t have to worry about berries staining your pavement. This is just a really hardy hedge that is low maintenance and reliable with very few problems.

My next favourite is the Smithii Acmena which is another type of Lilly Pilly that has also avoided the advances of those pesky beetles. Who knows what is going on in the minds of those beetles, but they just hate the Smithii Acmena. Now, these are a good option if you’re living by the sea as they can take a bit of salt. They’re fast growing and range between heights of 1.5 meters up to about 4 metres, sometimes even 5 of 6 metres. There is also a tonne of different varieties. You got types such as Fire Screen, Forest Flame, even a Cherry Surprise which gives a sort of red toning on the new growth. Overall, the Smithii Acmena gives you fairly fine dense foliage but without the weeping finish you get from Weeping Lilly Pillys. 

My next pick is the Ficus Flash – they’re just absolutely fabulous! You’ll understand the name when you see how quickly these grow, one guy had a Ficus Flash hedge that was two metres high within 18 months. Now the bad side of Ficus Flash is that it has a very aggressive root system and if you allow them to grow to full size, their roots can be quite destructive. Definitely don’t go planting this next to someone’s pool or you might have some angry neighbours, and well the whole point of this is so they DON’T bother you. But all of this is very easily managed by just trimming them on a regular basis and being smart with where you plant it. 

The beautiful evergreen wall of luscious thick leaves you get in no time makes it well worth it. Only thing to note here is that they don’t do great in frost prone areas. Don’t get disheartened too quickly though if you are in a frosty area, as we do have a Ficus Hillii which is a great alternative.

The Sweet Viburnum is one of my favourites these days, I use it all the time because its so versatile.  I visited a customer recently and they planted it when it was about 20 cm and now have a bushy hedge over 1 metre high in just 12 months. It looked absolutely fabulous; all green and lush and beautiful. What’s great about the Sweet Viburnum is that it’ll thrive even in terrible shade or hot sun. You can stick them under trees and rest assured knowing they won’t wilt from the lack of sun exposure. Sweet Viburnum will grow up to four metres in height and has a slightly tropical look with big green flowers and nice white flowers in spring. 

The next on is the Glauca Pencil Pine – the hedge you get when you want it tall without the effort of needing to trim it constantly. This is a practical hedge that grows quickly, around a metre and a half a year and can get up to about nine metres tall. Its best to plant them around a metre apart to end up with a lovely green wall that doesn’t ever really need trimming. For a tall screen that’s very sensible, very economical, and very, very fast and reliable you can’t beat a Glauca Pencil Pine.

Another one of my favourites is your Box Leaf Privet. From a distance it actually looks a bit like an English Box, but you don’t have to wait years and years for it to grow. A Box Leaf Privet can start out as 20cm tall and be over a metre high in 12 months. It has a nice formal look to it and Box Leaf Privet will grow in almost any soil or conditions. They’re also quite soft and easy to trim – basically it’s just a good reliable hedge that isn’t going to cost you a lot. 

Another great option is the Portuguese Laurel which does fantastically in both deep shade and hot sun. Now this one isn’t as fast growing as the others but it’s a great solution for when you’re planting a hedge in an area that is going to deal with both a lot of shade and a lot of sun. It’s nice and easy to trim and train and has this really classy formal look to it. In springtime they have this beautiful white flower that’s like a cat’s tail that comes down and curves and looks a little fluffy. Really just a beautiful look with the dark green foliage.

The next one is your Cherry Laurel, which is perfect for somebody who wants a really grand hedge that is going to grow quickly. It has great big, luscious foliage on it and its one of the best options for doing a tall hedge fast. It’s a great thing for people in frosty areas, like Mount Macedon where basically every third hedge is a Cherry Laurel Hedge. 

Next is the Silver Sheen, a hedge that used to be the most popular hedge in Melbourne. This hedge is perfect for when you want something really narrow, as you can trim it quite a bit and it still maintains a nice thick bushiness. It grows very, very quickly but it’s important to have good soil so if you have terrible soil then you’re going to need to mix a bit of potting mix or good stuff in there to get it going. You can take a medium sized skinny little plant and turn it into a nice bushy two metre hedge in 12 months. Best to stick this one in a sunny spot but it can also grow in a shady spot. 

When Mr. Kill ‘em quick comes in, I’m running to recommend Photinia Robusta because this hedge is like a cockroach – it’s going to survive anything. Give it heat, drought, wind, poor soil, moderate wet feet, severe frost, and the thing just doesn’t die. It’s miraculous! It also has this brilliant red foliage that looks gorgeous in the garden. Now use plenty of water and fertilizer when its young and it grows like crazy, I’m talking up to one and half meters a year. Then once you’ve established it as the size you want, well, you can almost stop watering and fertilising it. Now I’m not saying you should purposefully treat it terribly, but you know, this is for the people out there that aren’t particularly green thumbs. 

In closing

If you’re still feeling lost, then it’s always a good idea to get in contact with someone who knows what they’re doing. Everyone deserves access to a beautiful garden, but not everyone has the knowledge or skill to make that happen. Which is why I started my free Garden Designs where you get one on one time with me, or one of our staff, to design your perfect dream garden, that will also realistically work in your space. Hedges can be a major investment both in terms of money and time and there’s no point planting something if in two years its dying because you didn’t have the right soil for it. I know the different types of hedges that are available, the types of problems, fashion, and landscape design aspect. Just jump onto our website and look for Free Garden Design button and you can be wondering around your backyard naked and carefree in no time. 

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