Create a Privacy Hedge with Shrubs
Choosing the Right Shrubs for Privacy Hedges
Hedges are an easy way to block an unattractive view or to create a privacy barrier between your yard and your neighbor. You can use shorter hedges to line a drive or a walkway. Or, you can grow a tall hedge to serve as a privacy screen, windbreak, reduce noise and block unwanted views. Hedges can be considered Living Walls and can be used to create garden rooms. There are so many options out there we thought we’d make it easier on you by sharing some basic information about creating a privacy hedge, along with our top choices for the best shrubs to use.
Selecting Shrubs for your Privacy Hedge
Both evergreen and deciduous shrubs can be used to create privacy hedges.
Evergreen shrubs are great for reducing noise, increasing privacy and screening all year long. Evergreens also require little to no maintenance.
Deciduous shrubs have attractive flowers and can be quite the focal point. It’s like combining the beauty of a flowering shrub with perennial flower plantings. They offer a wider variety of landscaping elements, including spring flowers or fall colors, but do not provide a year-round screen.
Trimming Shrubs for Hedges
Hedges can be more formal by keeping them trimmed and sculpted or you can plant an informal hedge by using upright, rather dense-growing shrubs. If you choose a formal hedge, plan on spending time shaping the bushes each year so they’ll look neat and tidy. If leaving things alone is better for you, choose an informal version that is either one low-maintenance variety or a combo of privacy bushes.
When pruning shrubs for hedges consider that what you are truly creating is a living Privacy Fence. For tall shrubs keep in mind you will need to trim them from time to time so when choosing your shrubs be sure to consider the height at which you want to maintain the hedge.
Choosing a location for your Privacy Hedge
After determining what type and style shrubs you want, the next step is to figure out how much space you have available. If you have a large amount of space available you may consider making a double or triple row. When planted in rows close together, shrubs will not spread out as wide as if they were a single species in a landscape.
Because shrub roots grow down and laterally, the bigger the plant, the longer the roots. It’s important to remember this if you are planting near a sidewalk, foundation, pool or driveway. The mature size of the shrub is important to keep in mind. Find out so you can be sure you are choosing the correct location for your plants. Plus, you’ll need to plan space between the plants to account for spread.
Fast Growing Shrubs for Creating a Privacy Hedge
Here are our top choices for shrubs for your privacy hedge:
Privet is the ideal privacy hedge shrub. This fast-growing evergreen shrub will get up to 8-10 ft tall and 5-7ft wide. It has green leaves, small fragrant white flowers and does well in sun or part shade. You can opt for an informal look or prune for a more formal shape. Privets grow where other plants fail and can be pruned to fit wherever. They make a great windbreak shrub.
The Nellie Stevens Holly, with its bright red berries, provides you with an attractive fast-growing evergreen shrub option that the birds love. They are low maintenance and don’t require much pruning except if you want to curtail growth. Their natural pyramid shape is beautiful. Full sun with slightly acidic soil is what they desire. They can be grown as a small tree and can reach heights of up to 15 feet tall.
Boxwood is a great shrub for a more formal looking hedge. This hardy evergreen responds well to trimming and can be shaped to fit whatever space or design you have and even works as a topiary or in containers. Boxwood will grow 2-3 ft in height and 2-3 ft in width and thrives in full to partial sun. If you're looking to create a tight, close hedge pay attention to spacing. Place your plants half as far away from one another as the mature width and they will fill in nicely.
The forsythia is a springtime delight with bright yellow flowers. This deciduous shrub grows incredibly fast and gives color at a time when everything else is still brown. They are planted with ease and can grow about 2 feet a year both in length and in width. They like full sunlight and aren’t particularly fussy about the soil. They are hardy and can handle pollution well and don’t require much watering.
This deciduous shrub grows up to 8 ft tall and spreads several feet. It has beautiful leaves and berries, with white flowers in summer and red branches in winter. This beauty provides year-round interest, attracts birds, tolerates wet soil and all sun conditions.
A popular, fast growing evergreen shrub that is often used as a fence row or hedge. Its leaves start red and have small white flowers in the spring that produce red fruits that often last into the winter. Be sure to provide well-drained soil and full sun. Photinia also tolerates part shade. Prune in the winter to thin and again in spring after red growth begins to fade in order to encourage additional growth.
Otto Luyken Cherry Laurel grows shorter than other cherry laurels but produces fragrant white flowers and shiny black fruit which birds and butterflies adore. The ornamental dark green foliage makes Prunus laurocerasus one of the best low growing privacy hedges.