Planting Hedges as Screens

Whether you can wait years for the screen to grow in place, or need a screen right away, you have many options when planting hedges for screens. 

A Rear Terrace Leads to the Swimming Pool

A Rear Terrace Leads to the Swimming Pool

Photo by: Doug Young

Doug Young

Tools and Materials

  • Books
  • Drawing materials

Step 1: Assess your needs. 

Are you looking for a living fence for year-round privacy, or just for seasonal screening? How much maintenance can you manage? Do you want a mixture of plants with multiseason interest (flowers, changing foliage, winter color, fruit), a formal clipped hedge, or potted plants for portable screening? What is your minimum height requirement? How much money can you invest in this project?

Step 2: Assess the site. 

Evaluate the area in terms of dimensions, sun and shade exposure, soil type and drainage, and proximity to underground features such as gas and water lines. Talk to your neighbors to alert them about your intentions, and make sure the project works for them, too.

Step 3: Choosing plants. 

Once you have information about the site, you can decide what kind of plants will thrive there and meet your needs. When your desire is for immediate results, only a fence or a substantial investment in mature plants and landscaping will do the trick.

Mixed plantings of evergreen and deciduous shrubs provide interest in many seasons.

Deciduous plants provide more shade in summer but allow light to reach your yard in winter.

Fruiting trees, bushes, and vines provide snacks for you and the birds and for your neighbors.

Tall potted plants make a fast portable screen around a pool, patio, or deck.

Clumping bamboo and ornamental grasses grow quickly and lend an exotic air.

Annual vines grow quickly up a trellis. Perennial vines can climb an arbor or trellis, or soften a fence.

Tips

Excellent plants for traditional hedges include evergreens such as boxwood (Buxus), oleander (Nerium), yew (Taxus), arborvitae (Thuja), and hemlock (Tsuga). Deciduous hedge plants include Japanese barberry (Berberis), and privet (Ligustrum). Be sure to check the USDA Climate Hardiness Zone of each plant and compare it to the zone where you live.

Next Up

How to Plant a Hedge

Most hedges take years to establish, so plant as soon as you've decided on a type and design.

Q&A: Using Vertical Plants for Privacy

Tips on which plants are a good choice for verticals.

Pruning a Hedge

No matter what type of hedge you may have in your landscape, follow these steps to keep it healthy and shaped beautifully.

Pruning and Shaping Hedges

When close-clipped and uniform, hedges create a sense of neat formality; when mixed and billowy, they are a garden in themselves. Whichever look you prefer, hedges will often need to be trimmed, fertilized and shaped to promote healthy growth and maintain your landscape.

Create and Care for a Lavender Hedge

Lavender plants are generally easy to care for. Learn how to create a fragrant and beautiful lavender hedge, and maintain it for years to come.

Evergreens for Privacy

Build a living wall with evergreens.

Hedge Plants: Choosing the Right One for Your Yard

The most expensive plants aren't always the best. These tips will help you find the most appropriate hedge for your landscape without breaking the bank.

Designing a Landscape with Hedges

When close-clipped and uniform, hedges create a sense of neat formality; when mixed and billowy, they are a garden in themselves.

Miniature Woodlands

You can create your own little shade garden — and even control its size.

Plant a Winter Garden

Add pops of color to your winter landscape with plants and shrubs that add interest and will attract and support wildlife.