So, you’ve decided that you want to incorporate some privacy plants in your house or apartment’s landscape—what to do first? Consider why you want privacy plants in the first place, as this will help you choose a habit and size that can meet your needs.
With this list of privacy plants, we’ll help to provide some common options that might be suitable for your outdoor space. As always, we’re here to help with any step along the way—just get in touch with any questions you might have.
Evergreen Privacy Plants
Evergreen plants are commonly a top choice for privacy plants. Why? Some grow really fast, but nearly all provide a dense way to block out wind, noise, and people. While these choices are all great, it may be advantageous to plant at least two varieties to build resilience against pests and disease.
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Juniper is an excellent privacy screen—and with varieties that range from lower shrubs to taller trees, there’s a perfect option for any patio, deck, or backyard.
Juniper does require full sun and may take several years to grow enough to become an effective privacy screen. However, in the meantime, be prepared to enjoy its gorgeous silver-blue berries that will also attract wildlife like birds .
Holly (Ilex spp.)
While its glossy, dark green leaves and bright red berries are enough of a reason to incorporate holly into your landscaping plans, it’s also a common choice for a privacy plant.
The medium grower can easily reach heights of around six feet tall, with a width nearly as large. With more than 780 evergreen species around the world , you’re sure to find something perfect for your needs. Just be sure that it has well-drained and slightly acidic soil.
Yew (Taxus baccata)
As a dense hedge that does well with regular pruning, yew is perfect for keeping pesky neighbors at bay—particularly because it can reach heights of up to six feet tall and 16 feet wide ! The attractive dark green needles and red berries look great in any landscape, too.
While its growth rate isn’t as fast as some of these other privacy plants, it does provide a uniform hedge and can tolerate a range of soil and sun conditions.
Plants for Privacy from Neighbors
Leyland Cypress (x Cupressocyparis Leylandii)
Don’t let its slender shape fool you, Leyland Cypress can provide an excellent privacy screen from neighbors—and it can do so quickly.
Not only that, but it will show off its dark green color year-round, can tolerate a range of climate and soil conditions, and serves as a wonderful windbreak, too . It will look beautiful regardless of where it’s placed, but can do especially well when planted along boundary lines.
American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Native to Eastern North America, this species of elderberry is known for its almost-black berries, which are valued for their high antioxidant levels.
However, once it reaches maturity, tightly-packed elderberries provide a dense hedgerow, which is perfect for wind or privacy screening. The thicket-forming shrub can reach heights of up to 12 feet tall . The dark green foliage and fragrant flower heads look great and will attract birds.
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Fragrant blooms, gorgeous flowers, and privacy? What more could you want?!
Lilac is a deciduous shrub that can reach heights of up to 16 feet tall . In addition to being used to attract butterflies and hummingbirds—as well as provide fragrance and good cut flowers—lilacs can also be used as a privacy hedge.
Tall Plants for Privacy in Pots
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Privet is a fast-growing shrub that includes roughly 50 species . They grow upright, they grow quickly, and like boxwood, they tolerate pruning.
Variegated privet will require full sun, and all varieties will need well-draining soil in the pots. They should never be left to fully drive out. It’s also advantageous to select larger containers as privet should never outgrow its pot.
Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)
This broadleaf evergreen is technically not a bamboo, but instead a member of the barberry family. It’s a tough-as-nails shrub that is adored by gardeners for it’s dark, textured leaves (that look like the leaves of bamboo) and its striking fruit display.
Its toughness allows it to adapt to nearly any condition. As an outdoor shrub border, as in indoor houseplant, or in a container outdoors. Being in a container might reduce its maximum height (up to eight feet tall), but it will thrive nonetheless .
Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)
Originating from South America, this grass is an excellent choice for a privacy plant as it can reach up to 10 feet tall and has large white flower and seed heads that emerge in late summer . While it can be grown in zone 6, it will require full sun and some winter protection.
When growing pampas grass in containers, be sure to use a large sized pot to match the large size of the grass. It needs adequate space and will be limited by a smaller container. You should also take care to place the containers away from heavily trafficked areas, as the leaves have sharp edges that may cut someone as they’re walking by.
Privacy Plants for Patio
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
Butterfly bush will attract the gaze of you, your guests, and beneficial pollinators, but it will minimize the gaze from neighbors or passerbys.
