Privacy Plants

Choosing and Placing

Privacy plants can create screening for those things you just don't want to see...or people you don't want to see you! One of the first things to determine is how tall you need the plants to be.

Privacy With Shrubs
(Trees Are Not Always Necessary)

While out on your patio or backyard, you would like something to shield your view to the neighbor's yard and vice versa. Here we are talking about the yard, so you can use tall shrubs as privacy plants. You do not necessarily need trees.

You will want the shrubs you choose to be at least six feet tall. You can do a mixed planting, by choosing different types of shrubs and planting them in groups. Use three, five or seven of one kind, then add a group of another kind of shrub, and then repeat the first group. Add lower shrubs in front along with perennials. Here are some shrubs you can use as privacy plants.

Evergreen Shrubs

  • Rhododendron - can get quite tall for a shrub. Likes some shade.
  • Blue Holly - Blue Princess and Blue Maid are two that would work. Add in a male (like Blue Prince) to make sure there is pollination for berry production.
  • Mountain Laurel - Lovely flowers in the spring. Likes some shade.

Also see my page on evergreen shrubs

Privacy Plants Using Evergreen Trees

Perhaps you need privacy from the house next door from an upper deck or inside your home. Due to the height of most houses, typically taller trees are required.

Evergreen trees with perennials in front.
Norway Spruce for screening set on a berm.

Evergreen trees will provide the most seclusion. They will retain their foliage all year long. Most of them get to be quite tall. The following are some great trees.

Click on the links in this section to read more about these recommended evergreen trees.

  • Norway Spruce - gets very tall and wide. However, you can plant them close and they will do fine. Very nice deep green needle-like foliage. Gets even better with age.
  • Green Giant Arborvitae - relatively narrow evergreen trees which are good for tighter spaces. This variety of Arborvitae is a very fast grower and thus great for screening and as privacy plants.
  • Leyland Cypress Trees - another fast growing evergreen tree. Soft green foliage and the creation of speedy privacy makes this tree a good choice too.
  • American Holly - a large evergreen tree which get beautiful berries in the fall. One of my favorites! It's a slower grower but in my opinion worth the way if you don't mind.

Depending on the length of your area, you can use either all one variety of privacy plants, or do groupings of different varieties. However, all of one kind always works well too. Consider placing some other plants in front of them for additional interest.

You don't have to plant them all in a row. You can stagger them for a more natural appearance. That being said, narrower trees, such as Green Giant Arborvitae or Leyland Cypress look better in a line.

You can also add some ornamental trees in front of the evergreen trees. To go a step further, add groups of shrubs and perennial flowers for color and texture.

How Close Should I Plant the Trees - And How Many?

Typically you should measure the length of the area that you need the screening for. Once you know the mature width of the tree, you will know how many you will need.

However, some plants get huge over time...and it takes so long for it to really mature, that it does not make sense to use the mature width as your guide. Most plants will adapt to tighter spaces. Also, you will gain more immediate privacy by planting the trees a bit closer than you normally would.

How to screen from the street depends on your land and the windows of your house. You might need medium to tall shrubs or tall trees.

In addition, it's important to decide whether you need to be private all year round or just in the summer. If it is only in the summer, you can use deciduous plants (those that lose there leaves in the winter), since winter time is not an issue.

Here are some nice shrubs that although they are not evergreen, they offer other features. This might be flowers, leaf color, fall color, berries, etc.

  • Red Twig Dogwood - provides beautiful red branches in the winter. Be sure to trim as the red color appears on new growth.
  • Weigela - Lovely summertime pink flowers.
  • Hydrangea - Many, many varieties with gorgeous large blooms. Most like a fair amount of shade. 'Annabelle' will take the sun.
  • Lilac - Purple, elongated flowers.
  • Mock Orange - Very full and has a wonderful fragrance.

Please take a look at my ebook Trees For Landscaping Find out about:
  • My very favorite trees
  • Information on the best evergreen trees for privacy with lots of specific information and pictures
  • The top flowering trees
  • Shade trees with great fall color
  • Tree specs such as size, growth rates, etc.
  • How to place trees

Related Pages
Evergreen Trees
Fast Growing Trees

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