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How To Use Plants for Shade and Privacy

When it comes to outdoor living, there are two factors that can drastically impact your comfort levels: the amount of shade available to stay cool and out of the direct sunlight, and the level of privacy you have. While no one wants to see dad mow the lawn in his speedos, he should feel free to have that option without prying eyes from the neighbourhood watching on!

There are any number of reasons for wanting to up the privacy factor for your alfresco areas. Maybe your neighbours can see right into your yard, or a busy, elevated road looks straight into your home. Whatever it may be, natural screening options are readily available. Using plants as an organic, living privacy solution will add bursts of vivacious colour to your property and effectively block lines of sight – while also providing shady respite from the blazing summer sun.

Natural screening is also used in a variety of ways to suit your space while creating shade and protection from the elements. Screening plants tend to share some very similar characteristics: Fast growing, dense and bushy, hardy and tough, and they are mostly evergreen plants. Below are the most popular plants that suit these criteria.

Bamboo is a hardy, lush looking plant that is very popular. It grows fast and provides a high wall of greenery. Knowing which variety to get is extremely important. If you plant the running variety, it will spread fast and shoots will pop up everywhere (even in your neighbour’s yard) and can become overwhelming if not tended too. This is why clumping bamboo is the smart choice, it grows in a neat upright fashion and the leaves provide a lovely natural shade. When properly looked after, bamboo is a stunning option for boosting the privacy of your yard.

Lilly Pilly
Another popular choice for privacy is the Lilly Pilly, a gorgeous glossy leaved bush that produces sweet scented flowers every spring. There are many varieties to pick from, so be sure to consult with your local nursery in order to choose the best one for your location. The Aussie Bloomer variety grows up to 3 metres – the perfect height for screening plants. It is a speedy grower and particularly dense, which is handy in dulling external sounds.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon)
If you are after a plant that will grow on the larger side, this is a good selection. A native, known for its hardiness that produces beautiful flowers in the summer. A popular attraction for the bees, birds and butterflies, this plant can be used as a hedge, for screening or as a front yard statement. A word of caution however, if you have a possum problem this may not be a great option as they love to munch on the foliage of this plant.

Some plants can take a little longer to mature into attractive, lush hedges and screening. But the wait is almost always worth it when it comes to Privet, the classic hedge style for a stunning outdoor area. It is important to consider the spacing and potential growth when planting to achieve optimum results.

This dense hedge plant offers an excellent and popular choice for screening. Reaching the perfect height of three to four metres, this small leaved evergreen plant is the ultimate low maintenance selection. The new growth showcases a reddened colour that slowly fades to green, adding pops of colour that add to your outdoor aesthetic.

This climbing plant is ideal when grown on a screen, up poles or trained to go where-ever you want it to. With Ivy you can create a well-shaded area relatively quickly with minimal effort. Perfect for smaller areas like a balcony, its root system is much smaller than the plants listed above.

It is recommended to consult an expert such as a landscaper to determine the best plants for your property and to plant them in the correct spot. Knowledgeable employees at your local nursery will be a great help if you’re on a budget, helping out with recommendations and proper care tips. It is important to consider the needs of the plant you decide to go with in order to create not only a practical screening and or shade solution, but an appealing, lush getaway in your own backyard.