13 Of The Best Privacy Plants In Australia
People plant hedges and trees for a variety of reasons—they look beautiful, attract wildlife, provide oxygen, and they create privacy for those who’d prefer their neighbours not to peep into their homes. Privacy plants are a fantastic way to create “screening” in your garden, whether from the street or surrounding properties, and can also help block out the sun and wind.
Often, the landscape determines which type of privacy plant will suit. Tall-growing plants will help create natural privacy screens, whereas smaller ones can be planted to form a hedge that won’t completely obscure your home’s façade.
Here are 16 privacy plants that will help you create the perfect garden oasis.
1. Lilly Pilly (Syzgium smithii)
Image from Gardening With Angus
Lilly Pillies have been popular screening plants for decades, and they grow from three up to five metres tall relatively quickly. They have glossy green leaves, small maroon edible berries, colourful flowers, and new growth has a pink flush of colour.
Hedges should be trimmed when they are in full bloom or just after flowering. This plant enjoys full sun and fertile soils that are mulched and well-drained. They also prefer cooler climates over tropical or harsh conditions.
2. Magenta Lilly Pilly (Syzygium paniculata)
Image from South Gippsland Pictures
Another Lilly Pilly variety—affectionately known as Neighbours-Be-Gone—is low-maintenance and fast-growing, reaching three to four metres in height depending on soil conditions. It is often grown in pots as topiary but excels as a hedge or dense screen around courtyards and pool areas.
In terms of ideal conditions, it grows best in full sun but can tolerate partly shady conditions. It prefers well-drained soils, and is frost-tolerant once established.
3. Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus)
Image from Brenlissa Online Nursery
Viburnum Tinus creates an ideal screen or hedge up to four metres high. It is a durable, small-leafed evergreen that has large shiny emerald leaves, small red berries, and little clusters of tiny pink buds that open out into fragrant white flowers. These plants can tolerate a wide range of soil types provided they are watered regularly. They enjoy milder conditions (not heavy frost), and a spring prune will help keep them compact and encourage new shoots.
4. Mock Orange (Murraya paniculata)
Image from Gardening Know How
Another one of the most popular hedging and screening plants across Australia, the Mock Orange grows up to four metres high. It is dense and fast-growing with dark green foliage, and it produces an abundance of orange-blossom-scented white flowers in summer and spring. Preferring sunny positions and warmer gardens with moist, rich, and well-drained soil, these plants are not frost-tolerant and may suffer damage as a result. It responds well to trimming and pruning.
5. Coastal Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa)
Image from Palm Place Nursery
Grown abundantly near the coast in eastern Australia, the Coastal Rosemary is a beautiful, low-growing compact plant that is ideal for hedges up to half a metre. With its grey foliage and small white flowers that have orange-to-purple spots on their bottom half, it provides a fantastic colour contrast when placed in front of other taller screening plants. It’s also a popular choice for gardeners because it’s amazingly resilient. It’s both frost and drought-tolerant—in fact, it is often found growing on cliffs next to the ocean!
It can handle a variety of soils and offers ongoing aesthetic beauty with its all-year flowering.
6. Kohuhu (Pittosporum Tenuifolium)
Image from Blerick Tree Farm
One of the more popular small evergreen screening trees, these are native to Australia and are available in varieties including Tasman Ruffles, Silver Sheen, James Stirling and Green Pillar. They can grow up to five metres in height and have a columnar shape that becomes oval with age. Because of its density, they are an ideal choice for a formal or informal hedge. They have small glossy green leaves with a touch of silver that contrast beautifully with their black bark and twigs. In spring, they produce small brown flowers that have a distinct honey scent.
They prefer full sun and well-drained soils, respond well to shaping and pruning, and can thrive in the majority of Australian gardens with little maintenance.
7. Ornamental Gold Bamboo (Alphonse Karr)
Image from Bamboo Down Under
Bamboos are hardy, tall and quick-growing, and are great low maintenance trees for privacy. However, it’s essential to choose a clumping bamboo as running varieties are hard to control and will spread quickly. The Alphonse Karr can be fully grown within 18 to 24 months to a height of around four metres. It has a naturally vase-shaped growth—narrow at the base and fanning out at the top. New shoots emerge as a reddish-pink colour that fades to beautiful gold and green-striped culms over a few months, with attractive bushy green foliage. It is low maintenance, drought-tolerant, thrives in cooler climates, and can be easily trimmed down in height if required.
