With the social lives we live today, both in person and online, privacy seems to be a thing of the past. Sometimes we have to retreat to the confines of our homes just to get a little peace and quiet. But with warm, sunny days ahead, who wants to be stuck inside? These shrubs and trees can help you create an intimate backyard paradise, perfect for when you want to unplug yourself from the world and relax in private.
BEST TREES FOR PRIVACY
Planting any large shrub or tree will ultimately give you some shielding, but there are some that naturally grow a little more close and compact than others. Hedge shrubs are a natural way to add privacy to your garden without compromising the aesthetic appeal of your property. Here are some of our top picks for effective hedge plants:
Boxwood: The classic hedge plant, boxwoods are densely-growing evergreens with bright foliage that turns a beautiful shade of dark green for winter. They exhibit a variety of natural shapes and sizes, but you can prune them to whatever shape you like! Growing up to 9 feet tall, there’s no way anyone can peek through a boxwood hedge. They’re easy to maintain, only requiring some partial or full sun and moist soils to thrive for decades.
Arborvitae: These trees offer a more individualized look, with their towering, narrow, cone-shaped habit. Though they won’t grow into a continuous hedge, their branches are dense enough to provide an effective screen if they’re planted closely. Each tree will stand elegantly distinguished, with some growing up to 30 feet tall! While some might bronze for the winter, losing their aesthetic appeal, the Emerald Green Arborvitae is a great choice for year-round appeal. One of the hardiest hedge trees you’ll find, give them sun and moist soils for a long-living hedge you’ll love.
Upright Juniper: Similar to arborvitae, upright junipers grow in a symmetrical, columnar habit with dense branching, perfect for privacy! The difference lies in their silver-blue hue and feathery foliage. These evergreens add distinct, year-round color and texture to your landscape, a compliment to any garden. Plant them in full sun with good drainage, and water them generously during the first year. Although they’re considered slow growers, upright junipers can outlive almost any other hedge, flourishing for up to 70 years!
Rose Bush: Who said hedges had to be all foliage? Flowering hedges are perfect for bordering your property in a bright and fun way. Rose bushes offer an effective privacy plant along with the pleasure of pretty blooms. Not all rose bushes make great hedges though. Look for low-maintenance varieties that branch densely, like Knockout roses, Simplicity hedge roses, and Rugosa roses. With such an array of colors to choose from, there’s sure to be a variety that’ll catch your eye.
PLANNING YOUR PRIVACY HEDGES
While there are many different shrubs and trees that grow dense enough to provide privacy, growing them into a hedge takes a little more thought. Take a look at your yard and consider some of the following questions:
What plants do I want to use?
Consider both look and function when choosing what shrubs you want to border your property. Deciduous varieties will add a stunning flare with seasonal color changes. They provide privacy when it matters most - during the warm summer months when we spend more time in our backyard. But deciduous shrubs lose their leaves, and therefore their screening purpose, in the winter. Luscious evergreens may change less, but they’re just as beautiful and provide privacy all year long.
What space am I working with?
Space is probably the most important aspect to consider! You’ll need to decide on what parts of your property you want to screen, and figure out the length of the hedged area. After choosing a plant, you’ll need to know how wide the shrub will grow, and if you’ll need to double them up for effective privacy. Then, you can determine how many plants you need and how far apart to space them.
How dense do I want my border?
For a continuous hedge where it’s difficult to tell where one shrub ends and another begins, you may need to plant them as close as a 1-2 feet apart. Keep in mind that trees planted in close proximity likely won’t reach their full growth potential. You might also decide to space them 3-4 feet apart if you want to allow each bush to be individual and avoid stunted growth. Of course, these numbers are general and might change depending on the mature size of the trees you decide to grow!
GROWING YOUR HEDGES
Before planting, make sure to mark your hedge line so that it turns out nice and even. Stake where you want your hedge to begin and end, and tie a string between the two. If you want to be really precise, you can even measure out your desired distance between each plant, and mark the string to ensure they’re spaced evenly. This method takes all the guesswork out of planting and leaves you with a satisfyingly straight hedge!
When you’re finally ready to actually plant your shrubs or trees, make sure you dig deep enough holes so they can easily establish themselves. The hole should be as deep as the root ball of your plant. Gently loosen any rootbound roots before laying the tree in the hole and covering it in with soil. Water after planting to help the soil and roots settle nicely.
Mulching your new trees is a good idea, it helps to retain moisture and keep pesky weeds away. Make sure the mulch doesn’t actually touch your plants though, it can rot the stems and roots.
Once your shrubs are established, you’ll have to preserve their hedge shape through training and pruning. Trim any stray branches and leaves from the tops and sides a few times each year to keep them looking sharp.
Although they’re often neglected, screening and privacy are important aspects to consider in your landscape design. Not that we want to isolate ourselves from our neighbours, but we should be able to enjoy our own garden without the worry of wandering eyes or unwanted interactions. Hedge shrubs and trees can help you build a more intimate and comfortable space for you and your family.