Privacy often feels like a thing of the past in the digital age of social media. Primarily since most communities consist of houses so tightly pressed against one another, it’s easy to feel like your home is also your neighbor’s. One way to reclaim your personal space is to use fast growing evergreen shrubs for privacy.
These plants block your porches and yards from view, while also providing a distinct and elegant barrier. Some of the best shrubs to use in this matter are common hedge species like North Privet and the various arborvitae plants. Many of these specimens are low-maintenance evergreens that also add visual interest to any landscape.
Even flower bushes like hydrangea and lilac employ their wide-stretching branches to keep out onlookers, while simultaneously lending their natural charm and beauty to the scenery. To discover the best fast growing shrubs for privacy for your yard, take a look at this list of our favorite candidates.
- Setting Up Privacy Hedges
- Fantastic Evergreen Shrubs and Bushes for Privacy
- Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
- North Privet (Ligustrum x ibolium): Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs for Privacy
- Red Robin (Photinia × fraseri)
- Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla): Beautiful Floral Decorations
- Columnar Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’)
- Juniper (Juniperus)
- Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
- California Lilac (Ceanothus): Incredible Flowers as Privacy Hedges
- Yew (Taxus baccata)
- Leyland Cypress (Leylandii): Fast Growing Shrubs for Privacy
- Viburnum (Viburnum cinnamomifolium)
- Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
- Highlander Boxwood (L. Buxus sempervirens)
Setting Up Privacy Hedges
Some factors you may wish to consider when creating barriers out of any plant are how wide they are and how fast they grow. You also want to pay attention to height, since some privacy hedges grow to near-astronomical proportions if left untrimmed.
How fast do most privacy hedges grow?
Saving time is critical when it comes to planting privacy hedges. Most homeowners lean toward faster-growing species since they achieve the desired screening effect in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, the last thing anyone wants is to wait several years for their hedges to reach maturity, only to discover they are too far apart.
Though all hedges grow at a different pace, Leylandii is among the fastest, growing approximately three feet each year. Of course, this also means regular pruning is required on faster-growing plants. Take how fast and often you tend to your plants into account when making your selection.
How far apart should I space them?
The space between each plant changes depending on the species, since some grow unusually wide, while others stretch in taller, leaner forms. Boxwood shrubs require only about two feet of space between plants, where other shrubs like hydrangeas call for approximately seven feet of distance.
What’s most important when it comes to determining the spacing of plants is the stage of life your tree is at currently. As essential as closing the gaps between plants is to create a privacy screen, you also should refrain from overcrowding them. Accounting for the plant’s growth and size when it reaches its mature height offers enough space between plants without leaving unwanted gaps.
Fantastic Evergreen Shrubs and Bushes for Privacy
The best part about using evergreens for hedging is the year-round interest. Even without flowers, this selection of stunning green trees and bushes still look beautiful during the winter months.
Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
One of the first trees landscapers imagine when planning a privacy hedge is the Emerald Green Arborvitae. True to their namesake, these beautiful trees retain their lovely emerald green foliage year-round, offering incredible appeal even in the winter.
Maturing at around 10-15 feet tall, they are also significantly more manageable than their larger arborvitae cousins, who reach proportions of up to 60 feet high. Emerald Arborvitae forms a pyramid-like shape and expands to only about 4 feet wide.
For privacy hedges, placing them about 2 feet apart is ideal. Though it is among the slower growing trees at about one foot per year, their size and width are easy to cultivate into a dense hedge.
North Privet (Ligustrum x ibolium): Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs for Privacy
Another common variety of shrubs used for privacy hedges is the privet. These plants generally grow from 4-15 tall and about 4 to 8 feet wide. When planting, leave about one to two feet of distance between the plants.
They do just as well in partial shade as they do in full sun and withstand a variety of soil types. In summer, hedges bloom with dainty white flowers. They are also drought-tolerant, making them a relatively easy plant to maintain.
Red Robin (Photinia × fraseri)
Another common shrub for borders is the Fraser photinia, also called Red Robin. This plant develops into a height of 9-12 feet with a spread of the same. In April, these shrubs produce lovely white blooms that remain for a month or two.
The most beautiful part about this plant, however, is the vibrant fall color of new plant growth. While the plant remains green throughout the winter months when fresh leaves begin to form, they are a beautiful shade of red. This color eventually shifts to green as the leaves mature.
Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata)
Another species from the Thuja genus is the Green Giant Arborvitae. A much faster grower than its emerald cousin, this version grows around 2.5′ every year. While it reaches heights of up to 60 feet, simply prune down the branches to maintain the desired reach.
Since these plants stretch anywhere between 12-20 feet in width, they make the perfect privacy hedge. Experts suggest planting them about 8 to 12 feet apart to provide maximum screening.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla): Beautiful Floral Decorations
Another group of privacy shrubs that add just as much beauty as peace of mind is the hydrangea. While the most common version of these plants is deciduous, there are a few evergreen varieties, too. In the summer and spring, these shrubs develop large clusters of flowers that range from white to purple to blue.
