Last Updated on May 29, 2022
Plants can help you create privacy in your backyard, block out noise, and even deter your nosy neighbor. While you can always install a fence in your outdoor space, planting fast-growing shrubs or tall plants is a beautiful way to divide sections of the garden from prying eyes!
Privacy plants come in an array of shapes and sizes, from tall or dense greenery to strategic decorative privacy screens. When combined with a varied color palette, your outdoor space becomes a private sanctuary.
This article will go over how to use plants and trees to create privacy in an outdoor space. Our plant recommendations include the type of soil and whether the plants should be in the shade or the sun. We also go into the pros and cons of each plant before answering your questions.
If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks for the best privacy plants:
- Privet (Ligustrum)
- Skip laurel
- Japanese Holly
- Red Twig Dogwood
Table of Contents
- How to Use Plants to Create a Privacy Screen in Your Garden
- The Best Plants for Privacy
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Conventional ways for creating privacy, such as strategic planting, can be incredibly effective. Always begin by determining where you need seclusion the most, then explore temporary and permanent options to fit your needs and budget.
If you want to create the perception of privacy in your garden, the first thing to consider is sightlines. Determine the various locations in your garden where any onlookers can see you from.
Don’t make the mistake of transforming your garden into a fortress, surrounding it with dense plants. This might result in a garden that is dreary and unattractive. A few well-placed plants can be significantly more effective than a fence or screens.
Plants can provide a variety of alternatives, whether you want seclusion from the sides or screening from windows that look down on your property from a higher level.
How much natural light does your outside space get daily? Understanding your lighting conditions is the most vital aspect of any planting attempt. It’s critical to determine how much sun the area receives before deciding which plants can thrive there.
Read up on your selections before you go to the garden center. Research the plant names for privacy screening on the internet or ask at the nursery. Inquire about the plants that have thrived or failed in your climate recently.
Also, read the plant tag and descriptions to learn about the plant’s light and water requirements, as well as its mature height and breadth. It’s a waste of effort and money to place a plant that requires full sun in complete shade.
If you don’t check on it before buying, that quart-sized pot may quickly grow to be too large for your space, becoming a maintenance headache.
Pro tip: Make sure perennials, shrubs, and trees in your USDA Hardiness zone are hardy enough to withstand freezing winters.
You can plant a formal hedge for privacy or a more traditional look; however, hedges require significant maintenance. Know ahead of time that if you pick anything like Boxwood shrubs to shear into form, how much upkeep will be necessary.
If you’re searching for low-maintenance plants, consider alternative, more freeform hedges. For example, skip laurels and Japanese Cedars grow quickly and have superb texture while requiring little or no upkeep.
Planting a single variety of tree or shrub in a long, straight line, such as green giant arborvitae, may rapidly provide you with privacy. However, you may also be setting yourself up for future problems if you do so.
Disease, devastation by animals such as deer, or natural disasters might cause the singular variety of trees to fall ill, resulting in the complete loss of the privacy screen.
Instead, a variety of plants will mix things up a little. Also choose a range of heights, textures, and colors for a visually appealing aesthetic that you can appreciate. Layer tiny shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials in front of bigger trees or bushes.
You should repeat plants to make the layout look integrated and structured, rather than chaotic. Use odd numbers of the same plant and incorporate plants that bloom at different times of the year as a landscaping technique.
Deciduous trees and flowering shrubs give year-round interest, while evergreens provide year-round color.
While exploring your garden area, the first thing you should consider is working within its confines. You can achieve a private space in your garden or backyard by using symmetry, balance, and proportion.
You also need to decide how much time you want to spend cutting and maintaining your plants to achieve perfectly sculpted hedges. Hedges such as formal boxwoods require more attention than viburnums, which have a more informal, natural appearance.
Before you put anything in the ground:
- Lay everything out in your yard.
- Stage it and rearrange the plants to create the design you want.
- Rearrange the heights, curves, and lines of the plants.
- View your design from different angles in your yard, such as the patio or inside the house.
Remember to give your plants plenty of water after planting and on a pretty regular basis, especially if it hasn’t rained in a few days.
Perennials, shrubs, and trees require water to build their root systems during the first year. In addition, mulch new plantings 2 to 3 inches deep to keep weeds at bay, retain moisture, prevent erosion, and regulate soil temperature.