Image from Gardening With Angus
In terms of privacy trees for backyards, this plant is well worth a place in your garden, particularly if you need to hide a structure or fence. There are three main species in Australia that can be found growing from Queensland to Tasmania. It prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position but flowers better in full sun. It also prefers well-drained soil and a frost-free site. Like many evergreen climbers, Hardenbergia has a tendency to grow up a fence or wall and “ball” at the top and be “leggy” below. For compact growth and an even coverage, it’s simply a matter of pruning after flowering.
The first, Hardenbergia violacea, is an Australian native also known as Purple Coral Pea, False Sarsaparilla, or Happy Wanderer. It is a hardy, woody-stemmed climber that has leathery dark green leaves and produces a mass of dark purple pea flowers in spring. There is also the Hardenbergia Rosea, which produces soft pink flowers, and the white-flowered Hardenbergia Alba.
Image from Gardening Know How
Photinias comprise a large family of small evergreen trees and shrubs and one of the more popular privacy trees for backyards. It has dense and rapid growth, and the various hybrids have unique features that make them ideal for a variety of garden settings. Part of the rose family, these plants produce large numbers of small white flowers in mid to late spring and apple-shaped red fruits (i.e. happy birds!)
Photinia has a reputation for easy-care hardiness and will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. They prefer full sun but can be grown in part-shade. However, there needs to be good air movement and plenty of space around them as they can be prone to fungal attack. Once they are established, they need minimal watering.
In terms of varieties, Photinia robusta is drought-resistant and grows up to 6 metres, so also works well as a windbreak. Photinia fraseri or “Red Robin” grows to around two metres high, and for a smaller more refined shrub, consider the Photinia glabra rubens.
10. Dwarf Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
Image from Pinterest
Also known as Little Gem Magnolia, this plant is a popular screening option that grows in most parts of Australia. It will grow up to 2.5 metres wide and four metres high provided it’s planted in full sun or part-shade, and in well-draining soil. With a dense growth habit, it has glossy leaves with a rich reddish-brown reverse and produces creamy white, perfumed flowers in summer and spring.
Little Gem is frost-tolerant once established and is relatively disease and insect-free.
11. Bottle Brush (Callistemon)
Image from Gardening Know How
Renowned for their hardiness, bottlebrushes are popular Australian natives that are great low maintenance trees for privacy, as they thrive in most areas and can grow up to 10 metres high. The best flowers can be obtained from plants that are grown in full sun. They form in summer and spring, and their filaments are usually red or yellow. They give the flower its distinctive bottlebrush shape, and flowers are irresistible to nectar-feeding insects and birds. Most species are very hardy and tolerate drought, frost and damp conditions. They also grow well in a variety of soils and can be lightly pruned after flowering to keep their shape.
12. Leighton Green (Cupressus leylandii)
Image from Eureka Nursery
Leighton Green is a hardy, evergreen and fast-growing conifer that is one of the more popular screening plants. It can also be trimmed into a hedge if you need to keep it at a smaller size. It is also used extensively on larger properties as a windbreak.
This plant has a pyramidal form, a very dense-forming habit and can grow to more than 15 metres high. It prefers well-drained soils but will tolerate nearly all soil types, and likes full sun or partly shaded areas. Frost-hardy and drought-tolerant once established, it prefers temperature to cold climates but also tolerates coastal regions and exposed positions. Prune two to three times a year to maintain the desired shape or size.
13. Orange Blossom (Murraya paniculata)
Image from Milk + Honey
Commonly known as Orange Jasmine or Mock Orange, this fast-growing plant can grow up to four metres high so is ideal for use as a screen or small hedge. It has dense growth, glossy green foliage, and produces beautifully perfumed white flowers in summer and spring. This plant loves sunny positions and rich, well-drained soils. Prune in spring and autumn for best results, and afterwards, water and fertilise to encourage future growth.
- 2019, The best plants for hedging and screening in Victoria, Allgreen Nursery and Garden
- 2020, 10 fast growing plants for privacy, Bunnings Warehouse
- 2020, The 5 best screen plants for privacy, Homes to Love
- 2020, Alphonse Karr – Small Ornamental Gold Bamboo, Bamboo Down Under
- 2005, Hardenbergia, ABC Gardening Australia
- 2020, Photinia, Green Life Ozbree
- 2016, Bottlebrush – genus Callistemon, Australian National Herbarium