On average, hydrangeas grow about ten feet in both height and width. They also grow just over two feet a year. Pruning in the spring is an excellent way to trim back fast-growing portions, though it’s not necessary.
Columnar Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’)
A low-maintenance evergreen, the Columnar Norway Spruce works wonderfully as a series of privacy trees. This tree adapts well to cold climates, providing year-round interest with its green, textured needles. Once mature, the spruce grows up to 30 feet with a ten-foot spread.
A speedy grower, the plant achieves up to two feet a year during its initial development stages. For best results, place them approximately 5 feet apart when planting.
Junipers come in many different shapes and sizes and grow as both evergreen shrubs and taller trees. The typical height for most juniper species when hedging is about 5 feet tall. While not as fast as plants like Leyland Cypress or Green Giants, they still grow around 18 inches a year.
Junipers prefer alkaline soil and full sun to thrive. Some varieties include little bluish-silver berries that appear in the fall. The plant also contains highly flammable resin, so it is not suggested for homes close to areas with potential fire dangers.
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
An incredibly fast-growing plant, Forsythia grows anywhere between 2-4 feet a year. It also achieves a spread and height of 10 feet, so spacing them about 4-6 feet apart is ideal.
Most recommend pruning to manage the plant’s quick growth and ensure blooms in the spring. With a hardiness level that spans across cooler regions in zone 4 down to warmer climates in zone 9, it’s the perfect addition to any landscape.
California Lilac (Ceanothus): Incredible Flowers as Privacy Hedges
Another fantastic choice for hedges is lilac. While most of us automatically imagine the deciduous lilac from the Syringa genus, the evergreen variant belongs to the Ceanothus family. Despite the dainty appearance of its flowers, they make amazing windbreakers.
California Lilacs are fast-growing shrubs, reaching their full height of 6 feet in just under three years. Setting them at 2-4 feet apart creates an elegant and effective privacy hedge that both you and your neighbors will love.
Yew (Taxus baccata)
Yew is an evergreen shrub that flowers in late winter and yields red berries in the fall. These berries are quite sweet and edible, though the seed at its center is poisonous. On average, these shrubs grow about 5 feet tall and 10 feet wide, so allow plenty of space between other plants.
Planting this shrub generally takes place either in early fall or spring. A partially grown specimen between 1½ to 2 feet tall is ideal for ensuring a successful growth.
Leyland Cypress (Leylandii): Fast Growing Shrubs for Privacy
One of the fastest growing evergreen trees is the Leyland Cypress. This conifer attains three feet each year and acts as a phenomenal windbreak. In addition to being speedy little growers, they’re also among some of the most inexpensive members of the privacy hedge group.
These plants also come in a wide variety of heights, with some dwarf varieties as small as 4 feet tall and standard ones as tall as 100 feet. Many homeowners keep these hedges shorter, however, with anywhere between 15 to 40 feet in height. Also, a wide-spreading tree, place enough space between each plant, generally 5 to 7 feet for dwarf species and 15-20 feet for standard ones.
Viburnum (Viburnum cinnamomifolium)
Viburnum trees are one of the few plants that grow both as evergreen and deciduous varieties, depending on where they grow and which species you’re planting. Both Viburnum cinnamomifolium and Viburnum davidii are evergreen viburnum that thrive in warmer climates in the USDA hardiness zones 7-9.
Even though both retain similar characteristics, their rate of growth and height are significantly different. Viburnum cinnamomifolium grows anywhere from one to two feet a year and achieves heights of approximately 10-20 feet high.
Viburnum davidii develops a little slower, with only about a foot gained each year. This difference is much more understandable, however, considering the plant grows up to 7 feet tall.
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
Euonymous plants form a family of shrubs, vines, and groundcover plants. While the shrubs grow only about 4 feet tall, the vines extend to heights of 5-15 feet. Most plants within the family display variegated green leaves that remain bright and beautiful all year long.
Wintercreeper grows throughout most of the states and is hardy within zones 5 through 9. They prefer full sun in cooler climates and partial shade in warmer ones, with a well-drained soil that is slightly alkaline in pH levels.
Highlander Boxwood (L. Buxus sempervirens)
Boxwood is another candidate that comes in a wide variety of species, styles, and sizes. Though many boxwood plants develop slowly, the Highlander variety grows at a rate of two feet per year. On average, these boxwoods grow about 6 feet tall with a spread of around three feet.
In spring, they produce small white flowers that are not as impressive as their dark green foliage. When maintaining these plants, use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
With so many different incredible options to choose from, the inspiration for your privacy fence of evergreen plants is not far behind. Whether you prefer the classic look of green foliage or wish to add a little extra pop of color with bright flowers, we found the perfect plants to accomplish the task.
If you found these privacy gardening tips useful, then please remember to share your favorite fast growing evergreen shrubs for privacy with friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest.