Screening can create attractive garden rooms, add more defined spaces to outdoor living areas and make your home more private. Screening also hides unappealing elements, such as air-conditioning units, clothes linesor garden sheds. However, screening outdoor areas is a delicate balancing act. You want togenerate privacy and separate specific areas, but still capture breezes and scenic views all without unnecessarily closing in spaces.
FORM AND FUNCTION OF OUTDOOR SCREEN
There is a diverse range of garden screening solutions. Some will filter views; others will block them altogether. Some screens are comprised of simple timber slats; others are of metal and feature highly decorative laser-cut patterns, such as the designer screening range from Entanglements.
When choosing screening for your outdoor spaces, the key, according to those in theknow, is to achieve consistency and continuity.
Look at the aesthetics of what you already have and what you plan to do, will vertical or horizontal lines in your screening work with your pavers or style of garden? Will the materials used complement existing features such as decking? Doing your homework can save a lot of heartache in the long run. Some types of screening, such as traditional hardwood screens, will require ongoing maintenance so you have to ask yourself, are you prepared to put the time in to keep them looking great?
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Screening can divide open-plan spaces to create beautiful rooms. The panels can be fixed or freestanding — the latter allows you to move them to make the most of seasonal elements or when you want to change the look of your outdoor spaces.
For a contemporary look, there are steel, aluminium and wood-composite screening panels you can use to divide and define various garden areas. When you want something ornamental, look for metal or pressed hardwood screens featuring laser-cut patterns. When portability is important, there are folding screens that will shield you from the sun and create a cosy nook. Natural timber screening looks fabulous and designers are creating bold new looks. Spotted gum posts placed vertically and fixed at the base at varying heights create an interesting staggered look. For complete privacy, rendered walls offer the ultimate in seclusion. If you want to soften the architectural planes of the wall, add a stylish water feature or pots brimming with colour.
SCREENS OF GREEN
Of course, what better option is there than a living green screen? The canopies of small to medium trees or a row of hedging plants can make the perfect screen. Before you plant, think about the cultivation aspects — you need to have the right soil and position for the plant’s specific needs. Plant a sun-loving plant in shade and it can become leggy and sparse, making it unsuitable for a hedge. You also need relatively fast growing plants that don’t have intrusive root systems.
There are some Pittosporum varieties and some lilly pilly varieties that suit taller hedges. For smaller (1.5m) hedges, box-leaved privet works well and for flowering hedges, try Camellia sasanqua. Non-clumping bamboo is a popular screening choice, especially in narrow spaces (such as down the side of the house), urban settings and gardens of Asian or tropical design.
Bamboo pole screens are a popular option.These will gently wear to blend in with the earthy look of a garden and they work particularly well in Balinese-, tropical- and resort-style gardens. Bamboo screens can hide bins, utility areas and pool equipment.
They can act as a backdrop for a work of art or fountain or they can be used as privacy barriers. And if you want to dress up a dull fence, just attach bamboo panels.
To vary the look, the screens can be installed with the poles running in a vertical position or on the horizontal — or a mix of both. Screening panels are available in various widths and heights; also various colours depending on the bamboo used and the finishing coat of lacquer.
Bamboo screens are eco-friendly and, in many cases, harder than wood. Because of this, the screens can withstand the effects of weather exposure and they are termite- resistant, which is a big plus. If you like a natural look, reed screening is another good choice for native, rustic or tropical style
gardens. It can be used as a standalone or built-in screen, or as cladding.
THE ARTISTIC TOUCH
Can’t decide on the style of screen you like?
Tap into your artistic self and get those creative juices flowing. A shabby door in need of a lick of paint, a rustic mirror recovered from a recycling centre, or an old window frame can all make beautiful and unusual screens. So, too, can old aluminium screen doors or wrought iron balustrades.
Branches can be stacked and ‘woven’ between uprights to form a natural and very eclectic screen or leaves collected between vertical panels of fine wire mesh. Or water running between two framed glass panels can make for a stunning water feature that can double as a decorative screen.
And be artistic in how you use your screens.
You might like to place screens so that all your garden’s wonders aren’t revealed at once. If people sense something is “hiding around the corner” it will entice them further into your garden. Screens can also be used to create children’s play areas, they can be used as decorative climbing frames for plants and they can be attached to walls like a piece of art.
The strength of steel is one of its most appealing traits for use as outdoor screening. Able to withstand the harshness of outside conditions, steel is non-combustible and termite-proof, guaranteeing the screen’s staying power.
Steel screens make an excellent artistic statement, work well as trellises for climbing plants or garden walls, and can be used to disguise functional garden spaces such as utility areas.
Modern laser-cutting techniques allow steel to be manipulated into patterns in a variety of appealing designs, or you can have custom-made panels that reflect your individual flair. There are a number of finishes that can be applied to steel to achieve the desired decorative effect, including powder-coating and painting. One of the most popular contemporary choices for steel panels is Corten steel, which has a rust-like patina.
Also read: Lets go with the flow with a Water feature.