Screening for privacy in a garden setting

  • On the edge: hedges provide privacy and screening, and with thoughtful selection of height, spread and placement, can add much to a garden (File photograph)

    On the edge: hedges provide privacy and screening, and with thoughtful selection of height, spread and placement, can add much to a garden (File photograph)


Hedges, it would appear, are an inherent part of the Bermuda landscape, whether it is the need for privacy — though this is questionable with the height of the hedges — or simply an unfortunate syndrome that has melded itself in to the psyche of the landscaper/homeowner.

Hedges are labour intensive and often used with little thought as to purpose, as in many cases they are deciduous, which is not very practical in an exposed location.

In exposed locations hedges are a first line of protection for the garden, and with that in mind should be of an hardy nature, such as using Pittosporum tobira, Elaeagnus pungens, Calophyllum inophyllum (though a tree can be trained as a hedge) as is often seen with Cassine laneanum — Olivewood Bark; Podocarpus macrophylla — Japanese Yew; Conocarpus erectus sericea — Grey Buttonwood.

In more protected areas, consider creating a bed of mixed plants which offer interest all year round, with flower, colour, foliage, seed and fruit. Beds can be linear or have a serpentine appearance, either way the beds should have depth to increase the visual impact and feeling of privacy. When selecting type of material consider factors such as flowering periods and longevity of flowers; does it produce seed and fruit, are they hardy and tolerances to wind salt spray if applicable, do they prefer shade or sun, are flowers fragrant etc.

Consider height and spread which will be beneficial in not planting too closely with each other; plants should be allowed to ‘grow-in’ as they mature, which also makes maintenance far easier. If a shrub has a general width of four feet, it only has to grow two feet before it is touching its neighbour, so be careful not to over-plant.

Plant bed and property size should dictate plant selection, large plants should not be grown in small gardens and plant beds should be in scale with size of property. Large trees should only be used in spacious properties, whilst small trees can be well accommodated in smaller gardens.

Consider including in the plan and to increase interest, palms, small trees, shrubs, ground covers, grasses, herbaceous/bulbous, cacti, succulents and vines.

When viewing a bed from one side only, the formula is larger plants to rear smaller plants to the front, thus creating a ‘cascading’ effect with head on viewing of the plant palette. Here are some example:

Palms: Phoenix loureiri — Pygmy Date Palm; Rhapis excelsa — Lady Palm; Chamaerops humilis — European Fan Palm; Pritchardia pacifica — Fiji Palm; Veitchia merrellii — Manila Palm.

Small trees: Eriobotrya japonica — Loquat; Eryrthrina crista-galli — Coral tree; Sabinea carinalis — Caribwood; Plumeria rubra — Franjipani; Olea europaea — Olive.

Shrubs: Grewia occidentalis — Lavendar Scollops; Thryallis glauca — Cloth of Gold; Breynia nervosa — Snow plant; Brunfelsia Americana — Lady of the Night; Cestrum nocturnum — Night Jessamine; Codiaeum variegatum — Croton; Duranta repans — Pigeon Berry; Feijoa sellowiana- Pineapple Guava; Gossypium barbadense — Sea-island Cotton; Holmskiolda sanguinea — Chinese Hat plant; Ixora coccinea — Flame of the Woods; Jatropha hastate — Peregrine; Nandina domestica — Heavenly Bamboo; Rondeletia odorata — Panama Rose; Cryptostegia grandiflora — Rubber Vine.

Ground covers; Lantana hybrids; Pentas lanceolate; Salvia leucophylla; Senecio confusus — Mexican Flame vine; Asystasia gangetica — Chinese Violet; Russellia equisetiformis;

Grasses: Thysanolaena maxima — Tiger Grass; Miscanthus zebrinus — Zebra Grass; Penisetum setaceum purpureum — Purple Fountain Grass; Penisetum rubrum: Setaria palmifolia — Accordion Grass.

Herbaceous/Bulbous: Dietes bicolour — African Daisy; Agapanthus africanus — Lily of the Nile; Sansevieria cylindricus — African spear; Strelitzia reginae — Bird of Paradise; Ophiopogon japonicas — Mondo Grass; Liriope muscari — Lily Grass.

Cacti/Succulents: Agave franzosinii; Agave attenuate; Aloe vera; Aloe arborescens; Euphorbia splendens millii — Crown of Thorns; Euphorbia lacteal — Candelabra Cacti; Opuntia dillenii — Prickly Pear.

Vines: Allamanda cathartica Hendersonii; Petrea volublis — Sandpaper Vine; Clerodendron thomsoniae; Passiflora edulis — Passion Fruit: Beaumontia grandiflora — Easter Lily Vine.

Whatever the selection, it is important to recognise that placement is integral in the ‘final product’, as plants which are too close to each other do not achieve the best, as they fight for light, water and air; they will also require more regular pruning as they mature. Equally important is the size of planting hole, which should accommodate growth as the plant matures; too small a planting hole will retard growth once root ball has filled the planting hole, and thereafter roots will simple girdle the root ball and ‘strangle’ potential growth.

One final thought, I have always believed a garden should be viewed from inside the house as well as from the outside, with this in mind creating plant beds along the boundary enhances the view from inside.

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Published Aug 17, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 17, 2019 at 7:28 am)

Screening for privacy in a garden setting

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