The 8 Best Shrubs For Privacy Recommended By Pros -

The 8 Best Shrubs For Privacy Recommended By Pros

best shrubs for privacy

If you're like many homeowners today, you like your privacy. Sure, being neighborly and socializing is all good, but at the right times. I'm sure you know that when it comes time for privacy, you should have it.

That's why we want to give you our list for the top 8 best shrubs for privacy.

Qualities Of The Best Shrubs For Privacy

Keep these 3 things in mind as you're trying to decide which shrubs to choose for privacy around your own home.

  1. Evergreen:

    First and foremost, for most people, the best shrubs for privacy are evergreen.

    We've seen other lists compiled by other sources that include deciduous shrubs and trees. The problem with this is they will loose their leaves in the winter and, depending where you live, that could be 6 months or more.

    Do you really want to be open to the world for half the years? We think not. When it comes to privacy, we're sure you want it 24/7, 12 months out of the year.

  2. Height:

    We've also seen lists that include smallish shrubs that may not grow as tall as you want. After all, the average person is 6 feet tall, so any privacy shrubs or trees you choose should be at least this tall and preferable taller.

    If you live on a street where trucks routinely drive by, would a 6 foot tall shrub give you enough privacy? Maybe so, but maybe not.

  3. Topping:

    We've seen many yards where homeowners have "topped" their shrubs and/or trees. This is the process of cutting off the top. This removes the plant's leader, the central trunk or branch from which all other branches grow.

    This is done because some homeowners don't want their trees or shrubs to grow to full height, reasoning that they will get enough privacy with a shorter plant.

    There is nothing wrong with topping, if that's the look you want and in fact, many "hedges" you may see are often the result of several trees or shrubs growing together and topped to remain at a certain height.

    If you want to top your shrubs or trees, you must keep in mind that they will continue to grow horizontally to their full width and could be trimmed to keep them to a certain width. If this is the look you want, we say go for it.

    If you're not sure how to plant shrubs, we have an excellent article that describes the process in great detail. Click here to read that article.

    As you see other lists posted elsewhere, be sure you think about those factors as well as others we'll mention below.

The Best 8 Shrubs For Privacy

Below then, are good choices for privacy shrubs. All are evergreen and all grow to 6 feet tall or larger.

#1: Arborvitea:

image of one of the best shrubs for privacy the arborviteaGrowth: 15 Feet
Light: Full Sun To Partial Shade
Zones: 3-8

One of the most popular choices for use as a privacy shrub, arborviteas grow in a tall, slender shape with very dense foliage - you cannot see through this plant at all.

Their grown rates is slow to average, possibly 6 inches per year. Therefore, if you want privacy in a hurry, it may not be the best choice.

However, you can purchase larger plants that will start out giving some presence and some amount of privacy right from the beginnin.

One problem with arborviteas is that they are not very forgiving with snow - branches will often times be broken when heavy snow rests on them. Therefore, if you live in an area that routinely gets snow, you'll have to clear the branches before they are damaged.

This problem becomes even more significant the larger they get. Because they grow with mulitple leaders (aka trunks), heavy snow will often times bend the trunks down in a different direction, creating a look that's spread out, instead of growing together as one.

The image above shows an arborvitea with this vary problem. Despite looking like 2, this is one plant.

Despite those disavantages, they do make great privacy shrubs

#2 - Thuja Green Giant:

thuja green giant shrubGrowth: up to 50 feet
Light: full sun to full shade
Zones: 5-8

Thujas are part of the arborvitea family, and the green giant variety is one of the most popular.

Thujas resemble a Christmas tree, which is a beautiful look and one that's highly valuable. Unlike the regular arborvitea, thujas grow with one single trunk in the center and are not as susceptible to snow, although they still should be cleared of heavy snow to preserve their health.

If you're browsing your local garden center, you'll usually see and like them but be careful where you plant them.

Thujas grow to 50 feet, which is quite large. They can be topped if you want to keep their height in check, but doing so will take away that attractive "Christmas tree" look.

These plants grow relatively slowly, about 6 inches per year. Because of this they need relatively little care. Just keep them watered until they are established and you'll be good to go.

#3 - Leyland Cypress:

good shrub for privacy leyland cypressGrowth: up to 50 feet
Light: Full Sun, Does Not Tolerate Shade
Zones: 6-10

Leyland cypress is a popular privacy shrub for many reasons, not the least of which is it's a fast grower. Indeed, it can grow 2-3 feet per year, which makes it a good choice if you want a privacy hedge rather quickly.

Leyland cypress growth habits also resemble a Christmas tree.   Although their needle and branches vary from the thuja noted above, they look fairly similar. Many people, including yours truly, like the look of these beautiful evergreens.

There are however, a few disadvantages to these trees.

  1. Growth Rate: Because they grow so quickly, you may have to trim them regularly, at least once per year, depending on their planting location and your needs.
  2. Shallow Roots: Leylands do not have deep roots. Therefore, they are suseptable to falling over, especially in high winds or when first planted. In addition, the heavy weight of snow may damage branches or cause them to topple if the weight is all to one side. For this reason, it may be wise to stake and tie them down when planting.
  3. Disease: These trees are also susceptible to disease and insects. A fungeus called "canker" will cause dead sections, which should be pruned off and your pruners disinfected between cuttings so as not to spread the fungus. In addition, spider mites and bagworms can also infest these trees and should be delt with immediately if they occur.

