Ask a question

The Bunnings Workshop community can help with your home improvement projects.

How to choose a screening plant

Workshop Legend

Hero Image Test Blog (59).png


Whether you want to create privacy in your backyard, hide an ugly fence or enliven a boring garden shed, screening plants can make a great addition to your garden.

Here is our guide to choosing a screening plant that is perfect for your needs. Let us know if you have any questions, and we’d be happy to assist.

Common uses of screening plants

There are many reasons to grow screening plants. Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step towards choosing the right one for your needs. 


Screening plants are commonly used to: 

A green textured screen created by clumping bambooA green textured screen created by clumping bamboo


  • Create privacy, shielding outdoor spaces from nosy neighbours or busy roads

  • Block unsightly views such as rubbish bins

  • Decorate or enliven boring walls or fences by providing coverage

  • Reduce the impact of prevailing winds

  • Filter harsh sunlight

  • Create clear divisions between garden rooms or beds.

Screens versus hedges


Screening plants can be used to form hedges or create screens. They can also provide coverage to an existing surface, like a wall. It's key to understand the differences between screens and hedges and know which one is best suited for your needs.


A hedge is a continuous row of plants selectively trimmed to divide or define garden areas. You can find tall hedges that grow to approximately ten metres in height. There are also petite versions available, commonly used as border plantings or backdrops for a garden bed. Hedges are normally very dense and are able to block views. They are mostly uniform in height and width.


We recommend checking out this article on how to choose a hedging plant for more details on selecting the right hedging plant for your needs.


Compared to hedges, screens are generally less dense and more open. They are not always planted in a continuous row. Instead, screens may comprise one or two plants carefully positioned to hide a particular item, like a garden shed. They can also draw attention to a particular feature, like roses or clematis draped over a trellis fence. 


All hedges are screens but not all screens are hedges.

What to consider when choosing a screening plant


Once you have determined why you want to grow screening plants, think about the conditions you're growing the plants in and the type of plants best suited for them. Here are some questions to get you started:


How wide is your planting area?

Select those varieties that will fit your spaces easily. For narrower spaces, make sure your selected screening plant is also easy to trim.

What level of screening do you require?

For a denser look, select plants that have smaller foliage. Pruning generally improves density, so select varieties that respond well to pruning.

What are the growing conditions like?

Be aware of the amount of sun your screen will get and the type of soil your plants will be growing in. Select your plants accordingly.

What is the maximum height you need?

Select screening plants that are at least 25% taller than the actual height you require. This will get you good coverage faster. For example, if you want your screening plants to grow three metres tall, choose those varieties that grow to approximately five metres or so. The only exception to this would be clumping bamboos, who are known for their rapid growth.

Types of climbers commonly used for screening


Climbers are great for screening. However, they require support for growing, like fence extensions or posts. For more information on understanding climbers and how to train them, check out this article on how to create privacy by planting.


Here are some common types of climbers and a summary of their characteristics:


Pandorea (Pandorea jasminoides and Pandorea pandorana) 

Pandorea puts on an amazing flowering displayPandorea puts on an amazing flowering display

This is a native twining climber with glossy foliage and colourful flowers. It is a great screening option for use over wire fences and trellises. Pandorea grows well under the sun and can tolerate moderate shade.


Orange trumpet creeper (Pyrostegia venusta)

With handsome foliage that tends to drape as it climbs, this tendril climber is known for its winter flowering display. Streams of vibrant orange flowers cover the plant in the cooler months. It is excellent at retaining foliage cover due to its cascading foliage habit.


Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminiodes)

This attractive twining climber performs well in sun and shade and rewards you with many white flowers in spring and summer. These are heavily perfumed. Note that some varieties have variegated or otherwise patterned leaves. These tend to grow slowly. 


Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea species and cultivars)
Bougainvillea are great for colourful screensBougainvillea are great for colourful screens

If you need a bigger plant and want a bold flowering option, then go for Bougainvillea. Technically, these are not climbers. They are scramblers that need to be trained until they become self-supporting. Note that many Bougainvillea flowers do have thorns that are used for climbing.


Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis cultivars)

This is a great option if you want coverage and fruit. Passionfruit also has glossy foliage and grows beautiful flowers that smell great. These plants are tendril climbers that grow well under the sun.

Shrubs or small trees commonly used for screening


Large shrubs or small trees are great alternatives to climbers. Below are some reliable choices that make good screening options:


Lilly Pilly (Acmena or Syzygium species and cultivars) 

Lily pillies can flower abundantlyLily pillies can flower abundantly

These natives are robust and grow quickly. Most can be pruned easily, so they are a great choice for hedges too. Lilly Pilly has glossy green foliage that bursts with colour when flowers bloom. Flowers are typically followed by edible fruit, so they are also a great way to attract native wildlife. 


Pittosporums (Pittosporum tenuifolium varieties)

Ideal for narrower areas, many Pittosporums grow upright. Compared to Lilly Pillies, they have smaller foliage, and are typically round or oval-shaped. Varieties like Silver Sheen have a striking silvery appearance.


Camellia sasanqua varieties

With their glossy green foliage and gorgeous winter flowering display, sasanquas make a fantastic screening choice. They take to pruning very well and can also be trained to form a dense hedge. Make sure you select varieties that will reach your desired height.

Camellia sasanqua bring welcome winter colourCamellia sasanqua bring welcome winter colour


Murraya paniculata or orange jessamine

This is another native that makes an excellent screening plant. It has lush foliage and fragrant white flowers that grow throughout the year. When left unpruned, it grows to a vase-shaped shrub. It is also a great option for a dense hedge.


Clumping Bamboo 

These plants are perfect for fast coverage. Their tops can be easily trimmed if they grow too high. Bambusa heterostachya or Dwarf Malay is a popular variety that can grow to a height of approximately four metres. Check out our guide on how to select and grow clumping bamboo for more information on these plants.

Tips for growing screening plants


Here are some things to keep in mind when growing screening plants: 


Taller plants may require temporary staking

This is especially relevant for those in windier locations. Always use at least two stakes per plant. Don’t bind a plant too tightly as it needs to be able to move a little. You can remove ties and stakes once the plant is showing signs of strong, new growth.

Don't overplant

Overplanting may get you faster and greater coverage for your screen. However, it can also cause plants to aggressively compete for root space, water and nutrients. This may lead to patchy growth and poor plant health in the long run.

Bigger isn’t always better

Bigger plants may look more appealing. However, they are generally more expensive and can take longer to get established. Look for more budget-friendly and smaller sizes. They generally catch up to larger sizes in approximately six months or so, especially if looked after well. 

Keep the labels

When replacing a dead plant, it always helps if you have its label handy. Labels can help you recall the type of plant you're replacing. You can also use the information on the label to choose a better alternative that suits your conditions. 

More tips on choosing and growing plants


The Bunnings Workshop community team has shared several other resources on selecting different types of plants and maintaining a healthy garden. These include: 



More inspiration for your garden 

Check out the top 10 most popular garden makeovers shared on Bunnings Workshop, as well as our top 10 most popular screening projects for some inspiring ideas.


Other great projects shared by Bunnings Workshop community members include:



Need more help with choosing a screening plant?


The Bunnings Workshop community is here to assist if you need a hand in selecting screening plants. Don't hesitate to hit the Start a discussion button and let us know your needs.


Sponsored Post


2 Replies

Why join the Bunnings Workshop community?

Workshop is a friendly place to learn, get ideas and find inspiration for your home improvement projects