Mulch shouldn’t be piled against a plant’s stem or trunk or it can attract disease and pests.
Soil Requirements: Moist, well-drained soil
Sun / Shade: Full sun or even partial shade
Arborvitae trees and shrubs are popular among homeowners who prefer them over traditional privacy plants. Arborvitae has dense, dark green foliage to create an effective natural privacy screen and should be spaced out appropriately. You can plant a thicket of arborvitae if there isn’t much space between your property and your neighbors’.
The thick evergreen foliage creates a bushy hedge when the trees are sufficiently spaced. It also thrives in a wide range of soil conditions and can withstand extremely low temperatures. Depending on your needs and available space, you may select from a variety of options.
Adequate spacing results in a dense hedge that serves as a living wall. Its thick foliage can also be pruned to form different shapes.
Most arborvitae is dark green, but certain varieties produce a lovely golden yellow hue in the fall and winter. Color-changing varieties are available if you wish to add a splash of color to your yard.
Arborvitae is a slow-growing tree that develops to be quite tall. This evergreen tree can withstand the cold fairly well. On the other hand, Arborvitae is a thirsty plant, so water it thoroughly throughout the dry season.
- There are nineteen arborvitae tree and shrub kinds to select from.
- Can withstand extreme weather conditions.
- Provides exceptional privacy.
- A disease in one tree can spread to all trees.
- Prone to winter burn.
- During the winter, the wind and sun can dry up the leaves.
- In the winter, browsing deer can cause significant harm. The only arborvitae that is not deer resistant is the emerald green arborvitae.
Soil Requirements: Moderately acid to slightly alkaline soil
Sun / Shade: Full sun or even partial shade
The Privet tree is a fast-growing tree that provides exceptional privacy and boosts curb appeal. With the appropriate care, it can reach a height of two or three feet every year. You can easily create a living wall within a few years that will keep prying eyes away.
Privet is commonly used to grow as a privacy hedge but requires regular pruning. However, the extra effort pays off in the spring when the plants produce an abundance of sweet-smelling white blooms.
- Versatile enough to be a living wall or living fence
- 50 privet species, available as semi-evergreen, evergreen, or deciduous shrubs.
- Is considered invasive in certain states.
- Requires regular pruning
Soil Requirements: Deep, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soils
Sun / Shade: Full sun
Bamboo is the ultimate plant for creating an atmosphere of privacy. It’s easy to cultivate tall hedges, spreads fast like weeds, and improves the appearance of your outdoor area. There are various types of bamboo, each with its own growing tendencies.
Some plants take a long time to mature, while others will quickly take over your yard, so choose cautiously. To keep bamboo under control, choose a slow-spreading, clumping type like Bambusa, Chusquea, Chimonocalamus, or Thamnocalamus or plant it in huge elevated containers.
- It can rapidly form a rich and exotic privacy screen.
- Low maintenance plants.
- It’s frost-resistant and can withstand temperature changes.
- If the root mass of clumping bamboo is not maintained, it will grow upwards in the remaining mulch.
Soil Requirements: Sandy, clay, alkaline, and acidic soils
Sun / Shade: Full sun
Skip laurel is an evergreen shrub that makes an excellent hedge or natural privacy screen. Although it’s easy to cut, this plant may reach a height of nearly 18 feet. The foliage of the skip laurel is exceedingly dense and thick. It’s a tough plant that can survive in hot, dry, or cold conditions. This plant may also thrive in dry, nutrient-deficient conditions.
Each year, skip laurel grows to a height of two feet, so keep it trimmed to keep the foliage under control. This plant is as robust as they come, so you may trim it harshly or softly, and it will still grow. This is the type of privacy plant that can cover an unsightly view. It is, however, mostly used to divide specific areas of the yard.
- An evergreen tree remains green all year.
- Drought and deer resistance.
- Trimming is required regularly.
- Dead and broken branches can restrict growth.
- Susceptible to winter burn.
Soil Requirements: Moist, well-draining soil that’s neutral to slightly alkaline in pH
Sun / Shade: Full sun and partial shade
Clematis is a creeping plant that makes an excellent privacy plant. This perennial vine is most recognized for its decorative, eye-catching flowers, which can wonderfully frame any outdoor area.
Clematis, with its bell-shaped flowers and dense foliage, might be used to partition off small areas of the garden as a statement-making privacy plant.
