No matter how friendly you are with your neighbours, you shouldn’t embarrass them by making them watch your outdoor activities. Privacy means walls, hedges or screens of some sort. Hedges are planted to define the boundaries of a property, to ensure privacy, to protect the house and garden from dust blowing in from the street, to reduce the force of wind or to act as a barrier for security reasons.

There are different types of hedges for different types of needs, your personal taste and your environment:  

The Formal Hedge

Rhagodia Hastata, Syzygium Paniculatum & Rhus Crenata (image compliments of

The best plants for formal hedges are those with fairly small leaves and which grow quite slowly. These hedges need regular trimming and to achieve a dense hedge, plant them 45cm – 60cm apart and in a straight row. Cutting back the top growth regularly at an early growth stage encourages basal branching.

Plants good for a formal hedge are: 

  • Syzygium paniculatum
  • Searsia/Rhus crenata
  • Portulacaria affra
  • Rhagodia hastata

The Informal Hedge

Abelia Grandiflora (stock image)

An informal hedge is made by planting a row of a single species of plants 1m – 1.2m apart. These hedges also need to be trimmed when young to ensure good basal growth. Thereafter, annual trimming to keep them from growing too high or wide is sufficient. Plants with flowers need to be trimmed after flowering. 

Plants which are well suited for an informal hedge are: 

  • Abelia grandiflora
  • Plumbago
  • Durantha
  • Carissa macrocarpa
  • Viburnum sinensis
  • Tecoma capensis


Syzygium Paniculatum (image compliments of

Screening is an arrangement of plants which conceal a part of the garden from view or to hide an ugly feature. The best plants for this purpose are normally those which are tall and slender.

Amongs others, these are good to use as screen plants: 

  • Buddleja saligna
  • Syzygium paniculatum
  • Viburnum sinensis
  • Populus simonii

Security Hedge

Bougainvillea (stock image)

This type of hedge fulfils a purpose other than that of merely providing privacy and delineating a boundary. It is to prevent people and animals from intruding on your property.

Plants to use for this purpose are those with strong spines or thorns such as:

  • Dovyalis caffra
  • Carissa macrocarpa
  • Bougainvillea


Carissa Macrocarpa (image compliments of

Coastal gardens are often subject to winds of varying intensity at different seasons of the year. For the same reason, gardening in some inland regions may be difficult too. Where strong winds prevail, the establishment of a windbreak becomes a matter of first priority in the garden. Plants chosen for a windbreak should be suited to local climatic conditions.

For coastal gardens in the Western Cape, the following plants are suitable:

  • Carissa macrocarpa
  • Buddleja saligna

When selecting plants for a hedge, screen, barrier or windbreak, be guided by the size of your garden. Using plants for the above purposes means giving them time to grow, but in the end it is worthwhile.

These plants are not only soft on the eye, beautiful and environmentally friendly, but you can also enjoy the fruits of some of them, i.e. those of Dovyalis Caffra and Syzygium Paniculatum is great for cooking jam.

Enjoy your plants and all of their benefits!

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