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The 7 Best Trees And Shrubs For Privacy Screening In Your Backyard

by Emily Durgan | Thu, Mar 12, 2015

Fences make good neighbors, but so do trees and shrubs — at least trees and shrubs acting as fences! There are many reasons why people like using trees and shrubs in their backyards, and one of the main reasons is privacy screening, with the plants acting as a physical and visual barrier. A lush, dense, natural green separation between yards goes a long way toward keeping the peace.

3 Advantages Of A Natural Privacy Screen

arborvitae are great trees for a natural privacy screenBut first things first, it’s helpful to know a few other advantages of using greenery as a fence.

  1. Many homeowners prefer keeping their yards as natural as possible, inviting in birds and butterflies. Depending on the trees and shrubs you choose, you can actually increase the visiting wildlife by providing habitat and pollen — especially with flowering plants.

  2. The growth is often low maintenance, some requiring an occasional trim, and others just growing at their own pace.  

  3. The greenery often blocks the wind and sound.

Trees For A Natural Privacy Screen

With so many options at the nursery, what are the best trees and shrubs for privacy screening to transform your backyard? Here are some trees to consider as privacy fencing:

Wax Myrtle

Birds love the wax myrtle’s berries, especially in winter. It attracts the red-banded hairstreak butterfly too. This is a plant that grows well as a shrub, though with proper trimming it can grow as high as 40 feet high, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.

American Arborvitae

This tree is known under several names, including Eastern white cedar as well as thuja occidentalis. While the cedar is a very tall (40-60 feet), homeowners might prefer the large selection of ornamental arborvitae, including the techny American arbovitae that’s better for hedges. The latter variety can grow about 15 feet high, and it maintains its color during winter.

Willow Hybrid Trees

If you’re looking for privacy in a hurry, your best bet is the willow hybrid tree, thought to be the fastest growing tree for privacy and shade. This plant can grow more than 10 feet in a year, topping out at 35-40 feet. They’re also hardy and they grow well in a variety of soil types. While they aren’t evergreen in winter, they’ll have enough on their branches to maintain privacy.

Shrubs For A Natural Privacy Screen

viburnum and boxwood are excellent shrubs for a natural privacy screenAnd here are four shrubs to consider for privacy screening:

Walter Viburnum

This plant grows well into a shrub or small tree, and makes great hedges. One bonus is that it blooms with small white flowers in spring, that butterflies flock to. In fall, the plant attracts birds to its fruit. Plus, cardinals and songbirds like to nest in it.


There are a few different types of boxwood you can grow as hedge in Florida. Growing 6-8 feet tall, common boxwood becomes bushy foliage, a dark green leaf that’s commonly used in topiaries. Littleleaf boxwood is an evergreen popular for lower hedges, with fragrant leaves.

Sweet Viburnum & Podocarpus

Sweet viburnum is a favorite for hedges, because it makes a dense screen or you can prune it into a tree shape. It also grows quickly. Many people like to use a “step-down” approach, with sweet viburnum in the back growing taller, and Podocarpus in the front, trimmed shorter. The Podocarpus evergreen shrub is often used for topiary hedges or box hedges. It’s easy to prune into the shape you want, which makes for a nice looking privacy screen.

GreenEarth Can Help You Choose The Right Trees And Shrubs For Privacy Screening

Depending on your landscape needs, you might want to vary the height of your hedge or privacy screen to make it more visually interesting. That means choosing trees and shrubs of different heights. This can also help diversify your yard’s pest tolerance. When you’re looking into shrubs and trees, you’ll also need to consider how much sun and shade they get, as different plants have different needs.

Choosing the right shrubs and trees for privacy screening can be overwhelming to a homeowner, and at GreenEarth Landscape Services, we’re happy to advise you on what’s best for your landscaping needs. Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.

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Images: Front yard hedge, Hedge

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