This low-maintenance plant is tough and drought-resistant, and doesn’t require a lot in the way of pruning or fertilizer. While it is relatively disease resistant, it’s also an invasive plant in many areas of the US—particularly in California and the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, this classification has yet to reach Massachusetts .
Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)
While there are evergreen varieties, the deciduous varieties are well-loved for their gorgeous, large flowers—which can provide a splash of color for any patio. Because they reach relatively large sizes, they’re an excellent summer privacy screen, too.
Used as a hedge, hydrangeas won’t get out of control, are easy to cultivate, and require little maintenance . However, you’ll likely go with a deciduous variety, you may want to interplant an evergreen species, like boxwood, for year-round privacy.
Bamboo (Bamboo fargesia sp.)
Bamboo is an excellent evergreen hedge or privacy screen because it has a very fence-like habit, doesn’t require a lot of space, grows extremely quickly, and is beautiful. It’s also one of the best plants (or grasses) out there to capture carbon—so it’s a great choice from a sustainability standpoint, too!
Although bamboo tends to grow in warm regions in Asia, there are some varieties that are hardy to even USDA zone 5. That said, it’s still important to choose hardy varieties, or consider growing them in a container so that they can be moved indoors. Consider the Fargesia group , which aren’t as invasive as other bamboos and can tolerate temperatures well below freezing.
Deck Privacy Plants
Siebold Viburnum (Viburnum sieboldii)
While nearly all Viburnum species can serve as a good privacy plant, large species like V. sieboldii are an excellent choice for deck privacy plants, since they can reach heights of up to 20 feet tall !
The upright deciduous shrub is low maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soils. Just be sure to provide consistent and even moisture.
Columnar Norway Spruce (Picea abies Cupressina)
Thanks to its columnar appearance, this is a valued choice for a showy and elegant privacy screen—especially where a strong, vertical growing pattern is necessary.
The dark green needles will extend from ground branches, forming a dense windbreak or privacy wall. While this spruce does need full sun, it can tolerate heat and humidity and will reach up to 30 feet tall over its lifetime .
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow privacy shrub and a way to cover up your deck’s ugly wall, English ivy could be the plant for you. It’s well suited to USDA zones 5-11, it’s hardy, and it provides privacy all year long.
It will shoot out aerial rootlets that will stick to any surface—but, if you don’t train it, it can be highly invasive and can take over your whole yard, climbing up trees and expanding as a ground cover .
Privacy Plants Around Pool
Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Emerald Green’)
Arborvitae makes the list again. This variety is popular and reliable. While it is slow growing, little maintenance will be required to get this arborvitae to up to 12 feet tall .
Emerald Green Arborvitae has a slim, pyramidal shape and its lush green foliage won’t fade in the winter and can tolerate heat, drought, and cold. However, unlike the other arborvitae in this list (Green Giant), this one is not deer resistant.
Golden Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)
Golden euonymus shrubs bring color to your pool area—but they keep out the gaze of neighbors. It’s got dark green, leathery foliage with variegated buttercup yellow splashes. While it does flower in spring, the flowers aren’t showy and you might not even notice them.
The shrub is easy to grow and while it does require full sun, its very thick foliage is perfect as a privacy and sound hedge. Reaching heights of up to 10 feet tall, the shrub won’t require a lot of maintenance, but will need regular water until the root system is fully established .
Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens ‘Magnifica’)
This vine is an excellent fast-grower that will provide a splash of color and some privacy as it grows on the fence that surrounds your pool area. As the name suggests, it’s got trumpet-shaped flowers that will bloom an orange-scarlet color throughout the warm summer and autumn months.
It can be grown in zones 4-9, and in colder climates may be semi-evergreen during winter months .
Privacy Plants that Grow in Shade
Catawba Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)
Rhodies are a valued choice for gardens for a variety of reasons. This particular variety has rhododendron’s usual attractive, dark green, glossy evergreen leaves, but also has lavender, pink, or white flowers.
For many years the rhododendron will stay around six feet tall and wide, but it will eventually grow bigger. While you will need to provide fertile, acidic, and well-drained soil, the broadleaf evergreen shrubs can do well in dappled, partial shade .