Disadvantages aside, leyland cypress is a very desirable choice and will do well most of the time when used as a shrub for privacy.

You can see in the image this row of leyland cypress borders a road.  What is on the other side of this road?  You wouldn't know if you drove by because they give total privacy.  This picture was taken for this article and it was about 3 years after they were planted as 4 ft shrubs.  You can see how big they have grown in 3-4 short years.  Plenty of privacy for sure.

#4 - English Holly:

english holly imageGrowth: 15-50 feet
Light: Full Sun To Partial Shade
Zones: 6-9

There are many varieties of holly. Some are shrubs that remain small. Others are trees that grow to 50 feet. Still others are somewhere in between.

You may have seen hollies used as privacy shrubs in various locations as they are quite popular. Many times, they will be topped into a large hedge - also a valid use and something to consider if you've planted a variety that grows too tall for your location.

The American holly is the one we are recommending here. As you probably know from their uses in Christmas decorations, American hollies usually sport dark green, waxy looking leaves and produce red berries in the fall.

PRO TIP: Although birds like them, the American holly berries are poisonous to humans, so be sure not to plant them where young children may play or be exposed.

Their leaves are quite prickly, which is a disadvantage when trying to prune it. However, pair of thick work gloves will quickly remedy that situation.

#5 - Frasers Photinia:

photinia shrub imageGrowth: 8-15 feet
Light: Full Sun To Partial Shade
Zones: 6-9

Often called the "red tip photinia," this plant's leaves on new growth sport a redish color, after which time they turn deep green.

This is one of the best shrubs for privacy because it requires little to no care as long as it's planted in the correct location. It also needs more water than many other shrubs, especially if newly planted or in periods of drought. Therefore, you may have to keep up with watering.

It grows fairly slowly, 6-12 inches per year and planting several in a row will result in an attractive privacy hedge with red tipped leaves.

We would consider photinia a medium sizeds shrub which means it will usually not need trimming to keep it's size under control.

#6 - Schip (Skip) Laurel

pic of one of the best shrubs for privacy skip laurelGrowth: 6-10 Feet
Light: Full Sun To Partial Shade

This plant is part of the Cherry Laurel species and often times referred to as "skip laurel" as a reference to it's latin name of Schipka laurel.

This is another excellent choice for a privacy hedge because it grows quickly, with means, depending on it's size when planting, you could create a privacy screen in only a few years.

The skip laurel prefers partial shade but will also grow in filtered light, where it's not in full sun for 8+ hours per day.

#7 - Japanese Pieris:

japanese pieresGrowth: 10-12 Feet
Light: Partial Shade To Full Shade
Zones: 5-9

Also called "andromeda," japanese pieris are a classic feature in many asian gardens. It blooms in the spring with beautiful while flowers that are similar to "lilly of the valley" flowers that weep downward in graceful arcs.

This is one of the few privacy shrubs that can be grown in shade gardens so if your garden is shady, you might want to try it

We'd recommend purchasing larger plants to start, as they grow slowly and don't grow exceptionally tall - only 12 feet, and they'll take a while to get to that height.

In addition, their foliage will tend to be a little thinner than other privacy shrubs, so it may not provide a full blocking but nonetheless, it will make a beautiful addition if you don't need full blocking but just provide the illusion of a privacy plant.

#8 - Euonymus:

euonymus shrub after trimmingGrowth: 6-8 Feet
Light: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 6-9

Euonymus is a popular plant that is used in many gardens today.

There are many varieties. Some dwarf varieties stay small. Other varieties, such as the popular "wintercreeper" are vines. For privacy you'll want to look for the shrub varieties that grow over 6 feet tall.

One of those is "golden euonymus" which has varigated green and yellow leaves. This variety is probably the most popular variety of euonymus planted today. However, the other we'd recommend is "green spire euonymus" which sports solid green leaves. Both grow at least 6 feet tall and retain their leaves over the winter.

Be sure to check the variety your buying to make sure it meets your needs. Reading the plant tag will tell you which it is.

The pic gives you a great idea of the solid green leafed variety, grown to the top of the fence. Planted in a row, these will make one of the best shrubs for privacy on the list because their foliage is dense and stays on the plant all year.

As a side note, one variety of euonymus, called "burning bush" is quite popular because it provides privacy as well and the leaves turn a firey red in autumn. However, because it's leaves fall off, we are not including it here in this write up because it offers no privacy in the winter.

Euonymus in general require very little care and are quite hardy to a variety of conditions.

It's a plant that would be an excellent choice as one ofr the best shrubs for privacy.

The Best Privacy Shrubs For You

Only you can determine the best shrubs for your own needs.

As we've mentioned here before, you best option is to visit your local garden center - and I'm talking about an actual garden center that stocks a wide variety of plants - not your local big box store.

These garden centers will probably have a lot of varieties of the different shrubs we've mentioned here and you'll be able to see and touch them yourself. It's the best way to make a good choice.

By all means, if you need privacy from your neighbors because you could reach out and touch them from your bedroom window, look into planting privacy shrubs, and check out the ones on our list.

For more information on other plants to include in your landscape, visit this article here.
To learn the correct method for planting shrubs while avoiding this one common mistake,  read this article here.

Happy gardening.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)