10 Hedges and Bushes for Privacy
We explore hedges with thick dense foliage, ideal for privacy and security
Improve your garden privacy with fast-growing, dense hedges that provide year-round screening
Another practical guide created by the team here at DIY Gardening.
Update: We also featured the fastest-growing garden shrubs here.
The plants listed below are perfect for anyone looking to improve their privacy in the garden.
From fast-growing plants that fill space quickly to tall, dense boundary hedging that’ll keep prying eyes out, explore our list and take your first steps to garden privacy today.
Pro Tip 1: Use RootGrow
Once you’ve chosen a plant from our list of hedges and boundary shrubs, we recommend dipping the root ball in mycorrhizal fungi such as RootGrow.
If you’ve never used a root development product like this before, check out the reviews on Amazon.
Endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society and used by countless professionals, RootGrow does what it says on the tin – it helps plants grow a strong root development soon after you plant them. Strong roots help it to grow faster, look healthier and have better resistance to diseases.
Pro Tip 2: Buy Instant Hedging
If you’re keen to secure the privacy of your garden as soon as possible, look out for “instant hedging”.
Plenty of garden centres and online specialists now sell semi-mature shrubs that are ready for you to plant, often you’ll find these already pruned to a specific height, typically around 1.5 – 2 metres.
There’s even companies that only sell mature shrubs and bushes, for larger projects, try Instant Hedges.
Here are the key points:
- Roots already developed so they’re ready to plant.
- Higher survival rate.
- Near-instant privacy, no need to wait 2-5 years.
- Costs more.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to gain a good level of privacy within a year or two of planting “instant hedging”.
As an example, here’ a photo of a 5-year-old privet hedge, ready for planting:
1) Laural Hedging
Fast-growing and offering a dense mass of leaves and large stems, Laural hedges can be seen throughout the UK and are one of the most popular choices for those wanting privacy in their garden.
Laurel hedging produces large glossy green leaves at all elevations, including at ground level.
Left unpruned, this shrub will grow up to 8 metres tall and wide, but with regular yearly pruning, it can be kept at any height and as narrow as half a metre.
Expect yearly fruit berries, dark red or black in colour. Laural also holds onto its leaves throughout the year, making this the perfect plant for year-round privacy hedging in the UK. Robust and resilient, Laural performs well in almost all growing conditions and soils.
If you’re looking for a green boundary hedge for privacy and would like a bush with broad leaves, density at all elevations and a plant that is disease resistant and grows well in most conditions, consider Laural.
2) Purple Beech Hedge
Who said hedges must be green?
Purple Beech, also known as Copper Beech, is a popular hedging plant that produces copper and dark red foliage from spring through to autumn. During the colder winter months, the leaves dry out but remain on the bush which helps with garden privacy.
Perfect as a colourful backdrop for sunny spots in the garden this hedge will also grow well in part-shade. Avoid soggy soil; Purple Beech prefers well-drained, somewhat chalky ground conditions.
We love this hedge, not just because its dense concentration of leaves is perfect for privacy and screening but also for its ability to add much-needed colour to gardens throughout the year.
Expect growth of up to 60cm per year, prune yearly to create a well-formed box shape. If you want to maintain density, which is crucial for privacy, plant in a sunny spot and grow up to 3m.
3) Bamboo Hedging For Garden Privacy
Bamboo has been used as a boundary hedging and screening for hundreds of years.
It can grow at an incredible rate and with a little effort, you can easily prune it into a great privacy screen.
If you’re worried about bamboo growth getting out of control, you need not be.
You can split bamboo into two varieties; clumping and running.
Running bamboo can be a real nuisance and very difficult to remove. The roots, known as rhizomes, can grow laterally for many metres and colonise surrounding areas. You can expect running bamboo to grow vertically by up to 1.5 metres each year.
Clumping bamboo is quite different; the rhizomes, or roots, grow in a “u” shape, so the next stem grows vertically and not horizontally. Clumping bamboo has a lateral spread of around 10cm per year but increases vertically by up to a metre.
Both types of bamboo are popular with gardeners looking for a fast-growing plant that they can prune into a screen or hedge.
You can also grow bamboo in containers or as a feature in any garden as it performs well in most soil types and growing conditions.
See photos of clumping bamboo taken at one-year intervals here, not only is this one of the fastest-growing plants, but it also has enough density to provide you with privacy in your garden,
Pro tip: Choose clumping bamboo as running bamboo is very difficult to control and will invade the surrounding area.
While most Privet hedges are technically deciduous and are supposed to lose their leaves in the winter, a mature bush will still have enough density to provide some winter privacy.
Many Privets can be best described as “semi-deciduous” as they only lose their leaves in the coldest of winters. For those of you living in the south of the UK, this plant could reward you with year-round foliage.
Summer privacy is guaranteed as all Privets produce a rich density of small oval-shaped leaves, one of the reasons why they were so popular in the UK from the Victorian era onwards.
Privet requires careful pruning, but if done thoughtfully, you can achieve a neat uniform “box” hedge – a trademark of the Privets.
