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What are Barrier Plants?

Gayle R.
Gayle R.

Barrier plants provide a delineation of a boundary, or a barricade against unwanted entrance. They can provide a shield for unsightly yards or vegetation, can create a barrier for sound, and can hinder unwanted intruders who want to gain access to a house or business. The type of protection desired determines which type of barrier plants to use in a specific environment.

There are many uses for barrier plants. People living on corner properties may want to erect sight and access barriers. Those living near highways or high traffic thoroughfares might want to use barrier plants to reduce the sound of passing cars. Some types of barrier plants can restrict pests and predators from accessing a property.

Climbing vines, like jasmine, can make good barrier plants.
Climbing vines, like jasmine, can make good barrier plants.

Plants that restrict access are typically waist-high or higher. They are often dense and have spikes or thorns. Thick hedge-like growths can make an effective barricade against many types of intruders. A wide strip of thick, prickly ground cover can also deter access from people and animals.

To block views and hide clotheslines or garbage cans, tall, dense plants are the best choice. Evergreen trees or shrubs planted in tight groups can screen a property from outsiders. Deciduous trees and shrubs can also create an effective screen, but remember that the leaves disappear in the fall and winter. Hedges make a good natural barrier although it takes a lot of work to keep them looking nice. They can grow to 10 feet or more so they not only are effective for screening, they also can prevent outside access.

Trees are often used to block out noise.
Trees are often used to block out noise.

For a more decorative barrier, flowering shrubs, or perennials can be used. Examples include azalea, camellia, bush roses, holly, jasmine, and dogwood. Other options might include vines and climbing plants such as trumpet vine, English ivy, or morning glory can be trained up a trellis or fence to provide a screen or sight barrier. Tall ornamental grasses can also be used as barrier plants, especially when interspersed with other types of plants, trees, or shrubs. Large, thick-leaved plants such as bromeliads, some types of cactus, or lilac can absorb sound as well as provide privacy.

Ivy grows quickly, providing a barrier along fences or walls.
Ivy grows quickly, providing a barrier along fences or walls.

Whatever types of plants are used as barrier plants, they must be chosen carefully. Take into consideration how big they will grow, whether they lose their leaves, what type of soil they require, and how much water and trimming they require. It's also important to consider neighboring structures or property so you don't restrict public access, views, or sunlight.

Discussion Comments


My bank has a decorative plant barrier lining its parking lot. They pay a landscaping company to plant seasonal flowers and switch them out as needed. It is a bright spot in a land of concrete.

In spring, they have gorgeous, multicolored tulips. Once those fade, they are replaced with begonias and impatiens. These bloom throughout the summer, but if any of them die, they are removed and replaced.

During the fall, chrysanthemums fill the spot. In winter, bright pansies make the place cheerful.

I know the city appreciates this colorful plot. It sure brightens my day when driving past it.


@Perdido – Living in such a public place must be hard for her. I'm glad she was able to block out her neighbors with greenery.

I don't think I would handle living in a crowded area very well. I would definitely erect a privacy barrier. I saw one at someone's house on the street where I work that I would love to copy.

This person had white latticework lining her yard. She had big purple rose vines growing in between the latticework. It helped fill the spaces in the fence, and it was so beautiful.

The community always appreciates it when you plant things to beautify and oxygenate the neighborhood. I know I would be a major gardener if I lived in a cramped space with a small yard.


My friend's house is close to the street, so she has barrier plants for a bit of privacy. The neighbors are a bit nosy, so she planted evergreen trees as a sort of pedestrian barrier.

She has big cedar trees that look like Christmas trees lining the front of her property. In front of these, she has some cedar bushes to block the low spaces not covered by the trees.

Since her driveway is sort of off to the side, you really can't see her house unless you walk up it. She has done an excellent job of hiding herself!


There is a fruit-bearing thorn bush growing wild in my neighbor's pasture that would make an excellent barrier plant. It would severely damage anything that tried to pass through it.

The bush is about seven feet high. The thorns are over an inch long and thick. The fruit looks like a lemon, but it is perfectly round and fuzzy.

I cut one open just to see what it was like inside, and it smelled and looked just like a lemon. My dog licked it, and it gave her ulcers in her mouth, so I wouldn't recommend eating it!

If I were afraid of unwanted visitors, I would definitely plant these bushes around my yard. They would probably serve as a good fence to keep my dog from wandering off, as well!

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    • Climbing vines, like jasmine, can make good barrier plants.
      By: nadsud
      Climbing vines, like jasmine, can make good barrier plants.
    • Trees are often used to block out noise.
      By: pyzata
      Trees are often used to block out noise.
    • Ivy grows quickly, providing a barrier along fences or walls.
      By: Only Fabrizio
      Ivy grows quickly, providing a barrier along fences or walls.