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
As a gardener’s favorite, boxwood is great for a topiary, as it responds to shaping and pruning well. It’s an excellent deer-resistant shrub, too!
When clipped, boxwood’s tiny leaves appear tidy and make for a great hedge. Different varieties can provide different sizes, and tall species can reach up to six feet tall! While it will require well-drained soil, some varieties of boxwood enjoy partial or dappled shade .
Variegated Japanese Laurel (Aucuba japonica)
This is a standout evergreen that does so much more than acts as a privacy plant. Also known as the gold dust tree, this Japanese laurel has bright and leathery green leaves that are mottled with yellow variegation.
While it does better with moist soils, the evergreen can reach heights of around six to nine feet, even with its preferred shady conditions. Just be sure to keep pets away, as parts of the plant are poisonous .
Privacy Plants for Balcony
Climbing Rose (Rosa setigera)
Climbing roses are a true show-stopper and can transform your balcony into something out of a storybook. Climbing roses come in many different varieties , including those that are hardy in cool climates. Thriving in zone 5 and above, recommended climbing rose varieties include ‘Altissimo,’ ‘American Beauty,’ ‘Iceberg,’ and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison.’
Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea)
This climbing vine is fast-growing and can reach up to 10 feet tall in just one season! The heart-shaped foliage is joined by purple-blue trumpet-like flowers that open up in the morning, hence the name. You’ll enjoy these blooms every day from summer to fall .
Be sure that your morning glory has access to full sun and a balcony wall or fence to support it. If you’re lucky, you might welcome butterflies or even hummingbirds!
Hay scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)
This deciduous fern—like its name suggests—has the scent of freshly mowed hay. It can reach up to two feet high and four feet wide and is a great addition to your balcony and in a hanging basket will provide privacy.
Unlike many other ferns that are well adapted to warm, tropical climates, this one is indigenous to USDA zones 3-8. While they will grow in full sun, your balcony’s partially shaded conditions are even better .
Fast Growing Privacy Plants
Arborvitae Green Giant (Thuja Green Giant)
For a large, fast-growing, and vigorous evergreen, there are few better choices than Green Giant Arborvitae, which can grow up to three feet every year! The conical or pyramidal form is natural, providing gorgeous, rich green foliage that may become darker or take on a bronze appearance during cool months .
The best thing about this arborvitae—aside from its quick growing nature—is that it becomes wind resistant once established, and can tolerate heavy rains, snow, and ice.
Clematis (Clematis spp.)
Clematis is a showy vine that flowers from late spring to fall in several different shapes and colors.
The perennial vine can climb roughly 3-20 feet, depending on the type. While it prefers full sun, there are certain varieties that can grow in part shade. In our South Shore growing zone, varieties like ‘Bee’s Jubilee,’ ‘Vanso,’ and ‘Betty Corning’ are good choices .
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
These deciduous, perennial vines are another great privacy climber on a wall, trellis, or fence. They’re hardy through zones 3-8 and will provide lush foliage that not only creates a summertime privacy fence, but is also joined by showy paper-like flowers that attract butterflies .
Privacy Fence Plants
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
In addition to serving as a perfect privacy fence, Pyracantha will excite and delight year-round thanks to its white blooms in spring and bright-orange berries that appear in winter. Birds will enjoy the show, too.
Pyracantha does well in zones 5-8 and can quickly reach a size of up to 10 feet tall and eight feet wide .
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Between spring blossoms, variegated leaves, summertime berries, and red branches that brighten up a winter landscape, this shrub provides year-round interest and is great to use as a privacy fence.
Growing around two feet every year, these can be placed where they’re easily viewed—typically at your yard’s perimeter. Their hardiness zones include zones 3-8. Just be sure they have access to a decent amount of sun and fertile, moist soil .
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Also known as ironwood or musclewood, this fine-textured tree is a relative of the birch tree and has a trunk that looks like muscles. It’ll grow around a foot a year  and its deep green foliage will provide a perfect privacy fence during summer. It can be left to grow as a single-stemmed tree, or trained to be a multi-stemmed shrub that provides denser privacy cover.
American hornbeam is hardy to zone 3 and can tolerate flooding, heat, and insects.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog on the best plants for privacy! If you want some more backyard landscaping ideas, check out the rest of our learning center!