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What are the Best Shrubs and Trees for Privacy?

By Licia Morrow
Updated May 16, 2024
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Shrubs and trees can be used in a garden to separate or screen the landscape for privacy, and can be a more affordable option than fences or other structures. Before planting shrubs and trees, it is important to understand the maximum height plants will reach, as well as the growth time it will take for the plants to reach full maturity. The following shrubs and trees are excellent shields for a garden and come in a range of varieties, sizes, and colors. Additionally, a planter must understand that deciduous shrubs and trees will lose their leaves during parts of the year, while evergreens will remain intact throughout the seasons.

Berberis, or Barberry, can be deciduous or evergreen, depending upon variety. Many varieties grow to be six feet (1.83 meters) tall, such as the Berberis buxifolia. Berberries typically require little garden care and can be grown in sun to light shade, with average watering. Many of the deciduous varieties can survive in difficult climate and soil conditions, making them hardy plants for difficult gardens.

Camellias are evergreen shrubs and trees that can grow as tall as 12 feet (3.66 meters) high, depending upon variety. There are over 3,000 types of camellias, each displaying a showing of bright blooms during certain parts of the growing season. This plant requires rich soil that is well-drained and is intolerant to hot sun and drying winds. Camellias must also be mulched regularly to keep roots cool.

Carissa, evergreen shrubs characterized by glossy leaves and 5-petal star-shaped blooms, can grow to as high as 30 feet (9.14 meters), depending upon variety. Some varieties also provide a fruit similar to a cranberry. They are drought tolerant in some areas, while requiring regular watering in others. These plants are easy to grow, but may require regular pruning to control erratic growth.

Magnolias can be either deciduous or evergreen and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They make excellent screens and barriers as some varieties can grow to as much as 80 feet (24,38 meters) tall, with 40-foot (12.19 meter) spreads. However, many take several years to become established, so it is important to understand the particular growth pattern for individual varieties. Magnolia grandiflora, characterized by green, glossy leaves and large, white flowers, is an evergreen that is tolerant of heat and damp soil. Deciduous Magnolia soulangiana is resistant to cold, but intolerant of hot, dry, windy areas.

Photinia, is a collection of shrubs and trees that come in a wide range of varieties, some deciduous and others evergreen. Some varieties, like the Photinia fraseri can grow to ten feet (3.05 meters) tall, with an additionally wide horizontal spread. This plant is related to the hawthorn and pyracantha plants, and contains attractive foliage and fruit. Many varieties require pruning, and most varieties need healthy garden soil and plenty of sun.

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Discussion Comments
By Domido — On May 06, 2011

I have been longing for a privacy fence for years so that we can shield out prying eyes, and I’ve wanted one even more since we put in our kid’s pool.

I don’t know why, but until right now, I never thought of privacy hedges! I think that I’m going to give some flowering shrubs and trees a try – maybe with the magnolias like were listed above. Now I’m uber excited, because I think we can actually afford this!

By Agni3 — On May 03, 2011

I have also found that gardenias are quite nice hedges for privacy. I stumbled upon this little tidbit of information quite by accident. I bought a few gardenias because I like the smell of the flowers, and planted a few at the edge of our yard. In just a couple of years, they are almost as tall as me (I’m 5’1” tall) and are every bit of three feet wide. They are the biggest shrubs and bushes that I have!

I honestly didn’t know then, and I don’t know now, what type of shrub they are; but I know that mine don’t lose their leaves. They have been really great to have for the privacy – as a matter of fact, I have plans to surround my whole acre yard with them!

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