A Guide to Privacy Hedge Plants

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A Privacy Hedge can be a great alternative to a traditional fence. There are a number of different trees and shrubs that can be planted to create privacy in your yard and turn your property into a secluded space. While it can be intimidating to plant a large number of trees or shrubs, the selections below are chosen not only for the privacy they create, but also for their hardiness.

Thuja 'Green Giant'

cluster of Thuja 'Green Giant' Evergreen trees with forest green foliage
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A best-seller and award winner, this Arborvitae is frequently chosen for privacy for two big reasons, its growth rate, and its tremendous size. Thuja Green Giant can eventually reach 50-60ft tall, and 10ft wide. It does so at a rate of 3-4ft per year, leading to a full privacy hedge in just a few years.

Green Giant is also incredibly hardy, meaning that once planted, Green Giant can handle periods of drought, heat, humidity, and more. It is hardy in USDA zones 5-8, so make sure to check your zone before deciding which privacy hedge is right for your property.

Full Speed A Hedge - Thuja 'American Piller'

An incredibly fast grower, American Pillar grows incredibly fast and maintains a narrow habit, helping you create privacy without taking up a significant portion of your (or your neighbors) lawn. Reaching a height of 20ft while maintaining a narrower habit, 8 plants provides 20ft of privacy in just a few years.

Hardy from zones 3-8, Thuja occidentalis ‘American Pillar’, has two main advantages over traditional privacy hedge plants, it’s hardy down to zone 3, and it maintains its narrow habit, even at a height of 20 feet. These features, along with its rapid growth rate, give it the very apt name of Full Speed a Hedge.

'Emerald Green' Arborvitae - Thuja Emerald

A rapid grower in its own right Thuja Emerald is capable of growing 18in a year in the right conditions. It also avoids the staggering height of other arborvitae, capping out around 8ft tall. A great choice for those in need of a more compact privacy hedge, Thuja Emerald creates privacy without dominating the landscape.

Emerald Green Arborvitae is hardy from zone 4-8, tolerates both intense heat and humidity, and is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. It also spots incredibly fragrant foliage, making its branches an excellent addition to holiday arrangements.

Thuja Wintergreen

Thuja Wintergreen is an extremely shade tolerant arborvitae that can thrive in conditions where others can’t. While it does grow over 2ft per year in the right conditions, it does require more water and fertilizer through the growing season that some of its competitors. At its absolute tallest it can reach 25ft tall.

More of a cold climate arborvitae, Thuja Wintergreen is hardy from zones 3-7 and can handle a wide array of growing conditions. Much like Thuja Emerald, Thuja Wintergreen is also incredibly fragrant, and great for cutting branches throughout the winter.  

Thuja North Pole®

Selected for its resistance to the winter burn that harms so many other Evergreens, Thuja North Pole is narrower than Emerald Arborvitae, yet still tall enough (15ft at full size) for privacy, with the added benefit of not sprawling across your property.

Selected by Proven Winners ColorChoice, this best-selling selection is native to the United States, and is tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions. Hardy from zones 3-7, North Pole is a great choice for a privacy hedge that wants to be mindful of space.

Hibiscus Purple Pillar®

While Purple Pillar is not an arborvitae like many of the other plants on this list, it is still an outstanding privacy provider. Growing up to 15ft tall and 2-3ft wide, it maintains the size of a narrow arborvitae while adding some delightful mid-summer color to the landscape.

Purple pillar can function as a hedge for privacy, and also stands out as an ideal shrub for concealing other unsightly parts of the landscape, such as utility boxes. While not as dense as many of the other plants on this list, Purple Pillar can still provide privacy in the landscape, especially in warmer climates, as Purple Pillar is hardy from zones 5-9.

Miscanthus 'Variegatus'

If you’re looking for more of a border than a towering privacy screen, this striking ornamental grass creates a dense 5’ x 4’ hedge that provides a sense of border and privacy to your property without being overwhelming. Well suited to sunny areas, Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’ grows well from zones 5-9.

While ‘Variegatus’ does need some care throughout the year, it is by no means a difficult plant, and will succeed with a small amount of fertilization in the spring, and some light pruning in the late fall or early spring while the plant is still dormant. Outside of these requirements, your Miscanthus will be tolerant of drought and heat once it’s established on your property.

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

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