This article was reviewed by Steve Snedeker, professional landscaper.
17 Best Shrubs And Bushes For Providing Privacy
Let's dive right into the list.
Arborvitae (Thuja spp.) is an evergreen member of the cypress family. These fast-growing, easy to care for plants, are one of the most popular shrubs for privacy screens. Arborvitae is wonderful planted along a roadway because the growth is more upright than outspread. There are varieties for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-11, though additional varieties are available in colder regions. Deer and bagworms are attracted to arborvitae, and this plant doesn't tolerate drought.
Boxwood (Buxus) is an evergreen shrub used to create hedges, topiaries, and areas of deep green in the landscape. Boxwoods grow quickly but are also very amenable to pruning and trimming. These shrubs can be trained into unique shapes. Some varieties grow as tall as 16-feet making them perfect for privacy hedges. Boxwood does well in either shade or sun and is best to plant in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9. English Boxwood has fallen prey to blight in recent years, so though it's been the most popular for topiaries and formal gardens, you might also consider alternatives.
Privet (Ligustrum Vulgare) is a shrub that is both evergreen and deciduous, depending on where it's planted. This plant is hardy in USDA Zones 5-8. It can occasionally be grown in Zone 4 but may need winter protection. In more northerly zones, privet will lose its small leaves during the winter. On its own, privet is a fairly nondescript plant, but when planted together, it makes a lovely hedge. In the spring, it gets white blooms, but also produces black colored berries. Birds spread the berries, making it a bit of an invasive plant at times. It does well in full to part sun and prefers slightly moist soil.
4. English Yew
English yew or Taxus baccata may be grown as either a shrub or a tree at heights reaching as tall as 25-feet. It is often located in churchyards and cemeteries. English yew is an evergreen and produces a berry that is poisonous to humans. It grows in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-8. This shrub prefers partial sun to shade.
Hydrangea (from the family Hydrangeaceae) is a gorgeous flowering shrub that comes in many different varieties. The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words "hydro" (water) and "angos" (vessel). This is because hydrangeas are known for needing lots of water and also have somewhat cup-shaped flowers. There are popular varieties for almost every USDA gardening zone. These are deciduous plants, so they will lose their leaves in the winter but abound during summer. They need moist soil and most like a morning sun with afternoon shade combination.
6. Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a flowering tree or shrub of the Hibiscus family. It's a deciduous plant, losing its leaves in the winter and regenerates during early spring. The flowers, which come in several colors, bloom in early summer. These plants are hardy and easy to grow in Zones 5-9. They prefer full sun and partial shade and acidic, moist, and well-drained soil. As a lovely bonus, beautiful hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to them.
Beautiful Rose of Sharon comes in purple varieties as well.
7. Cherry Laurel
Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows up to 20' tall and is dense and wide-spreading. It will spread about twice as wide as it grows tall. Overwhelmingly fragrant blooms adorn this shrub in the spring. It's fairly tolerant of deer but is susceptible to some diseases. It grows in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6B-8A and prefers shady areas to sunny areas. This plant is also very tolerant of heavy pruning.
8. Bay Laurel
Bay Laurel (Laurus Nobilis) is an aromatic, flowering evergreen tree or shrub. The oval-shaped green leaves are the same bay leaves you use for spicing up a pot of soup or gumbo. This is a slow-growing plant, so if you want an immediate privacy hedge, it may not be the right choice. But if you can wait, the smell alone makes it worth it. This plant is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9, prefers sun to partial shade and neutral soil.
Leylandii, short for Cupressocyparis leylandii, is another fast-growing conifer often used for hedges and windscreens. It's easy to grow and maintain, though a yearly pruning does help it keep a pleasing shape. Leylandii likes warmer weather and does best planted in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10.
10. Butterfly Bush
The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is a beautiful deciduous shrub. Though it does lose its leaves in the winter, it rewards you through the summer with elegant feathery blooms that attract butterflies by the score. Butterfly bush loves fertile, well-drained soil and full sun growing conditions. This shrub is hardy to Zone 5 and will remain evergreen in Zone 8 or below.
Lilac bushes (Syringa vulgaris) are deciduous shrubs that produce beautifully fragrant lilac-colored blooms for two weeks during the late spring. If you overlap varieties that bloom at slightly different times, you can extend the blooming time to six weeks. They're hardy, easy to grow, and require little maintenance. Lilacs grow in USDA Zones 2-7. They prefer full sun to partial sun and can handle many different soil situations. At maximum height, they grow from 5- to 15-feet, providing a substantial amount of privacy. Lore has it that lilacs symbolize the joy of youth.
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.) is best known for its rush of golden yellow blooms in the early spring. One of the first shrubs to bloom each year, Forsythia, makes a gorgeous addition as a privacy shrub. They are deciduous, so lose their leaves in the winter. Good for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-8, the Forsythia welcomes bees, butterflies, and birds to its blooms. This is a wild-looking shrub for those who prefer a woodland look over a super manicured look.
Spirea (Spiraea species) is an easy shrub to grow. They're fast-growing bloomers that do best in full sun. Plant sizes vary depending upon the cultivar, but you'll find certain spirea that grows up to 8' tall, which makes for a great privacy shrub. In the deep south, Spirea won't lose its leaves. In the upper south, the leaves will turn a beautiful red-orange in the fall. Blooms come relatively early in the spring, and perhaps the showiest of the spirea are those with masses of white flowers like the Reeves Spirea or Baby's Breath Spirea
Snowmound Spirea is another gorgeous white variety.
Euonymus from the family Celastraceae is a flowering plant in the staff vine family. Common names vary from burning bush to strawberry bush to wahoo plant. Lately, this plant has been added to a potential list of invasive plants in North America, and some gardeners are recommending to avoid it. However, this shrub provides a gorgeous fire of color in the fall. It's tolerant of many soil types but prefers it to be moist and well-drained. A slow grower, you can find Euonymus in USDA Zones 4-8.
There are two types of bamboo plants used for hedge privacy. Clumping bamboo is grown in the Southern U.S. in Zones 8-11, whereas cold-hardy running bamboo is used in more northerly climates. All of the bamboo plants grow super quickly and spread as well. It requires some maintenance to contain it to the area where you want it to grow. Bamboo can tolerate sun or shade depending upon the variety chosen.
Juniper (Juniperus) is a coniferous shrub or tree used for hedges and privacy. Blue Point Juniper is one of the more common varieties used for windbreaks or privacy as it grows up to 14' in height and spreads to as much as 8' in width. This juniper prefers full sun and well-drained soil to keep it happy. It's deer-resistant and reliably hardy as well. Juniper is a beautiful addition to any landscape.
Holly shrub (Ilex) is a genus that contains over 400 species. It has shiny dark leaves with prickly edges, and many produce berries associated with winter holidays. Some holly bushes can grow as high as 70' tall, but there are smaller varieties. All will need some occasional pruning to keep them to the size you'd like. Holly bushes like full sun and well-drained acidic soil. You can find many hollies available for Zones 4-9.
Seventeen Great Privacy Shrubs
There you have it, seventeen fantastic shrubs to use for privacy. Whether you want something flowering or evergreen, one of these plants should do the trick.
For other great plant lists here at GardenTabs.com, please check out these below: