The Best Privacy Plants to Screen Your Neighbours
Everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding…
As living space gets smaller and our gardens take on more of a role as outdoor rooms, the need for a bit of personal space gets ever more important. A friendly wave each morning might go a long way, but it’s got nothing on a nine foot hedge.
Let’s be real, you don’t want to see what the neighbours are doing in their hot tub - or you don’t want the neighbours to see what you’re doing in the hot tub. Whichever side of the hot tub fence you’re on, privacy is a must. Plants can be used to screen out unwelcome sights and sounds too. Barking dog? Amateur trombone practice? Football crazy kids? Used well, plants can reduce the volume. Intrusive odours or pollution? They can help with that too! Read on to find out which are the best privacy plants you can grow.
Plants for privacy
Generally speaking, the best screening plants are evergreens. They tend to be fast growing but not hard to maintain and most importantly, look good all year round. But they’re not the only option - depending on your situation, a climber, shrub or deciduous tree could be the answer. Here are our growers’ top choices.
When it comes to privacy, growing a hedge is a go-to option that’s hard to beat. Evergreens like Box, Yew and Privet grow rapidly and are dense and bushy, letting through little or nothing to offend the eyes. If you need a little less coverage, go for a deciduous hedge which will flower in spring (Forsythia, Deutzia) or summer (Mock Orange, Potentilla) and drop its leaves in late autumn or winter when your neighbour’s kids are less likely to be enjoying a three hour trampoline session anyway. As an added bonus if you want to discourage animals or intruders, Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Holly are sufficiently spiky.
If your garden or home is overlooked by just one window of your neighbour’s house, a single, well-placed tree will do the job. If the space to be filled is wide, go for a multi stem tree, but otherwise choose a single stemmed tree with a dense, bushy top that can be trimmed into an appropriate shape (not this) such as holly or oak.
A row of trees can also be a good alternative to a privacy hedge, allowing you to add screening at the top of a fence while still being able to plant in the border below it. Our growers recommend evergreen Yew or Portuguese Laurel, or deciduous Liquidambar or flagpole cherry blossoms for this job. They also mentioned pleached trees, which need a fair bit of work to establish and maintain, but look super stylish and create a solid, narrow barrier at the height of your choice.
If you’re planting your trees in a front garden to mask the traffic, you’ll be best off choosing a pollution tolerant species like a rowan or a black cherry plum. Bear in mind also that as a general guide, trees need to be around 1.8-2m tall to block a neighbour’s view into your house or garden.
Discover more fast growing trees for your garden.
Taller shrubs can be used to make an informal hedge, and are also useful if you have railings in your garden or a fence full of gaps or knotholes to cover. They’re also useful for screening on balconies, as a great many can be grown successfully in pots, such as Euonymus, Hydrangea, Viburnum and more.
Consider bamboo too - plant it in pots to create a narrow living screen as an alternative to a fence, but make sure you restrict the roots of running bamboo or the lack of privacy won’t be your only neighbour problem…
Climbing plants aren’t usually as dense as a shrub or tree, but woven through a chain link fence or screen, an evergreen climber like an ivy, star jasmine or honeysuckle can go a long way towards improving your personal space. Deciduous jasmine also provides a relatively dense coverage throughout the spring and summer, with the added bonus of being covered in little white flowers and with a fragrance strong enough to do battle with the barbecue fumes from over the fence.
Climbers are especially good for creating privacy on a balcony, and can be trained to cover railings or, with the help of wires or a trellis, a transparent glass panel. For maximum coverage, choose evergreens or woody deciduous climbers like wisteria (make sure your railings are strong enough to support it though, as this is one hardcore climber), grape vines or climbing roses.
Find out which climbing plants grow the quickest.
Hit the Leylandii button
Hear me out - if you prune these regularly, they don’t have to be the nuclear option. If you’ve tried everything else and still can’t get any peace, or you just need a hedge as fast as possible, Leylandii are your friends. In the spirit of good neighbour relations (and not being cited in court cases) I am obliged to repeat, prune them regularly.
Explore more hedging options for your garden with our growers’ guides.