Planting for Privacy
Spending time outdoors is a wonderful way to unwind — until the nosy neighbor wants to chat. Here are a few ideas for creating a cozier, more private backyard using plants.
Containers: A Quick Fix
Most of our suggestions will take some time to fill in and block your neighbor’s view. Plants in containers can provide a quicker solution. Group together a variety of pots in different sizes and colors, and fill them with plants of varying heights and maturity. Use plant stands, walls, or other flat surfaces to set containers on and create even more height as needed.
Plants to consider for your container grouping:
- Japanese maple
- Rose of Sharon
- Fountain grass
*A note on bamboo: The good thing about bamboo? It grows fast. The bad thing? It grows fast and spreads! Planting it in a pot keeps it contained so it doesn’t get out of control and choke neighboring plants.
Vines & Climbers
These plants are best paired with backyard structures such as trellises, fences, arbors, or pergolas, which add a level of privacy all their own. Climbers such as roses, clematis, and ivy can provide an especially thick screen as they fill in. And while vines such as black-eyed Susan and morning glory are always popular, hop vines are a striking, unusual choice that also provide privacy.
Pergolas also provide an ideal spot for hanging baskets. Consider filling them with trailing plants such as petunias, lobelia, sweet potato vine — or even cherry tomatoes.
Bushy shrubs are a popular choice for filling in large spaces around a yard’s perimeter. A few of our recommendations include boxwood, a dense shrub with evergreen foliage that can grow as tall (and wide) as 15 to 20 feet; rhododendron, a dense flowering shrub; and viburnum, which is semi-evergreen with red fruit and fragrant flowers. The height of viburnum varies widely, so be sure to ask for a recommendation when you purchase your plants. Shrub roses are also a popular choice.
This privacy tactic won’t pay off overnight, but it can be an effective long-term solution. Deciduous trees provide a canopy that still allows some light through its foliage. Evergreens with a thick, dense growth habit provide more privacy, though less light. Mixing the two types of trees creates a “privacy screen” that has an interesting mix of textures and still allows dappled sunlight to enter your yard.
Just a few popular trees for privacy include: