In your garden, privacy is a very big concern. You most likely have a neighbor or two close to your house unless you live in a rural area, and having private space outside near your pond or patio is difficult. Most people don’t want to build a full-scale privacy fence around the yard, but privacy plants are a nice option to consider.
Using plants to create a private environment is a nice way to keep out any passers-by, and it can make your space much more serene. You can put your privacy plants right in the ground, or you can make them moveable by putting them in containers. You can also train them to grow up and over a structure like a fence or trellis. Climbing vines, trees, ornamental grasses, shrub hedges, and bamboo are all good choices. Whatever you need, we have the plants for you below.
Small Coverage or Complete Obscurity
Before you look at privacy plants, you’ll want to plan out what you want out of your border. The first thing you should decide is the privacy level you want. Do you want 100% complete coverage or is having plants you can see through enough? This will help determine the privacy plants and how you should space them. Some plants only get a few feet tall while others can get higher.
Also, remember to double-check with any HOA ordinances if you have them. Some have rules about how much you can block off your yard, and you’ll have to plan your coverage around any of these rules or restrictions. The city can have restrictions and regulations too, so you’ll want to touch base with your zoning office and work within their restrictions to avoid problems or fines down the road.
You’ll also have to consider how much of your yard you want to block off with your privacy plants. Do you want to create a border that runs all around your yard? Maybe there’s only one direction that has heavy traffic you want to block. For example if you want full yard coverage, the best privacy plants would be putting in thick shrubbery. You could accomplish partial blockage with one large tree.
There are dozens of commonly used, thick privacy plants that can create a wonderful barrier between your yard and the neighbors. If you’re ready to find out what options you have available, we suggest you look at 24 options.
This is the most commonly used privacy plant available, and it’s a wonderful hedge tree. They grow tall and the shrubs will form a very thick and dense wall when you plant them side by side. This makes them one of the best options for full privacy. They’re also some of the hardiest plants you can have during all seasons, including harsh winters. This plant does require good drainage, full sun, and a generally dry location to ensure it thrives.
Arborvitae does best when you plant it in zones three to seven, and this covers the northern portion of the United States, excluding right by the Canadian border. The zone extends down to the south-central portion of the United States. It’s a very versatile option that does very well in almost any location except for ones that get extreme cold or heat. You can get them at your local home improvement store, garden center, or on Amazon.
When you think of privacy plants, bamboo usually isn’t something that comes to a lot of people’s minds. However, it can add a modern style and height to your outdoor space. If you’ve considered bamboo, you’re most likely worried about the fact that many people consider it invasive and that it’s very hard to maintain, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
However, not all bamboo is invasive. While it’s true that some can grow out of control, Fargesia bamboo grows clumping root systems and they grow much more slowly than other types. However, it’s still a fast-growing privacy plant that is evergreen, and it’s hardy in hot or cold environments. You can plant your bamboo in shallow flower bed boxes to help contain them if you’re worrying about them growing out of control.
This sturdy privacy plant is fantastic in your yard, but it’s a slow-growing cultivar. If you’re after a plant that’s easy to maintain, this is it. This is an evergreen that comes in a range of shapes, and they’re resistant to deer. Boxwoods will grow well up to zone six, and they do well in full sun. The climate should be on the cooler to average warmth side, and you’ll need an average rainfall amount. You can get this plant at most home improvement stores across the upper midwest portion of the United States, or Amazon has it.
Cacti aren’t the most obvious privacy plant out there, but they can create a modern sculptural fence that most can’t mimic. Also, cacti are the premium choice in regions that have dry and hot climates where they naturally grow. They offer a very minimalistic appearance, and you can easily arrange them in a row of varying heights to get an asymmetrical look. They can get up to 20 feet tall and have a very charming look, especially when you use your cacti to enhance your home’s architecture.
5. Chocolate Vines
Chocolate vines get the name due to the dark purple flowers they produce. It’s a perennial vine that is a great addition to your backyard fence as a privacy plant. It will survive in shade, but it grows best when you have it in an area that gets full sun. It’s native to Korea and Japan, but this vine has now naturalized throughout a large portion of the United States. It grows well in zones four to eight, and it’ll stay green all year-round in zones six or warmer. You can get starter plants at your local nursery.
6. Cypress Trees
It’s hard to beat the stately, tall silhouette that a Cypress tree offers. Since this plant grows so narrow and tall, it’s great for planting in a row. Leyland Cypress is a very popular privacy plant, but this tree’s biggest downside is the shorter lifespan. Generally speaking, it’ll live between 10 and 20 years at most. You’ll want to do your research before you pick this privacy plant and see if the maintenance and cost outweigh the longevity of the tree.
Euonymus makes a good privacy plant as it is available in several colors and sizes, including gold, green, and variegated tones. This thick and tall shrub species can survive in all weather conditions, and it’s not picky about the soil. So, you won’t have to worry too much about having a specific spot for it. When you plant them close together, this plant works as a lush hedge that doesn’t allow a lot of room to see through the branches. You can also prune it into a fun tree shape to create a unique privacy fence.
