Ditch the Privacy Fence and Use Plants Instead

If you aren’t crazy about wood or metal fencing separating you from your neighbors, there are ways to achieve privacy with plants.

The post Ditch the Privacy Fence and Use Plants Instead appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.

arborvitae shrubs privacy screen
Green Emerald Arborvitae (right) create a spectacular privacy screen.

By Guest Author Rachel Perez

Our homes are safe havens and special to us. While we want to be neighborly, it’s understandable why we value privacy.

For those of us who aren’t crazy about wood or metal fencing separating us from our neighbors, there are ways to achieve privacy with plants.

Plants, like trees and shrubs, are great screens and covers. From hedgerows to lines of potted shrubs, plants make and accentuate fences, walls, borders, and other privacy elements. As borders, their lush foliage helps avoid any of the glaring or obtrusive characteristics of walls or fences (or the cost and maintenance). Here are three great ways to incorporate plants for added privacy around your home.

Native plants are best for privacy screens

For the lowest maintenance and longest plant life, choose native plants that are adapted to your particular hardiness zone. Additionally, native flora provide habitats for local wildlife (and who doesn’t love to hear birds singing?). Here are a few choices for plants that are fantastic for creating a natural border. Each may or may not be native to your area:

  • Emerald Arborvitaes are slow-growing, but make excellent walls up to 15 feet high. Native to eastern Canada and much of the north-central and northeastern United States.
  • Skip Laurels are broad and more manageable, though they can still grow past 10 feet tall. Native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • Pruned and managed bushes of Holly create hedge walls for year-round privacy and decoration. Native to many parts of the world, depending on species.
  • Redosier (red-twig) Dogwood trades privacy for curb appeal in the winter. Once it drops its leaves, the bright red branches create a striking look, especially against the snow. (many varieties are native to North America)
  • Yews planted along a border and left to grow to their full height without annual pruning create a wall of dense and beautiful shrubbery. Native to central and eastern North America and parts of Europe)

There are plenty of shrub and tree options for outright seclusion. Some, such as hedge walls, provide added privacy without shutting out the neighbors. Plants are also great option for bridging gaps in property fencing. Plus, they offer a pleasing aesthetic when combined with existing fencing.

Instead of trees, living fences provide many customizable and permanent privacy options. They grow faster than trees, and they are easy to achieve with a bit of planning.

Consider your privacy goals. For total concealment, use dense bushes or shrubs for an impenetrable wall. Low-cut hedges or natural thickets create depth, coverage, and property value for a less intimate and more ornate look.

One downside to a living fence is the time required to grow it. In that case, living alternatives are a great option. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that provides shade and cover, and it works great with other plants in a living system.

Likewise, trellises and raised beds create natural screens. Use creeping plants, reeds, or flowers to customize your privacy. You can also try modular options like potted shrubs or topiaries. These can move with your daily needs, such as weather conditions or safe areas for children.