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10 Privacy Plants for Screening Your Yard in Style

If you’re searching for ways to create a natural screen for your yard, today’s post is for you! Kate here, and I have a little bit of experience in this area, as I spent the greater part of five years trying to block the view of my neighbor’s backyard, which had become a dumping ground for unwanted items. The problem: my living room overlooked the junk heap, and nothing but a chain-link fence separated our outdoor spaces. The solution: privacy plants. Get ready for some interesting vegetation that can can add shade, privacy and beauty to your yard. Below you will find 10 options to choose from, and at the very end of the post, I’ll reveal what I ended up selecting for my backyard. Ready to get started?…

Bamboo

We begin with bamboo, which adds height and modern style to the outdoor spaces it adorns. Below we see how a row of bamboo creates a poolside wall of greenery. But what about the fact that bamboo can be invasive and hard to maintain?! [from Anston Architectural]

Bamboo adds greenery to a poolside fence
Bamboo adds greenery to a poolside fence

Not all bamboo is invasive! While some can quickly get out of control, try Fargesia bamboos, which have clumping roots and grow more slowly than their unruly counterparts. There are many perks to Fargesia, including the fact that it’s fast-growing, evergreen and hardy, even in the cold. For more information, check out Nursery Management. [photo from Bamboo Visions]

Non-invasive clumping bamboo near a front entrance
Non-invasive clumping bamboo near a front entrance

Cacti

While not the obvious choice, cacti create sculptural modern fencing options with an unexpected twist! A February 2015 Gardenista article by Jeanne Rostaing showcases the Mexican Fence Post cactus, which graces the patio of El Montero restaurant in Mexico, as shown below. Did you know that this cactus was used by Mexican landowners to designate property lines? [Photograph by Matthew Williams]

Cacti provide privacy at El Montero in Mexico
Cacti provide privacy at El Montero in Mexico

Cactus can be the perfect solution for hot, dry climates, and there’s nothing like the modern feel that a row of tall cacti provides, especially when used to enhance the architecture of a home. [photo by Bill Timmerman, from The Construction Zone]

Cacti make a sculptural privacy screen
Cacti make a sculptural privacy screen

Boxwood

Boxwood is an ideal evergreen choice for pots and planters. Try tall, slender containers to add height, and sculpt the boxwood for a privacy screen with a bold, manicured statement! [photo from Cyan Horticulture]

Sculpted boxwood in tall planters
Sculpted boxwood in tall planters

Boxwood also makes a lovely option for the ground, and it adds English garden-style charm when trimmed into spheres or hedges. If height isn’t a huge factor with your privacy screen, you don’t need to wait for the boxwood to grow tall before achieving the results you desire. [photo from Gardenality]

Boxwood shrubs provide a mini wall of greenery
Boxwood shrubs provide a mini wall of greenery

Artificial Boxwood

If you need thick, tall, lush coverage and you want an instant privacy screen effect, consider artificial hedges. In fact, artificial boxwood is catching on as the perfect solution if you don’t have the time to cultivate tall hedges. Below we see artificial boxwood from Planters Unlimited via Dwell on Design:

Artifical boxwood hedges are a low-maintenance option
Artifical boxwood hedges are a low-maintenance option

Another reason to go artificial: maintaining perfectly sculpted hedges takes time and money. These artificial boxwood hedges from Hooks & Lattice don’t require the maintenance of their live counterparts! Plus, they’re crafted from high-quality polyurethane with UV protection and hand assembled/attached. The boxwood can be bolted to planters (also from Hooks & Lattice) for a clean, modern look.  If you choose to go faux, do your research and be sure you understand how much life you’ll get out of your investment before it eventually begins to weather and fade.

