The Best Low Maintenance Hedge Plants (Australia)

Popular low maintenance hedge plants include Murraya, Photinia, Lilly Pilly, and Sweet Viburnum.

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Hedges are excellent for privacy, defining the boundary of your property, and can even be used to create different ‘garden rooms’ in your yard.

A hedge does take a little time to establish, so the plants you choose should reflect how quickly you want the hedge to grow and how often you want to trim it.

Although there are a variety of great low-maintenance hedge plants that you can select from, bear in mind that all hedges do require some maintenance because they have to be trimmed on a regular basis to keep their shape.

Here’s a selection of our top picks for low-maintenance hedge plants to grow in Australia:

Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata)

Murrayas are popular hedging plants, especially in warmer climates.

In addition to their lovely green foliage, they also produce gorgeous white flowers in spring, summer, and autumn. These plants have a lovely citrusy fragrance. 

For a tall hedge, murrayas will easily grow to a height of around 2 to 3 metres and can be well-maintained at this height.

However, if you want to grow a much lower hedge, there are also dwarf varieties available that will work equally as well.

To get a nice dense hedge, you want to space the plants around 50 cm to 1 metre apart.

Remember to keep the plants watered well until they become fully established.

Fertiliser should be applied in early spring and again in autumn to keep your plants nice and lush.

Pros

  • A lovely dense hedge with the added advantage of lovely citrus-scented flowers.
  • Suitable for most climates but needs extra water during hot and dry conditions and protection from frosts.
  • Adaptable to different soil types but does require good drainage.
  • Non-toxic to humans or animals.
  • The berries are attractive to birds, while bees and butterflies love the flowers.

Cons

  • Takes around 3 to 4 years to grow to full height.
  • Needs light pruning 3 or 4 times a year in spring, summer and autumn.
  • Not frost-tolerant.

Photinia ‘Red Robin’

Wouter Hagens I Wikimedia

In southern parts of the country, photinia is a very popular hedging plant.

It not only lends itself to creating a lovely, dense hedge but also adds a little extra colour to your garden with its attractive new red growth. 

With photinia, you can easily grow a tall hedge that reaches a height of 3 to 4 metres.

Space the plants about 60 cm to 80 cm apart to ensure good dense coverage. 

You only need to fertilise once in spring with a slow-release fertiliser. 

Pros

  • A fast grower that will put on 30 cm of growth every year.
  • Has lovely glossy green leaves and dark red new growth.
  • Drought-tolerant.
  • Will respond to heavy pruning to get them back in shape.

Cons

  • The small white flowers have an unpleasant fragrance but winter pruning should inhibit flower growth.
  • Needs to be trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks during active growth.

Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum)

David Stang I Wikimedia I CC 4.0

Sweet viburnum is another popular hedging plant, especially for gardeners in temperate, coastal, and subtropical climates.

It produces large glossy green leaves and small fragrant white flowers.

It’s ideal for large hedges and can grow to a height of around 3 to 4 metres.

Plants should be spaced around 1 metre apart as they can easily spread to around 2 to 3 metres in width.

Fertilise with a slow-release fertiliser in spring.

Pros

  • A fast-growing hedging plant with glossy green leaves and scented flowers.
  • It can grow from 30 to 60 cm every year.
  • The flowers are attractive to bees.
  • Can adapt to most soil types.
  • Can be lightly trimmed all year round.

Cons

  • Needs to be watered twice a week while the plants are young.
  • Can be toxic to dogs.

Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii)

Lilly pillies are great low-maintenance Australian native plants that are perfect for hedging.

They are more suitable for areas with a more temperate climate.

However, if you protect them from frosts while young, they can be grown successfully in southern areas as well.

Not only do Lilly pillies have attractive foliage with lovely new red growth but they also produce edible fruits that are quite popular for making into jams. Of course, the birds love these fruits too.

Lilly pillies can grow into large trees reaching a height of around 6 metres.

However, they are quite happy to be trimmed and pruned to a more suitable height.

Space your hedge plants around 1 metre apart to get a nice dense hedge.

Fertilise with a slow-release fertiliser once a year in spring.

Pros

  • A lovely Australian native with glossy green foliage and edible fruits.
  • Only needs to be pruned once a year but light pruning can be done any time.
  • Drought-resistant when fully established.
  • Can be pruned into topiary shapes.
  • Not toxic to dogs.
  • Can be grown in part-shade.

Cons

  • May need some frost protection while young.
  • Plants will usually take around 3 to 5 years to reach maturity.

Coastal Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa)

Drew Avery I Flickr I CC 2.0

For people who garden in coastal areas, Westringia fruticosa is a great choice for a low-maintenance hedging plant. It has lovely grey-green foliage and small white or lavender flowers.

It prefers well-drained soil and needs to be kept watered while young.

Plants should be spaced around 50 cm apart to get good coverage for your hedge.

Coastal Rosemary only needs to be fed once a year with a slow-release fertiliser in spring.

Pros

  • A lovely rounded plant with soft grey foliage and pretty white or purple flowers.
  • Great for coastal gardens.

Cons

  • The plants don’t respond well to a hard prune.
  • Only tip pruning of the soft growth is recommended.

Japanese Box (Buxus microphylla japonica)

Agnieszka Kwiecień I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

Many gardeners will be familiar with the common box hedges that are found all over the world.

However, for Australian conditions, the Japanese Box is much more suitable as it can handle warmer temperatures. 

This plant has small green leaves that are quite glossy. It lends itself really well to hedging and also shaping into topiaries.

Plants should be spaced around 60 to 90 cm apart for a nice dense hedge.

Feed the plants with a slow-release fertiliser in spring and autumn.

Pros

  • Lovely dense growth with small glossy green leaves.
  • Easy to shape.
  • Suitable for all climates.

Cons

  • Needs constant light pruning from spring through to early autumn.
  • Young plants need to be pruned regularly to ensure dense growth.

Mock Orange (Pittosporum)

Pittosporum ‘Silver Sheen’ by Nadiatalent I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 4.0

You’ll find pittosporum commonly grown as a hedging plant, especially for screening in between properties.

This fast-growing plant can reach tremendous heights up to 4+ metres.

To keep it under control, it needs to be pruned at least twice a year due to its fast growth.

However, other than regular pruning, this plant requires very little else to keep it growing well.

You might want to apply a slow-release fertiliser once a year in spring to keep it nice and green. 

Space plants around 1 metre apart when growing as a hedge.

Pros

  • Excellent screening plant with a fast growth habit.
  • Will respond well to hard pruning.

Cons

  • Needs regular pruning at least a couple of times a year to maintain a manageable height.

RELATED: Like native plants? Check out our guide on how to use Grevilleas for hedging in Australia.

FAQ

What is the easiest hedge to maintain?

Low maintenance hedge plants in Australia include Orange Jasmine, Photinia ‘Red Robin’, Lilly Pilly, and Coastal Rosemary.

What is the fastest growing hedge for privacy?

Neighbours Be Gone (Syzgium paniculata) is a fast-growing screening plant that can be grown in containers or directly in the soil. It is also known as Backyard Bliss and is a type of Lilly Pilly native to New South Wales and Queensland.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture. She has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She also had the responsibility of a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.