• Piet Stoker (PhD)

Screening solutions using trees & shrubs


We often get inquiries for indigenous trees that can be used for screening. In this article we share our ideas and insights into the matter.

Windbreak with Brachylaena discolor

The screening solution must speak to your situation and needs.

Please consider your needs in terms of three criteria as follows:

  • What you want to achieve with screening?

  • The size of your garden

  • Specific requirements that you may have for the screening trees

This article presents a structured approach, based on the above criteria, that leads to a recommended solution.

What do you want to achieve with screening?

Please note the symbol which best describes your objective:

A1 - Create a windbreak or micro-climate

A2 - Block the view from a neighbour's double story house

A3 - Block the view from the street or the neigbour's single story house.

A4 - Obscure an unsightly fence or view.

A5 - Improve the security of the property

The size of your garden?

Select the size symbol which best quantifies the size of your garden. Interpret this as the area available for the screening trees to grow, including their canopies.

LG - Large residential garden or small holding. Screening trees, when mature, will not interfere with the house or any other objects, implying that there is no limitation on their size.

SG - Small garden. Average residential property of say 800m2, with a house footprint of (say) 300m2, leaving about 500m2 garden. Available area for screening trees including their canopies is about 10m deep x 25m across (250m2)

VSG - Very small garden, as one would typically find in a townhouse complex. Garden space is 50m2 or less.

Specific requirements that you may have

We recommend a solution for your screening need based on the two criteria sets above. The solution lists a few tree species, each with its own attributes. We suggest that you study them to determine the extent to which they meet your specific requirements. The latter may include one or more of the following:

  • capable of withstanding minimum winter temperature, 0C/-2C/-6C

  • evergreen, semi-deciduous, deciduous

  • flowering, inconspicuous flowering, not flowering

  • attracts birds, does not attract birds

  • fast growing, medium growing, slow growing

  • formal appearance, informal appearance

  • no maintenance, low maintenance, high maintenance

We are now ready to identify the solution space

Refer to the table below. Find the symbol which identifies your need in the row space. Where this row intersects the column that best describes the area where you want to plant the trees, you will find a solution identifier. Follow the identifier in the list below to learn your tree species options.We also summarize each species main attributes. Click on "More" for additional information: price, description, link to scientific information, images, etc. (Unavailable link is denoted by "LTF" - Link To Follow)

Note we assumed that there is no requirement for windbreak in a very small garden. Neither is there a requirement for a "tree security fence". Hence the "-" in these cells.

WINDBREAK / MICRO-CLIMATE

Sol 1.1 Trees which tend to branch low and form dense canopies:

Brachylaena discolor. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Informal. No maintenance. (LTF)

Olea africana. -6C. Evergreen. Slow. Birds. Formal. No maintenance. More

Sol 1.2 Trees which tend to branch low and form dense canopies. They may require occasional pruning to keep their size in check:

Brachylaena discolor. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Informal. High maintenance.

Olea africana. -6C. Evergreen. Slow. Birds. Formal. No maintenance. More

HIGH SCREEN

Sol 2.1 Trees which tend to grow high; have long trunks; form dense canopies; and may grow tall:

Celtis africana. -6C. Deciduous. Medium. Birds. Formal, No maintenance. More

Ziziphus mucronata. -6C. Deciduous. Medium. Informal. Low maintenance. More

Ekebergia capensis. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Birds. Formal. Low maintenance. More

Schotia brachypetala. -2C. Semi-deciduous. Medium. Flowers. No maintenance. More

Trichelia emetica. 0C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Formal. No maintenance. More

Kirkia acumunata. 0C. Deciduous. Fast. Formal. No maintenance. More

Sol 2.2 Trees which tend to grow medium-high; have medium trunks; form dense canopies; and grow to medium size:

Searsia lancea. -6C. Evergreen. Medium. Informal. Low maintenance. More

Syzygium cordatum. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Birds. Flowers. Informal. Low maintenance. More

Harpephyllum caffrum. 0C. Evergreen. Fast. Birds. Formal. Low maintenance. More

Sol 2.3 Trees which tend to grow to medium height; have shortish trunks; form compact canopies; have non-aggressive roots; and grow to a medium size:

Combretum krausii. -2C, Semi-deciduous. Fast. Low maintenance. More

Noltea africana. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Low maintenance. (LTF)

