The best plants and materials for your boundary
“The advantage of timber is that it’s versatile and adaptable to various home and garden styles,” says landscape designer Claudia Crawley of Grindstone Landscapes.
“There are many style options available, such as lapped and capped, timber battens or pickets, and they can all be easily painted in any colour, although I always recommend painting a dark colour – try Dulux Monument or Namadji – as it reduces the visible impact of the fence and offsets plants very well.”
Timber does have a shorter life span (15-30 years) than most other materials, but with the right know-how, it’s simple to replace.
Durable, lightweight and available in a range of colours, Colorbond is the go-to choice in many modern homes.
It’s best installed by professionals but can be a straightforward job for a handy DIYer. “Once it’s installed, it’s easy to maintain, is incredibly long lasting and, unlike other materials, it’s termite resistant,” says Claudia Crawley.
Colorbond fencing can be prone to dents, however, depending on the extent of the damage, they can be pulled out or individual sheets can easily be replaced.
Adam Rassam, group sales manager of Protector Aluminium, says, “Aluminium is incredibly versatile.
It’s available in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit tricky corners, spaces or levels, and can be easily welded into the desired shape.
Plus, it can be used for security, decorative and safety purposes, like pool and balustrade fencing.”
Since aluminium fencing isn’t solid it won’t completely block out views, and lets light and airflow through.
Installing aluminium is easier than most traditional fencing options and a little TLC with a soft brush and mild detergent will prolong the life of your fence.
Brick and block walls
“The great thing about brick walls is that they can withstand the elements, absorb and radiate heat (so they can be a very high-performing part of passive solar design) and are available in a wide range of earthy natural tones and textures,” says urban horticultural consultant Matt Gerakios at Phyton Australia.
“Masonry block walls provide many design options from solid, genuine privacy walls through to block piers that can be used with other fencing materials like glass or aluminium,” says Karl Wood, marketing manager at Adbri Masonry.
“Besser block walls also provide options in finishing – they can be left exposed, painted in a colour that suits your home, or rendered and painted for a modern look.” The only downside, says Matt, is “premium cost for materials and construction, the extensive foundation work involved and, once placed, they can be very difficult to modify or remove.”
Unlike solid materials, hedges are alive and, as such, there is an almost endless range of choices available to suit your needs, says Matt Gerakios. “There are varying colours, textures, shapes and sizes, plus seasonal colours are possible with many of the popular hedging species,” he explains. “But there is a bit of groundwork that needs to be done to get them growing.”
There’s also ongoing maintenance involved, as you will need to water, feed and trim your plants regularly, and keep an eye out for pests and diseases, but hedges suit the look of most homes and you’ll often find they will help cool the air around your building, too. “It can take a little bit of time for them to establish and to get to the height you want, but the wait is worth it,” adds Matt.
If you’re looking to plant a privacy hedge or screen, try these fast-growing options:
Clumping bamboos Tough, dense-growing bamboos that are non-invasive. Grows to 6-8m.
Chinese star jasmine Heavenly scented star-shaped white flowers cover the vines of this climber in spring. Train along the top of a fence or over a lattice. This plant is a climber.
Photinia ‘Red Robin’ A rapid grower with gorgeous crimson-red new growth contrasting against lush green leaves. Grows to 2m.
Pittosporum ‘Screen Master’ Vigorous, bushy and upright hedge with variegated silver-grey foliage. Given the right conditions, it can grow up to 1m annually. Grows to 5-6m.
Lilly pilly A common hedging plant, with shiny green leaves that are blushed pink or red when new. Grows to 3-5m.
Japanese box Glossy green leaves and dense foliage makes this hedge great for screening and formal gardens. Grows to 2m.
Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ Large, handsome, glossy green foliage with golden-russet undersides. Stunning and fragrant creamy-white blooms cover the plant in spring. Grows to 4m.
Bottle brush Much loved for its flamboyant red-pink flowers and bird-attracting qualities, this native makes a relaxed hedge. Grows to 1-3m depending on the cultivar.