Faux boxwood hedges from Hooks and Lattice
Faux boxwood hedges from Hooks and Lattice

Italian Buckthorn

We continue on our evergreen shrub kick, this time getting back to the real variety! Consider Italian Buckthorn for your privacy planting needs. This shrub will grow rather quickly, and its upright formations make it ideal for screen purposes. [from Arterra Landscape Architects]

Italian buckthorn adds greenery to a modern patio
Italian Buckthorn adds greenery to a modern patio

Because it’s taller than it is wide, Italian Buckthorn is perfect for placement in front of walls or other structures that don’t need complete coverage. After all, why would you want to hide a colorful wall like the one below?! [photo from Marina del Rey Garden Center]

Italian Buckthorn is the perfect choice for this purple wall
Italian Buckthorn is the perfect choice for this purple wall

Privet

It’s important to remember that tall, lush hedges (even fast-growing ones) can take years to cultivate and grow. If you have time to be patient, it’s well worth the wait to achieve a private space like the one in the next featured image. Privet is the plant of choice in this stunning outdoor area. [photo by Doug Young, from Lear + Mahoney Landscape Associates]

Privet creates tall green hedge formations
Privet creates tall green hedge formations

Keep in mind that when you’re planting greenery such as Privet, it’s important to consider the needs of your space and the growing potential of the plant you choose. Carefully plan out your privacy screen, taking care to research the proper spacing of each plant. Consult an expert, such as a landscaper or a knowledgeable employee at your local nursery. For more information, visit Arbor Day Foundation. [photo from Popscreen]

Privet creates a lush wall of greenery
Privet creates a lush wall of greenery

Arborvitae

There’s something unique about the clustered, textured feel of Arborvitae’s greenery. This tree is often layered with other selections, such as Boxwood. Below we see a lush garden filled with manicured trees and shrubs. Note the Arborvitae growing tall behind the Boxwood. [from Land Architects]

Arborvitae and boxwood in a manicured garden
Arborvitae and boxwood in a manicured garden

If you’re considering planting Arborvitae as a privacy plant, there are some important hints to remember, including the value of properly researching the best variety of the plant for your yard. Get more information at DoItYourself.com. [photo from Arbor Day Foundation]

Privacy fence created with Arborvitae
Privacy fence created with Arborvitae

Photinia

Photinia offers ample coverage, as well as glossy leaves that add richness to your outdoor space. This evergreen shrub is often used as a privacy fence, as shown below in a hedge created by alternating Photinia with Dodonaea. [photo from Uurutia Design]

Privacy hedge created by Photinia trees
Privacy hedge created by Photinia trees

You can let your Photinia fill out, or you can trim and cultivate it, as shown in the next featured image. If you have other greenery to mix in or a fence or wall behind it, trimming this plant is an eye-catching way to add interest to the yard. Whether or not you go for a manicured look, it’s important to regularly prune Photinia in order to keep it healthy and thriving. [photo from Kate Eyre Garden Design]

Sculpted Photinia trees add height and interest to the backyard
Sculpted Photinia trees add height and interest to the backyard

Cypress Trees

There’s nothing like the tall, stately silhouette of a Cypress tree. Because this plant grows tall and narrow, it’s perfect for planting in a row to create a screen, as shown by the patio space below. [from Exterior Worlds]

A wall of cypress trees borders a Houston patio
A wall of Cypress trees borders a Houston patio

Leyland Cypress is a popular privacy fence choice, although the lifespan of this tree is rather short, with many estimates being between 10-20 years. As with all greenery you add to your yard, do your research so you can weigh factors such as cost and maintenance in relation to the longevity of your investment. [photo from U.S.A. Pools]

Cypress trees provide privacy to a pool area
Cypress trees provide privacy to a pool area

Vines

Let’s end today’s post by considering the option of vines! If you have a fence with gaps or openings (in other words, a not-so-private fence), a good climbing vine is a great solution for adding privacy and beauty to your yard. One option is Clematis, which grows quickly and produces beautiful blooms. However, be forewarned that this vine requires dedicated pruning to keep it from growing out of control. In other words, if you want a fast grower, Clematis just might do the trick, but be prepared to keep it in check. [photo from OnlinePlantGuide.com]

Clematis is a popular vine selection
Clematis is a popular vine selection

In contrast to the Clematis, plants such as Confederate Jasmine are slower growers, taking years to cover a fence but providing solid, hardy evergreen growth with a big payoff. Beautiful year-round and stunningly fragrant in the spring and/or summer (depending on where you live), this plant is perfect for balconies, patios, trellises and chain-link fences. In case you were wondering, this is the plant I chose to cover the fence in my backyard. It didn’t block the view of my neighbor’s boxes right away, but boy did it grow lovelier each year. Totally worth the wait. [photo from Alice Maslin via Houzz]

Jasmine grows on a balcony trellis
Jasmine grows on a balcony trellis

Which of today’s featured privacy plants would you consider for your outdoor space? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

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