8. Evergreen Azalea
This colorful, pretty, and fast-growing privacy plant has a ton of flowers that contrast sharply against the glossy green, darker-colored leaves. In the fall, the foliage turns a brilliant red to add to the shrub’s variety. Generally speaking, azaleas have an upright growth habit that gives you higher fence capabilities. It’s one of the most durable plants in zones five to eight, and it’ll grow very well in partial shade. As a bonus, this plant doesn’t require a huge amount of water to be happy.
Not every shrub you pick out for a privacy plant has to be evergreen, and you can easily add a few deciduous varieties into the mix to create more color and interest in your yard. Forsythia offers early spring flowers, and it’s a great option to give you a living privacy fence from spring to fall once they burst into leaf and flower. They’ll get between 8 and 10 inches high at full maturity.
This plant will produce stunning yellow flowers in the spring before the green foliage takes over. It’s hardy in zones five to nine, and it needs very little maintenance as it can live for decades without a lot of input from you. In some areas this is an invasive plant due to how quickly it can spread if you leave it unchecked, so touch base with your local office to see if you can plant it.
Holly is a broad-leaf evergreen shrub that gives you excellent privacy potential. It has a reputation for having dark green, lustrous foliage with pretty red fruit that it produces throughout the year. Holly can get up to 10 feet tall, and this makes it a nice privacy plant for taller spaces. Holly grows well in zones five to nine, and it prefers full sun or partial shade. It grows better if you live in a temperate environment, and you can get it from most nurseries.
Inkberry will grow a nicely rounded evergreen crown with broad leaves. It makes a nice foundation plant to boost your home’s security, especially if you pick cultivars like compacta, densa, and gem box. Also called evergreen winterberry, gallberry, and Appalachian tea tree, this privacy plant is native to eco-regions in the southeast and eastern portion of the United States along the coast. It’s also native to southern maritime Canada. You should plant it in a space that gets moderate soil moisture, and it can tolerate anything from full sun to light shade.
You want to trim this privacy plant six inches per year to encourage dense leaf growth up and down the plant’s stem. This isn’t a plant you’ll get for the flowers since they’re very small and underwhelming, but they do produce bluish-black berries in the winter for the birds if you plant male and female cultivars.
12. Italian Buckthorn
Italian Buckthorn is another evergreen shrub for you to consider as a privacy plant if you want a little variety in your yard. This shrub has a quick growth habit during the spring months, and it has an upright growth habit to shield your yard. Since it’s taller than it grows wide, this plant is very well placed in front of walls. It’s a nice option to have if you don’t want full coverage around your yard.
13. Lady Palm
Do you love the tropical look palm trees give your yard but you don’t have the bright light needed for them to thrive? If so, check out lady palm. It loves partial shade, and it can also work to clean the air. It’s full and dark green, and it can get between seven and eight feet tall to work as a privacy screen. If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter months, you’ll want to move it inside to shield it, so consider planting it in containers.
14. Mountain Laurel
If you’re after a shrub that will work as a privacy plant while still giving you pretty flowers, Mountain Laurel can work well. It produces large white or pink flowers in June and July each year, and you can mix it in with other flowering shrubs to create full season displays. You may hear it called spoonwood or the calico bush, and it has a reputation as being a shade-loving plant. However, it actually grows healthier and happier in a full sun location. It’s native to the eastern third eco-regions of the United States and parts of southern Canada.
Once you establish this privacy plant, it can tolerate drought or dry sites. If you want plants to create privacy from the neighbors, you should avoid varieties that were specifically bred to be shorter. They work well if you’re looking for colorful shrubs to plant in front of your house, and they can help to increase your home’s curb appeal.
15. North Privet
As one of the best privacy plants due to the rapid growth, this is a shrub variety that has a nice upright growth habit. It’ll grow up to three feet a year, and it’s not a hard specimen to shape and prune if you do it a few times every year. This plant produces small white flowers that bloom in the spring, and it can grow to be rather tall to make it a solo shrub to give you a uniform look and feel. It does well in zones five to eight, and it needs a minimum of four hours of uninterrupted sunlight to be happy.
16. Norway Spruce
You can block your neighbor’s eye line or the view from the road using this privacy plant. Norway Spruce can easily reach 25-feet wide and 40-feet tall at full maturity, and it will grow much slower than most of the privacy plants on the list. It will grow roughly one or two feet a year, so it’s not a good pick if you need an immediate solution to your privacy problem. It can do well in shade, sun, or partial shade. If you space it correctly, it’ll give you the privacy you want.
