Privacy with Plants

Privacy is a big concern in our gardens. While we love our neighbors (ok, we hope to be lucky enough to love our neighbors), having that private space when you are outside is important to what a garden is all about. None of us want to build a ten foot wall all around our property, but fortunately, there is a better way. Using plants to create privacy is not only a friendly way to keep out prying eyes of passers-by, it also makes your garden space more green! And who doesn’t want more green in a garden? No matter what your style or taste, there are plants that can be used in the ground or in movable containers, that stand on their own, or can be trained to grow up and over a structure. Use evergreen for year round privacy, or use a plant that drops it’s leaves in the winter and let’s in all that light. (Are you really gonna be out by the pool then anyway?)) Think ornamental grasses or climbing vines, trees, bamboo or shrub hedges. Whatever the privacy needs are for your space, there is a plant that can provide it! Our feature photo below, is a great example of using a hedge row of ornamental grass as a privacy fence. Photo from ‘Knibb Design‘.

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Want an evergreen choice that doesn’t look like a Christmas tree? Try “Dwarf English Laurel”, like in this photo from ‘The Tree Center‘. Glossy green shrubs like these grow in a tight and dense form, giving you complete privacy. Ask at your local nursery for a broad leaf evergreen shrub that grows 4-6 feet tall that works well in your area.

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A lot of us love bamboo, but it can be a lot of maintenance if you plant it in the ground, as many kinds spread out of control very quickly. You can remedy that by only planting clumping bamboo, (check the nursery tag) or better yet, plant it in pots. It makes a light and airy privacy screen that can be moved where needed. We couldn’t find a source for this photo, so if you know where it’s from, please email us!

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From ‘Hometalk‘, this flowering privacy wall was installed by a contractor, but there are plenty of “Living Wall” planter products available that would make a version of this DIY’able. Keep in mind, depending on where you live and what flower you plant, this wall may only be pretty 3 seasons a year.

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This plant privacy idea from ‘Ivy Clad‘ is using the technique of “pleaching”. Apparently around since ancient times, pleaching involves weaving the overhead branches of plants together so that they form one unit. This is great for keeping the feeling of the garden open, yet blocking off unsightly views at eye level. Plus, it just looks so cool. ;)

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From ‘Botanical Events‘, these fruit trees have been espaliered onto a trellis in planters for a really gorgeous privacy screen that is edible! I imagine the blossoms on these trees smell (and look!) heavenly in the spring as well.

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In the western U.S., one of the most common evergreen shrubs is the emerald green ‘Arborvitae’. Why? Because they make excellent year round screening. Plant a hedge of them along a property line, or group 3-5 in a corner to block off a less than desirable element in the neighbors yard. Photo by ‘Old Heritage Garden Center‘.

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More modern plants can be used for privacy as well. These horsetail plants have been around since the dawn of time, and make a great architectural statement in the garden. Photo from ‘Revive Landscape‘ by Lori Brookes.

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This vertical garden from ‘Balcony of Dreams‘ is created inexpensively with garden netting and climbing plants. Great for urban areas as the plants are in pots and offer greenery to all the neighboring families.

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Another option for climbing plants is to use the evergreen English ivy. These living fences from ‘Impact Plants‘ give you year round privacy screens with an English garden look.

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Image Credits: Knibb Design, Tree Center, Hometalk, Ivy Clad, Botanical Events, Old Heritage Garden Center, Revive, Balcony of Dreams, Impact Plants




  1. GardenGlove Admirer says:

    Excellent suggestions!

  2. I love the ornamental grass featured in the article ‘Privacy With Plants’. I’m just wondering what variety of grass it is?
    Love the articles you feature in The Garden Glove. I produce a newsletter for my small, local garden club (in Australia) and get many good ideas from you.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      I wish we knew, I would take a stab at Miscanthus just because of the size, but it looks more compact than that… Anyone have ideas?

  3. I love the idea of plants for creating screens, especially the ornamental grass. In one picture I saw some kind of weaving of the blades. How is that done I wonder.

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