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trees for screens

Small Trees for Screens and Hedges

Use the following small trees for screens or to create large hedges.

White pear (Apodytes dimidiata)

The white pear is first on our list of trees for screens. It is a very glamorous and neat little tree, and also one of our protected indigenous tree species.

Features
Evergreen with dense, glossy bright to dark green foliage
Loose heads of sweetly scented white flowers in September to April
Fruit is a black flattened drupe with a red fleshy appendage
Non-aggressive root system.

Cultivation
Protect young plants against frost for the first year
Growth rate is about 700mm per year.

Yellow bauhinia (Bauhinia tomentosa)

It is said that the yellow bauhinia also loves to grow in a large pot on the patio but it is also lovely as a tree for screens.

Features
Long, straight branches and simple two-lobed, deeply divided leaves resembling butterfly wings
Yellow flowers with a deep purple blotch at the base of one or more petals in November to April, followed by thin fruit pods
Can be planted close to pool or paving, and perfect for screening as well.

Cultivation
Fast grower – up to 900mm per year
Very floriferous, and more flowers can be stimulated by pruning in winter
Can withstand light frost and uses a medium amount water.

False olive (Buddleja saligna)

The false olive is so versatile – you can even prune it into very formal topiary trees.

Features
Evergreen
Fissured bark that flakes in long pieces
Twisted stems with narrow leaves that are dark green on the upper side and light grey to white on the flipside
Masses of small white flowers attract butterflies and bees.

Cultivation
Fast growing, up to 800mm per year
Very drought and frost resistant.

Pompom tree (Dais cotinifolia)

Possibly one of the prettiest flowering indigenous trees for screens that is suitable for every garden. It can be trained into a neat standard too.

Features
Grey bark that tears in long strips, and which is often used as rope
Light green leaves in opposite pairs
Pink to mauve flowers in dense spherical heads.

Cultivation
Fast grower, up to 1m per year
Flowers while still young
Withstands moderate frost
Needs regular watering.

Wild laburnum (Calpurnia aurea)

No other laburnum in the world can hold a candle to our very own wild laburnum when it is in flower.

Features
Evergreen with an open, rounded crown
Compound, drooping, light green leaves
Golden yellow, pea-like flowers in long terminal sprays in December to February, followed by papery fruit pods
The neat growth habit makes it suitable as a specimen tree and focal point as well.

Cultivation
Fast grower, up to 1m per year
Withstands light frost but must be protected in the first year
Can survive long periods of drought.

Kei apple (Dovyalis caffra)

A thorny number to discourage unwanted yard guests, and you can make delicious jam from the fruit apart from using this tree for screens.

Features
Evergreen tree with a dense and muchbranched crown
Old bark is corky and fissured, and young branches are armed with long spines
Dark green leaves with a waxy lustre and prominent veins
Male and female creamish-green flowers appear on separate trees from November to January
The fruit is orange, velvety and fleshy, and very popular with birds.

Cultivation
Moderate growth rate of up to 600mm per year
Fruits after three years
Very drought resistant and can tolerate light frost
Perfect for full sun and light shade
Tolerates coastal wind and salt spray.

Crossberry (Grewia occidentalis var. occidentalis)

You can boil the dried fruit in milk for an indigenous super milkshake, or use the ripe fruit to make beer. Birds love the fruit too.

Features
Evergreen to semi-deciduous tree with an open but tangled and spreading crown
Glossy leaves and very pretty pink to mauve flowers with yellow stamens from October to January, followed by fourlobed fruit
Can be planted in a wide variety of habitats from arid and dry to wet and humid.

Cultivation
Growth rate is fast at first, up to 1.5m per year, but after a few years slows down to 1m
Grows in full sun or shade
Survives several degrees of frost
Drought resistant.

Wild peach (Kiggelaria africana)

When in fruit these trees become alive with birds feasting on the red sticky seeds or on the larvae of the Acraea butterflies that use it as a host plant, this makes it a superb tree for screens.

Features
Semi-deciduous to evergreen
Light green, simple leaves with a velvety underside
Male and female yellowish green flowers on separate trees
Fruit is a warty capsule splitting to reveal black seeds with an oily, reddish-orange flesh.

Cultivation
Fast growth rate of up to 1.3m per year
Frost-hardy and can tolerate low temperatures
Moderately drought resistant.

Cork bush (Mundulea sericea)

If you want to stun or kill fish, use the pounded roots, bark leaves and seeds thrown into a bag, and then thrown into the water. Otherwise use Cork Bush trees for screens.

Features
Evergreen to semi-deciduous
Thick, corky bark
Leaves covered with silvery, silky hairs
Beautiful pea-shaped mauve flowers from October to February.

Cultivation
Moderate growth rate of 0.5 – 1m per year
Well-drained soil and full sun is needed
Very hardy, not affected by drought or frost.

Small trees also work well when creating a mini woodland in your garden. Read about it here.