Fast growing evergreen shrubs can provide a dense privacy screen all year long. Privacy hedges also serve as windbreaks, reduce street noise and block unwanted views. While evergreen shrubs provide privacy throughout the year, some fast growing deciduous shrubs make good privacy screens for part of the year. Deciduous shrubs often bear attractive flowers and may become a focal point in the landscape.
Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) is an ideal shrub for a privacy hedge. It is a fast grower, reaching 8 to 10 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11. Japanese privet has lustrous, green leaves and small fragrant white flowers in spring. Variegated wax leaf privet (Ligustrun japonicum “Variegatum”) offers large green leaves edged in creamy-yellow and lilac flowers. Some privet varieties, such as Ligustrum lucidum or Ligustrum sinense, tend to become invasive because of underground runners and high seed production. Plant privet shrubs in sun or part shade about 2 to 4 feet apart. Shear for a more formal shape.
Western Red Cedar
Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub or tree that can reach 80 feet. More compact varieties such as “Zebrina” may grow to 20 feet. Other varieties come with striking golden foliage. Western red cedar has soft scale-like leaves. It grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 10 and prefers a sunny location. Planting these shrubs close together to form a hedge may reduce overall height because of root competition. Western red cedar requires little care, but avoid planting it where it is exposed to road salt or salt spray.
Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) grows up to 3 feet per year into a tall evergreen hedge in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Starting from a seedling, Leyland cypress reaches 20 to 30 feet in 10 years. It has a columnar to pyramidal shape and feathery, soft green foliage. Some Leyland cypress varieties have golden foliage. Leyland cypress is not fussy about soil type and is drought and salt tolerant.
Pink honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is a deciduous shrub suited to USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. It blooms in spring with fragrant pink flowers and displays red berries in fall and winter. Pink honeysuckle grows quickly into a dense hedge, 8 to 10 feet tall. Plant the shrubs 3 feet apart, preferably in full sun. Prune pink honeysuckle twice a year to prevent it from becoming invasive.
Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), sometimes called “althea,” is a deciduous, flowering shrub that is hardy and easy to grow. It blooms with white, pink, blue or purple 2- to 4-inch flowers in mid-summer. Combining shrubs with different flower colors makes an attractive hedge. Rose of Sharon grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 in a vase shape, 6 to 12 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide. Plant shrubs 5 feet apart for a dense summer privacy hedge. Rose of Sharon is salt and drought tolerant. It grows best in locations with good drainage and full sun, but tolerates part shade.