Clematis blooms also provide a pleasant scent to the air, making an intimate setting seem and feel even more calming. Clematis takes a long time to grow, so be patient while waiting for the plant to reach its full potential. If you’re cultivating clematis, keep in mind that the majority of kinds like chilly roots. For shade, this plant is best cultivated near the foot of another plant.
- Various colors are available, including white, rose, purple, blue.
- The best-known climber among vertical plants
- Ideal for privacy fence plants, privacy screen, and outdoor structures
- It might be difficult to get started.
- Regular pruning is required.
- Susceptible to fungal disease.
Soil Requirements: Well-drained, sandy loam
Sun / Shade: Full sun to a half-day of shade.
Boxwood is well-known for its compact, glossy leaves, which may be seen in both conventional and formal gardens. Because of its thick branches, boxwood, like arborvitae, may be trimmed into many forms.
Boxwood is a plant that tolerates a lot of abuse. In poor growing conditions, it doesn’t take much coddling to flourish. Boxwood is also low-maintenance, as it does not require trimming regularly. It can keep its shape for a long period, with only an annual trim late in the winter season being required.
Boxwood, once planted, does not require frequent watering. It is one of the few privacy plants that can withstand drought.
- Does not require frequent pruning
- Boxwood roots are shallow and invasive
- Does have an unpleasant odor, except for English Boxwood
Soil Requirements: Moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Sun / Shade: Full sun or partial shade
A dense evergreen with green, leathery leaves and black, berry-like fruits, Japanese Holly is a dense evergreen with green, leathery leaves and black, berry-like fruits. This slow-growing evergreen may reach a height of 6 to 10 feet and is an excellent natural screen. This plant is commonly cultivated as a houseplant, although it grows best in the full shade outdoors.
Japanese Holly prefers organically rich soil that is wet but never waterlogged. In mild winters, this plant is remarkably resilient, however, the leaves may turn brown in the winter. Japanese holly offers contrast and wonderful texture to your garden space when used as a natural screen.
- Deer resistant plant
- Grows well in containers and pots
- Perfect for privacy hedge
- Prone to Blackroot rot disease
- Attracts Black vine weevils that feed on the foliage and roots.
Soil Requirements: Wet or dry, clay or sand, acidic or alkaline soil
Sun / Shade: Full sun
When it comes to establishing a privacy fence, evergreen trees are typically the most popular. However, if you want to improve the aesthetics in the meantime, Red twig dogwood is a great option.
It’s a deciduous shrub, but when it loses all of its leaves in the fall, it creates a vibrant seasonal thicket of red branches. Furthermore, it can withstand temperature variations as well as wet soils, even soggy soils. This fast-growing shrub may reach a height of 8 feet and a width of 10 feet, creating an impressive display in your yard.
- It can grow up to eight feet tall and spread several feet wide.
- During the summer, the berries and leaves are beautiful, while the branches are red during the winter.
- Prone to pest infestations and fungal disease, mainly powdery mildew.
Pampas grass may reach a height of 10 to 13 feet and a width of six feet, making it ideal for privacy screens, wind barriers, and camouflaging unpleasant views. Pampas grass can also provide lush coverage and serve as living fences or hedges because of its stiff stems and sharp-edged leaves.
Using artificial hedge panels, which are relatively inexpensive, is a quick and easy solution. The more durable and realistic ones are more expensive, but you won’t want to go for the less expensive ones because of quality concerns. It’s almost maintenance-free to have an outdoor artificial boxwood hedge.
Morning glory vines don’t mix well with other annual or perennial flowers since their rapid growth might overpower others. They do, however, pair nicely with evergreen shrubs like junipers and yews, adding a splash of color to the otherwise green foliage.
You can achieve privacy in your garden or backyard by planting evergreen shrubs or cypress trees in your backyard or tall plants in large raised planters in your patio space. Planning is essential for creating a suitable privacy garden.
Look for plants that can survive high temperatures, depending on where you reside. Choose evergreen trees or a combination of plants and shrubs to provide adequate coverage. To make living walls or fences, use structures such as trellises.
If you like hedges, hardy plants such as Boxwood are ideal. Be aware of which plants, such as Boxwood, need regular pruning and maintenance. If spending too much time in the garden is not an option, artificial hedges can provide the privacy you want.