Hedge and screen plants are usually planted relatively closely together, so take the opportunity to prepare the soil as thoroughly as possible beforehand. Start by checking the drainage. If the soil is heavy and is likely to remain waterlogged in wet periods, build raised mounds that run the full length of the proposed hedge. Mixing Gypsum into clay soil can help improve drainage. A layer of gravel or coarse sand below the root level will also carry away excess water.
Dig plenty of old organic matter and some gentle, slow release Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser pellets into the soil. The latter will provide non-burning nutrients that promote root growth.
Choose your hedge plants carefully. Drive around and see what does well in your area and, if possible, talk to hedge owners to get their opinions. Look for missing ‘teeth’ – the holes that appear when one plant in a line has died and has left a gap. It’s often better to go with a common variety that you know will work, rather than to select something unusual that may cause problems.
Good watering and feeding of your hedge are critically important. Mix some pre-swollen Waterwise Water Storage Crystals into the soil together with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser before planting. A few times a year add Waterwise Soil Saturator to the root area (this can be watered or sprinkled above ground). Installing a watering system with mini sprinklers or drippers at each plant will also be a good idea. Feed two or three times during the growing season with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser pellets, and mulch over the root area with an organic layer.
Sasanqua camellias will grow in sun or shade and cope with reasonably cold conditions. They also come in various sizes.
Buxus (buxus spp)
Buxus is probably the best known of all hedge plants. Its small leaf gives it an advantage over most plants because it can create a formal, tight hedge. It is more of a decorative than functional hedge. Generally it is slow-growing and not known for its screening ability. Usually you will see this has a driveway or garden bed boundary and it doesn’t dominate the landscape.
The Lilly Pilly is a wonderful variety and very common. There are many varieties available on the market and they can either be kept to 1mtr or 10mtr, like the Acmena Smithii “Goodbye Neighbours”. The Syzygium and Acmena species have cherry red to copper coloured new growth.
Our tip: look for a variety that is “psyllid-free”. The psyllid typically won’t kill your Lilly Pilly hedge but up close it certainly won’t look very healthy. Watch also for wax scale that can attack the branches of your plants.
Murrayas are a great alternative to the Box hedge if you’re after a taller hedge with the Box look. They produce flowers in Summer (and spot flowering throughout the year). They’re not stunning flowers to look at in the tradition of the Camellia, but the sweet orange blossom scent of the blooms is a fantastic attribute to experience.