Growing These Backyard Plants Ensure Your Property Remains as Private as Possible
Living borders are a great way to make your space more serene.
If you're hoping to transform your backyard into an oasis where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you may be looking for ways to add pockets of privacy without having to erect potentially unsightly structures like fences and walls. Plants are a great alternative, especially if your end goal is to create a more natural, private escape just outside your home without spending a ton of money.
To help you choose the right backyard plants for privacy, we rounded up a list of our favorites, from large trees that can grow upwards of 40-feet in height to shrubs that offer a wider and more dense coverage area. You can also get creative with trellising plants and container varieties. All you need to do is determine how tall you need your plant to be in order to achieve optimum privacy, then consider how much room you have for the plant to flourish. A wide-growing hedge, for example, wouldn't be as good of a choice for an elevated deck as a vining plant grown in a container with a trellis.
Before shopping our list of privacy-promising plants, you should determine your USDA hardiness zone and make sure any plants you are looking to purchase will survive in your area. For example, one of the tropical palms on our list wouldn't fare as well in the lower USDA hardiness zones where winters are more severe and the warm, sunny weather of summer doesn't last as long. If you're unsure of your zone, or even what types of shrubs would do well with the soil and moisture conditions in your yard, you can check with a local expert. Nurseries and other plant retailers will be well versed on what will thrive in your region and can offer direction on what plants to avoid in your backyard.
Emerald Green Arborvitae
If you have a space that needs a tall plant with a smaller footprint, you may want to consider the emerald green arborvitae ($62.95, naturehills.com). "This species is very dense and can grow up to 15-feet tall and three to four feet wide, it requires very little pruning or shearing, and thrives in full sun to partial shade," says Frank Leloia, president of Custom Landscaping and Lawncare. "This is a great option to create a hedge with or let them grow naturally on their own."
Leyland Cypress Tree
The Leyland cypress tree ($139.99, brighterblooms.com) can provide a large barrier when planted as a border. "This species can grow 40- to-60-feet tall and 15- to-20-feet wide; in fact, it's a very fast-growing plant with growth at a rate of three to five feet per year," says Leloia. "This species likes full sun and is another great option to create a hedge or let them grow more naturally on their own."
Green Giant Arborvitae
This species can grow 30- to-40 feet tall and 12-feet wide, according to Leloia. It's another fast-growing plant that will grow at a rate of three to five feet per year, making a green giant arborvitae ($24.99, thegreenhousepnw.com) a great choice if you're looking for more privacy around your home, but you don't have time to wait for a slower-growing shrub to mature. "This species thrives in full to partial sun so you can create a hedge or let it grow more naturally on its own," the pro adds.
You can block the view from the road or just the eye line of neighbors with this species of spruce ($43.95, naturehills.com) that can grow to be 40-feet tall and 25-feet wide. It grows slower than some other varieties, with a growth rate of only one to two feet per year, which means it's not a great choice for someone who needs immediate privacy. "This species can thrive in sun, shade, or partial shade," says Leloia. "It's not a great option for a hedge, however, if spaced properly will give you the privacy you desire."
If you're looking for a slow grower that can add a lot of vertical privacy, you'll want to check out the American Holly. "This can grow 15- to-20-feet tall and 10- to-12-feet wide and is another slow grower with one to two feet per year," Leloia says. "This species thrives in full sun and is another great option to create a hedge or let them grow more naturally on their own."
While shrubs may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to adding more privacy to your yard, Debbie Neese, the Lively Root horticulture expert and landscape designer, says trellising plants are also worth considering. Vines like the star jasmine are a great choice when trained to grow a trellis and will delight with their white pinwheel-like blooms. "The Star Jasmine also grows very quickly which is an added bonus, it will quickly grow up any trellis or fence." Plant them in an area that gets full sun or part shade for best results.
Add a little fragrance to your yard with the gardenia, which can grow between six and eight feet in height. Neese recommends the gardenia for its aroma and ability to provide privacy. You'll want to plant it in an area that gets bright but indirect light with both an eastern and southern exposure.
Westringia (Coastal Rosemary)
If you need a potted shrub to add privacy to your elevated deck or patio space, you might want to consider the fragrant flowering rosemary bush. "They grow up to four to five-feet in ideal conditions," says Neese. "This plant also smells amazing!" Place yours somewhere that the soil can drain between watering and that receives full sun for the best results.
If you're looking for something a little different, consider a palm tree ($40.89, homedepot.com). "A lot of people use palms in their yard for a more tropical look," explains Neese. The cat palm is a great choice when you want to create a privacy screen thanks to their large leaves that fan out enough to block the view from the street. Plant where it will receive bright indirect light for best results.
Love the tropical look of palms for privacy, but lack the bright space necessary to plant one? Check out the lady palm. "If you are looking for a palm tree that loves partial shade, the lady palm would be perfect," says Neese. "Full and dark green, [the lady palm] palm will reach about seven to eight-feet tall, so it is well-suited to be a privacy screen." If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter, you can bring this palm inside until after the threat of frost has passed.
Thanks to a quick-spreading root system, bamboo makes an excellent privacy screen that will grow to full size quickly. Tzvi Rauch, CEO and founder of Tier II Landscape Design, recommends planting them in raised planters though, as they can quickly take over large swaths of landscape. "Bamboo can be used to create more of an exotic style living fence with its beautiful, lush leaves," Rauch adds.
A classic evergreen, boxwoods make good privacy plants because they can be used for both manicured designs and to grow freely. "Some varieties can grow up 20-feet tall," says Rauch. Plant in full to partial sun for best results.
Add a pop of color with the euonymus plant, which comes in shades of silver, gold, and green. They can grow to be up to six-feet tall. "They also tend to be tall and sturdy," explains Rauch, which is why he says these versatile plants (they can grow in full sun as well as shade) are among his favorites.
Skip Laurel Shrub
Skip laurel ($69.99, brighterblooms.com) is a very dark shade evergreen that blooms white flowers in the spring and works great in shaded areas, according to Rauch. In ideal conditions, which include full sun with moist, well-draining soil, skip laurel can grow three feet per year before reaching its maximum height of 10- to-18-feet tall.
Grow your own backyard privacy wall with the fast-growing plant. Unlike many other evergreens, this shrub will grow two to three feet per year, according to Rauch, before it reaches its maximum height of eight- to ten-feet tall. Plant in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.