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Written by davethetreecenters • November 08 Five Great and Different Fast-growing Privacy Shrubs

When it comes to privacy, it’s a shame that a small handful of plants have taken over, so most gardens use the same old plants, and we all end up looking the same. There are a lot of plants in the world, and many of them are fast-growing, yet we see Green Giants and Arborvitae being planted in their millions. Not that these aren’t great plants, and they certainly do the trick, but why not step away from the flock a little, and go for something different? With that is mind, here are five larger shrubs and smaller trees that offer you reliability, fast-growth, and, yes, privacy.

What Do You Need for Privacy?

When you start to feel you are overlooked, and your garden is anything but private, rushing to a big green wall might not be the only option. Consider your situation and think about these questions:

Do I need Year-round Privacy? – Is your privacy issue seasonal? Is it only during the summer that you feel overlooked, so that in winter you don’t need it at all? If the answer is that you only need summer screening, then consider a deciduous plant. Many grow faster than any evergreen will, and most have the benefit of flowers, and often fruit and/or fall color as well. They will be dual-purpose, screening and adding beauty, and they let more light through in winter, which can be important too.

How Big a Plant Do I Need? – We see a lot of over-sized plants in gardens, and you don’t need a 30 feet tree when a 6-foot plant would do the trick. Take a closer look and see how tall the plant really needs to be. You might want someone to hold a tall pole (tie some bamboo stakes together if needed) so you can see what the needed height actually is. You might be surprised!

How Long a Space Needs Screening? – If it’s just one window that is the problem, or a gap between buildings, you might only need one bush, or a cluster of three, rather than a wall of hedge that then occupies a lot of your garden. Stand back and survey the situation carefully. . .

Once you have considered your needs, looking for something suitable is going to be a lot easier. So take a look at these different choices, and see if they fit – if not we have lots and lots of other great plants in our catalogue!

1.    Star Power Juniper

Matching your plants to the climate is always important, and if you have cold winters and hot summers, that eliminates a lot of regular plants. Let’s throw in a coastal planting (or highway salt), so you need salt-resistance too. A great choice for those conditions, and in any difficult spot, is the Star Power Juniper (‘J.N. Select Blue’). Blue-green in summer, and purple-toned in winter, this fast-growing, rugged evergreen always looks  great, and doesn’t need trimming to grow into an upright column that gives you total coverage across a window of about 5 feet. So three in a cluster will effectively fill a 15-foot gap where the wind comes through, or passing traffic spoils your barbeque tranquility. Growing about 18 inches a year certainly counts as fast growing, so take a closer look through this link at the Star Power Juniper.

2.    Dwarf Cherry Laurel

Now cherry Laurel is a well-known and reliable screening plant, but it can grow large, and maybe you only need 5 or 6 feet of Privacy. Why give yourself the job of trimming, when you can plant the Dwarf Cherry Laurel? Evergreen, with smaller leaves than the ordinary kind, this fast-growing beauty will top-out around 6 feet tall and wide as a bright green, glossy-leaved dense shrub that needs no attention to do the job 365 days a year. If you trim it the leaves will become small, making a very dense screen. If you don’t you get the bonus of flower clusters that carry creamy-white, honey-scented blooms, adding a great splash of interest in early summer. Check out the Dwarf Cherry Laurel, which is also a great choice for shady parts of your garden.

3.    ‘Old Fashioned’ Smoke Tree

Maybe you remember the big old green-leaf smoke trees that used to be in every garden? Their clouds of tiny flowers really do create an amazing smoky-pink haze that sits like a cloud over them in summer. There are a lot of purple-leaf forms too, but for screening, if you don’t need it in winter, you can hardly do better than this fast-growing shrub. Soon shooting up to 6 feet tall, and about as wide, it forms a mound of branches with small oval green leaves, giving a solid wall of vegetation. Best of all, it grows on poor soils, including city ‘earth’ and dry, sandy spots too, and it’s a real survivor. After that amazing cloud of blooms the leaves turn great fall colors of orange, red and purple, so if all this appeals, check it out here – ‘Old Fashioned Smoke Tree.

4.    Prague Viburnum

Back to an evergreen choice, here is a terrific shrub with a great natural look that is also fast-growing, tough in tough locations, and beautiful too. The Prague Viburnum is a vigorous hybrid, and one of many valuable viburnums for your garden. It soon reaches 10 feet, with long, narrow leaves that are dark green. It grows in sun or partial shade, and its look fits perfectly where you want screening in a wilder, more natural-looking way. It has clusters of white flowers about 6 inches across, followed by berries that are first red and then black, adding fall interest. Right now the Prague Viburnum is out of stock, but use the ‘notify me’ button, because it will be back soon, it’s so popular, and could already be, depending on when you read this.

5.    Little Gem Southern Magnolia

For dense screening and beautiful foliage, you can’t beat the Southern Magnolia. Yes, it won’t grow in cold zones, but that still makes it available in most of the country. It is surprisingly fast-growing, especially with a little attention to fertilizer and watering. For screening and privacy you don’t want something too big, and so the variety called ‘Little Gem’ is perfect. It also starts flowering when young, even just 3 or 4 feet tall, and matures in the 10 to 20 feet tall range, about half of what you can expect from most other varieties. It makes a superb screen that needs no trimming and the huge, fragrant, white flowers are amazing. For a screen with class and southern charm, you can’t beat the Little Gem Southern Magnolia.