Photinia gives you ample coverage with glossy leaves that can easily add a richness to your garden or yard. It’s a pretty evergreen shrub that is commonly used as a privacy plant, and you can allow it to fill out naturally or you can trim and cultivate it to suit your needs. If you have other greenery around, try mixing this plant in. You could plant it right in front of a fence or wall to draw attention since trimming it makes it very eye-catching. Whether or not you go for a manicured look, you want to prune it a few times a year to keep it thriving and healthy.
18. Red Twig Dogwood
Throughout the northern part of the United States, you’ll find this dogwood used as a privacy plant. It has bright red stalks that make it a very impressionable plant to use, especially in colder climates where they’ll stand out during the long winters. It can get up to nine feet tall, and you’ll plant it by itself rather than mixing it with other plants. It has full foliage with very showy flowers during the spring and summer months. It grows well in zones three to eight, and you want to plant it in big batches.
19. Rose of Sharon
The Rose of Sharon is a flowering privacy hedge that produces pretty white flowers. It can bloom all summer long, and it’s a very decorative plant to have. It’s a deciduous shrub that can get up to eight feet tall at full maturity, and it doesn’t require a huge amount of maintenance. It does well planted in zones five to eight, and it prefers a medium amount of water with full sun to thrive.
20. Rosebay Rhododendron
As another flowering candidate for your privacy plants, the Rosebay Rhododendron is also called the American rosebay. It’s native to the eastern third portion of the United States, and you can find it growing in parts of southeastern Canada. It’s a taller shrub that grows large white flowers throughout July, and in most locations, it can reach up to 15 feet tall. This broadleaf evergreen thrives in acidic, moist soil with full sun for six to eight hours every day.
21. Schip Laurel
This evergreen, compact privacy plant thrives in partial sun and shaded conditions. It’s very versatile, and it’ll easily grow between 10 and 14 feet tall under the right planting conditions and environment. It’s also called Skip Laurel, and it’s a nice choice in zones five to nine. If you have a shady or north-facing plot and need a shrub that does well, this one will handle copious amounts without a problem. It’s smaller growing than other laurel types, and it can create a neater, more compact fence or hedge when you prune it. It also does well in various soil types.
22. Shrubby Honeysuckle
Shrubby honeysuckle is also called Wilson’s honeysuckle, and it’s a very hardy, fast-growing evergreen shrub that works as a privacy plant. It will get up 11 feet tall at full maturity, and it offers tiny, densely packed leaves to form a very dense living screen. It can also produce off-white, sweetly-scented flowers in spring and blueish-purple berries in the fall. This makes it a magnet for wildlife, and it grows well in partial shade to full sun. It will do well in virtually any soil type as long as they drain well.
23. Star Jasmine
While you may be more prone to check out shrubs as your preferred privacy plants, there’s no reason why you can’t also consider trellising plants in your design. The star jasmine is one vine that is a great choice when you train it to grow on a trellis. It offers pinwheel-like, white flowers throughout the summer months. It also grows very quickly, including up a fence or trellis. It likes to be in a space that gets full sun to partial shade with a well-draining soil.
The final privacy plant on the list is one that works well as a potted shrub for your elevated patio or deck space. It’s a flowering, fragrant rosemary bush. They can get between four and five feet tall under ideal conditions, and it has a very strong scent. Plant it somewhere that the soil drains well between watering sessions and it gets full, bright sunlight.
How to Plant Privacy Plants
It’s relatively easy to get your privacy plants in and growing early in the spring months, and the following guide will give you a very quick overview.
Step 1: Pick the Correct Plants
Make sure that you pick out the correct plant for your privacy needs and your climate zone. For instance, the Euonymus plant won’t get above four or five feet tall at the most, and this is a nice choice if you want to be able to see some of your surroundings while giving a more subtle sense of privacy in your yard. But, if you’re after a full privacy fence, this isn’t a good choice. In this case, buying an Arborvitae or Holly variety would be the better choice.
Step 2: Find Out Your Growing Conditions
Being in the listed growing zone doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the perfect growing conditions for your privacy plant. Make sure your space has the right amount of water, sunlight, and other needs to help your plant thrive.
Step 3: Carefully Follow the Care Instructions
Talk to the workers at the local nursery or garden store to find out what the best care instructions for your particular plant are. Keep track of your plant’s health cycle as the months go on.
Step 4: Prune to the Plant’s Specifications.
If you want to prune the privacy plant to look a certain way to fit in with your overall design aesthetic, make sure you know how much pruning you can safely do and have the plant bounce back. Also, know how much you have to prune it each year to keep it healthy.
We’ve outlined 24 privacy plants that you can consider adding to your yard. No matter if you’re a brand new gardener or someone with years of experience, most of these options will work great as they don’t need a lot of maintenance. However, trimming and pruning are necessary for many of these plant’s health, so make sure you have the correct tools on hand.
On the same note, before you plant anything, make sure that you do a little soil research and figure out if it’s suitable to support your plant’s growth. This will go a long way in helping you pick out the perfect privacy plant while helping you make the most out of this investment.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.