Creative Screening For Privacy

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Everyone likes a little privacy. We want to feel like at least some part of our garden is a private oasis, a place where we can go to relax and leave the cares of the world behind. That doesn't necessarily mean building a fortress of walls around your yard. In fact, there are many creative options for privacy screening.

Here are some things to consider as you begin. First, what are your screening needs?

  • Do you prefer a formal hedge or plantings that blend into the landscape?
  • Do you need to cover the entire length of your property line or will you screen only one area?
  • Do you want to block views from overhead, such as from a neighbor’s deck or windows?

When you have determined your basic screening needs, ask yourself a few more questions:

  • Do you want year-round or seasonal coverage?
  • How tall and wide would you like your plantings to grow?

Don't forget to consider multiple angles of coverage as well. View the site from different angles to be sure you are covered from all sides.

You may also want to think about a temporary solution while waiting for your plants to fill in, such as bamboo or brush fencing.

Formal Hedges

Yew hedge

Yew hedge

These plants offer a dense, geometric screen for formal hedges. They will need regular shearing maintenance (at least twice a year) to retain their shape:

  • Cupressus x leylandii
    • An individual specimen can grow to 30’ high x 20’ wide
    • A hedge can be pruned to 8’-10’ high x 4’ wide
    • plant at least 6’ apart
  • Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ (evergreen)
    • Individual or hedge, grows to 10'
    • Sun or shade
    • Can be shaped to any form

Informal Hedges

Lonicera nitida, Boxleaf Honeysuckle

Less formal but equally as dense, these plants need less shearing and maintenance and have a more natural shape:

  • Fargesiarufa (evergreen)
    •  A clumping bamboo that doesn’t spread!
    •  Grows to 10'
  • Nandina domestica
    • Individual or hedge
    • Great red/orange winter color
    • The look of bamboo but doesn’t spread
  • Lonicera nitida
    • Try the variety ‘Baggesson’s Gold’
    • Individual or hedge
    • Can be sheared to any width or depth
    • Versatile! Can handle sun, part shade, or shade

Narrow Spaces

Ilex Crenata, also called Japanese Holly and Sky Pencil

Ilex Crenata, also called Japanese Holly and Sky Pencil

For extremely limited, narrow spaces, these tall, narrow shrubs work well:

  • Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ (small evergreen)
  • Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’ (evergreen)
  • Cupressus ‘Wilma Goldcrest’
    • Bright gold foliage
    • 8’ x 3’ wide
    • Sun or part shade

Or consider structures like a trellis or arbor with smaller vines:

  • Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ (deciduous)
  • Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ (semi-evergreen)
  • Akebia quinata (semi-evergreen)
  • Clematis armandii (evergreen)
  • Hedera canariensis ‘Sulphur Heart’ (evergreen)
    • Sun or shade
  • x Fatshedera lizei cvs. (evergreen)
    • White flowers
    • Can handle full shade

Other Options

Weeping Beech Tree

Weeping Beech Tree

Weeping trees can also serve as a single architectural accent for screening:

  • Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Beech)
  • Tsuga ‘Sargent’s Weeping’ (Weeping Hemlock)
  • Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Alaska Cedar)

Also, consider large potted accents of the following, either singly or in rows:

  • Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forester’
    • 6’ h x 2’ w
  • Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’
  • Fargesia rufa

Now that you have a few screening options, experiment to find the best solution for your space. Formal or not, remember that all screening plants will need some maintenance to retain their form and thrive!

We'd also love to hear about your favorite screening plants and answer your screening questions! Comment below, email us at garden@swansonsnursery.com or chat with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - don't forget to use the hashtag #heyswansons.