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What are Privacy Shrubs?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers

Planting privacy shrubs can be a good way to keep neighbors and passers-by from seeing into the yard. It may also serve to prevent homeowners from having to glimpse unattractive views outside the yard. A privacy shrub is usually a large bush or tree that is either quite tall, thick, or both. Plants are often considered a more natural barrier than fences, allowing residents to have nature-friendly property. They also provide a certain level of noise insulation as well.

Many people who have pools in their backyard, or otherwise spend a lot of time in that area, choose to grow privacy shrubs. This is often good for blocking the view from neighbors next to or behind the house. Additionally, homes in locations that are prone to high winds, especially when they are surrounded by dirt, could use privacy shrubs to block excess dirt and dust from the yard.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Before choosing a privacy shrub, homeowners should consider how big a plant they need. If neighbors all have single-story homes, the privacy shrubs likely do not need to be much higher than a typical fence. This is about six feet (1.8 m) tall. On the other hand, properties with two-story houses around them will likely need much taller privacy shrubs. Plant thickness should also be taken into consideration, as the thicker the shrubs, the more privacy there usually is.

One type of dense privacy shrub that can survive in nearly any environment is the Waxleaf Ligustrum, which grows up to eight feet (2.4 m) in height. Thin, tall plants like the Sky Pencil Japanese Holly are often good for those with neighbors in two-story homes, as they can grow up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Some homeowners prefer similarly tall but thicker plants, such as American Boxwoods, as they do well at both three feet (1 m) and 10 feet (three m). In fact, many of the best privacy shrubs look attractive at nearly any size, and their final height is typically dependent on how often they are trimmed.

Like any other plant, privacy shrubs need to be maintained well. Hedges should not be allowed to grow out of control, and the branches of trees should be trimmed regularly. Homeowners who do not have the time to keep up maintenance on shrubs for privacy, or at least pay someone else to do the job, should consider using a regular fence instead. In fact, even fast growing privacy shrubs are not usually as immediate a barrier as a wooden, brick, or metal fence can be. Homeowners who want fast results and little upkeep would likely be happier with a traditional fence or wall rather than a live plant.

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Discussion Comments


@golf07 - Rose of Sharon are beautiful and are one of my favorite types of hedges. They do grow pretty quickly, and depending on the kind you plant, can grow 6 to 10 feet high. You should have a nice hedge within a few years of planting.

They are certainly much faster growing than an evergreen and have amazing color. You can also choose between single or double blooms. I love them and look forward to their blooms every summer!


After much discussion my husband and I have decided to go with live plants instead of a fence for some privacy. Even though it takes some time, I really prefer the look of shrubs or trees over a fence.

I love evergreens, but am really looking for a fast growing tree or shrub to plant for a hedge. I have been leaning towards Rose of Sharon, but wonder how long it takes for them to reach their full height?

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