Catha edulis. 0C. Semi-deciduous. Medium. Flowers. Informal. Low maintenance. More

Cunonia capensis. 0C, Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Formal. Low maintenance. More

LOW SCREEN

Sol 3.1 Trees which tend to branch low; have dense, spreading canopies; and may grow tall:

Olea africana. -6C. Evergreen. Slow. Birds. Formal. No maintenance. More

Leucosidea sericea. -6C. Evergreen. Fast. Informal. No maintenance. (LTF)

Peltophorum africana. -2C. Semi-deciduous. Medium. Flowers. Informal. No . maintenance. More

Ficus natalensis. 0C, Evergreen. Fast and aggressive grower. Birds. Informal. No . maintenance. (LTF)

Sol 3.2 Trees which tend to branch low; have dense, compact canopies; and grow to medium height:

Euclea crispa. -6C. Evergreen. Medium. Formal. No maintenance More

Buddleja saligna. -6C. Evergreen. Medium. Informal. No maintenance More

Dodonaea viscosa. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Semi-formal. Flowers/fruit. No maintenance. . (LTF)

Searsia leptodicta. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Informal. Birds. No maintenance. (LTF)

Sol 3.3 Trees/shrubs which tend to branch low; have dense, compact canopies; have non- aggressive roots and grow to a small size:

Freylinia tropica. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Informal. No maintenance. (LTF

Vangueria infausta. -2C. Semi-deciduous.Medium. Fruit. Formal. No maintenance. (LTF)

Gardenia volkensii -2C. Deciduous. Slow. Flowers/Fruit. Formal. No maintenance. (LTF)

Diospyros whyteana. -2C. Evergreen. Medium. Informal.Flowers/fruit. No maintenance. More

OBSCURE UNSIGHTLY VIEW

Sol 4.1 Trees which tend to branch low; have dense, spreading canopies; grow to medium size; and have a noteworthy feature

Rhamnus prinoides. -6C. Evergreen. Medium. Informal. Birds. Leaves No maintenance . (LTF)

Dodonaea viscosa. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Semi-formal. Flowers/fruit. No maintenance. . (LTF)

Bauhinia galpinii. 0C. Evergreen. Fast. Informal. Birds. Flowers. No maintenance (LTF)

Croton gratissimus. 0C. Semi-deciduous. Fast. Informal, Leaves. No maintenance. (LTF)

Sol 4.2 Trees which tend to branch low; have dense, compact canopies; grow to a small size and have a noteworthy feature:

Carissa macrocarpa. -2C. Evergreen. Medium. Semi-formal. Flowers/fruit. Birds. Low . maintenance. More

Ehretia rigida. -2C. Semi-deciduous. Medium. Informal. Flowers/Fruit. Low maintenance. . (LTF)

Sol 4.3 Trees which tend to branch low; have dense, compact canopies; grow to a small size; have non-aggressive roots; and have a noteworthy feature

Cassinopsis ilicifolia. -2C. Evergreen. Medium. Semi-formal. Fruit. Low maintenance. More

Diospyros whyteana. -2C. Evergreen. Medium. Informal. Fruit. Low maintenance. More

Halleria lucida. -2C. Evergreen Fast. Informal. Birds Flowers. Low maintenance. More

Polygala myrtifolia. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Informal. Flowers. Low maintenance. (LTF)

Freylinia tropica. -2C. Evergreen. Fast. Flowers. Informal. No maintenance. (LTF)

Carissa bispinosa. 0C. Evergreen. Slow. Formal. Low maintenance. (LTF)

FREYLINIA TROPICA. Use it in a small garden to hide an unsightly fence or view

SECURITY BARRIER

Sol 5.1 Trees which tend to branch low with very dense canopies and nasty thorns. They are aggressive growers.

Dichrostachys cinerea. -2C. Deciduous. Fast and aggressive grower. Informal. Flowers. High . maintenance. More

Senegalia mellifera. -2C. Deciduous. Fast. Informal. Flowers. Low maintenance. (LTF)

Sol 5.2 Trees which tend to branch low with very dense canopies and nasty thorns. They are NOT aggressive growers.

Dovyalis caffra. -6C. Semi-deciduous. Slow. Informal. Low maintenance. (LTF)

Carissa macrocarpa. -2C. Evergreen. Medium. Semi-formal. Flowers/fruit. Birds. Low . maintenance. More

Joyful gardening!

#choosetherighttree #Screening

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