Garden Design · Perennials · Shrubs

Planting for Privacy


Neighbors are wonderful. They are nearby for impromptu gatherings around the fire pit. They get your mail and water your plants when you are on vacation. Their kids may even help you weed in the summer or shovel the snow from your driveway in winter. And, of course, they stand ready to save dinner when you discover you are missing a necessary ingredient.


I live in a lovely country subdivision – the kind where you can display pumpkins out by the street and they won’t be stolen or smashed on the asphalt. And while I enjoy conversations with my neighbors, I prefer to be unnoticed in my backyard. A tall stockade fence would be a quick solution, but instead I created a beautiful living screen.

The shape and texture of Thuja 'Techny' is more natural and coarse than the popular 'Emerald Green'.
The shape and texture of Thuja ‘Techny’ is more natural and coarse than the popular ‘Emerald Green’.

Evergreens provide year round privacy. Emerald Green arborvitaes are a popular choice, but I prefer the looser, more natural look of Techny.

Thuja 'Spring Grove' grows faster than all other arborvitaes in my landscape.
Thuja ‘Spring Grove’ grows faster than all other arborvitaes in my landscape.

Spring Grove is a fast-growing arborvitae with dark, glossy green foliage and excellent winter color. Spring Grove grew twice as fast as the other arborvitaes in my landscape.

I could have planted a row of these evergreens to solve my privacy challenge, but this solution lacks creativity so I included some deciduous trees and shrubs.

The peeling bark of a river birch provides winter interest.

A river birch quickly grew to forty feet tall. In the fall, it shows off intense yellow leaves before dropping them to reveal its magnificent exfoliating bark.

Seven sons flower has year round appeal.

Heptacodium miconioides, commonly known as seven sons flower, is one of my favorite large shrubs. Its fragrant white flowers in late summer are pretty, but the rosy-pink calyxes are a showstopper in fall. Its peeling bark continues to delight after the leaves have fallen.

Birds love the berries as much as I love the fall color of chokeberries.

A trio of chokeberries boasts three seasons of interest – white flowers in May, berries in late summer, and brilliant fall color.

Red berries shine like jewels on winterberries.

I recently added a group of Red Sprite winterberry. I couldn’t pass up the small shrubs with red berries lining the branches.

The flowers of Limelight hydrangea are just as beautiful as they fade to deep pink in fall.

A Limelight hydrangea offers soft green flowers in summer that fade to rich, deep pink in fall.

Joe-pye weed is one of my favorite perennials.

There are many tall perennials that mingle beautifully with the woody plants. Joe-Pye weed grows quickly up to six feet tall. Mauve flowers top purple-tinted dark green foliage in August and September.

Ironweed stands tall in the border.

Ironweed is another garden giant. Sturdy six foot stems present small, bright purple flowers beginning in August. Be sure to deadhead ironweed before it has a chance to spread seed across the garden.

Miscanthus floridulus is the tallest ornamental grass in my landscape.

Ornamental grasses are a natural choice for screening. Giant Chinese Silver Grass, botanically named Miscanthus floridulus, features layers of robust, bamboo-like foliage that blush with purple in the fall. It grows quickly to ten feet. I swear if I pulled up a lawn chair, I could watch it grow.

These are just a sampling of the plants I chose to build a pleasing wall of privacy in my backyard. With a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs and perennials, I am able to enjoy my neighbors and my solitude, too. Which plants do you use to screen unwanted views or create privacy? Share your favorites and garden with me!








Leave a Reply

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