Growing this bush is straight forward, even for the beginner gardener. Expect Privet to thrive in all conditions except extremely boggy soil.
5) Holly Privacy Hedge
Are you looking for a hedge that offers you superb privacy but requires little maintenance?
Many hedges are fast-growing, which is a double-edged sword; you can fill space quickly, but you’ll need to spend plenty of time pruning if you want to control further growth.
Holly, especially instant hedging Holly, offers you the best of both worlds.
You can purchase 1.5-metre tall semi-mature specimens for around £30, and they’ll grow at a steady 20cm per year.
The leaves are also sharp, meaning they can be planted as a security barrier too.
As Holly is an evergreen producing green leaves, you’ll keep out prying eyes all year round.
As a bonus, expect plenty of red berries from late autumn into winter, this makes Holly one of favourites hedges; you get privacy, security and winter colour.
Plant at 2-3 per metre to achieve good density.
6) Fast Growing Conifer Hedges
Our list wouldn’t be credible without the mighty conifer making it onto our page.
Our favourite? The Leylandii, of course.
There are, however, many other varieties of conifer that would be suitable for privacy hedging.
Fast-growing, providing year-round screening and offering both wind protection, noise reduction and security, the conifer is the ultimate privacy hedge.
Research by The University of Sussex and The University of Southampton revealed that the Leylandii Confier, grown as a hedge, filters out 40% more particulate pollution matter than traditional hedgings such as Hawthorn and Holly.
The research suggests that conifers make excellent border hedges, especially if planted close to a road.
With a mass of shoots, established Leylandii hedges are incredibly dense but require only yearly pruning, the best time being spring or early summer. Of course, if you were to neglect the Leylandii, expect it grow vertically by up to a metre a year. In other words, it could be higher than your house in less than ten years.
If you would like the hedge to be between 1.5m and 4m, we suggest planting at 80cm spacings. If you want to grow the hedge taller, plant them 90cm – 100cm apart.
7) Ivy Screening (for gardens with limited space)
Hedera Hibernica (Irish Ivy) is a fast-growing climbing ivy that you’ll find in many cottage gardens, forecourts, and along walls, fences and other vertical structures.
Ivy can make for an excellent screen, especially if you have limited space in the garden.
Ivy screens, that’s ivy grown on a metal frame, can be as narrow as 20cm, meaning you get privacy, security and a green hedge, all without losing too much valuable garden space.
This shrub is easy to train along any surface and produces dense, large glossy green leaves up to 12cm in width. During the winter you’ll be rewarded with plenty of non-edible dark fruits that’ll add colour to your garden when it needs it the most.
Don’t want to spend time training ivy along a frame? You can buy “instant hedging” ivy screens – that’s metal frames around 1.2m wide fully covered with ivy.
If you’re looking for a fast-growing plant that produces plenty of leaves all-year-round but doesn’t take up too much space, consider Irish Ivy
If left unpruned, expect Irish Ivy to grow up to 12 metres high and horizontally up to 8 metres.
With careful pruning and training, Irish Ivy can be used to create a perfect garden screen.
8) Red Robin Hedge
While Red Robin produces large leaves up to 10cm, the bush itself does lack density and can often be seen swaying in the wind.
This bush isn’t a good security hedge, but if planted two deep and provided with enough sunlight, you can use this colourful bush to screen off unsightly areas of the garden.
What Red Robin really has going for it is its red foliage in spring and early summer which gives way to deep olive-coloured green leaves in the autumn and into winter.
Why we love Red Robin: Easy to maintain, prune once a year. Beautiful bright red foliage in spring, plenty of flowers and berries possible if planted in a sunny spot.
The negatives: Leaf density is sparse, it’s not the best hedge for blocking out all prying eyes, you will need to plant two-deep if you want to use it as a privacy hedge. Red Robin is also flimsy and likely to sway in the wind.
To achieve density, we suggest planting two staggered rows with each plant 50cm apart. If you’re not too concerned with destiny, plant at the recommended 75cm spacings.
Expect Red Robin to grow vertically by around 30cm per year. This hedge grows up to 4m in height but to maintain density, is best kept at below 3 metres.
9) Hornbeam Hedge
Often mistaken for Beech, Hornbeam produces dense foliage and thick green leaves with a serrated edge. During the winter months, this semi-evergreen loses more leaves than Beech but still manages to hold onto enough to act as a privacy hedge.
Hornbeam is the perfect privacy hedge for less-than-ideal soil conditions and locations, in fact, we would go as far as to say that this is the best hedge for poor quality ground conditions.
Hornbeam produces seeds and small fruits making this hedge a haven for wildlife, also expect plenty of caterpillars and nesting birds.
Described by the Woodland Trust as gnarly, Hornbeam isn’t for those of you looking for a neat, quaint hedge. This bush is uneven, dense and strong, if left uncoppiced and unpruned, it will grow upwards of 30 metres and can live over 300 years.
Expect growth of around 20-30cm per year, this plant requires no special treatment or feed. Hornbeam is tough and thrives in almost all conditions.
10) Darwin’s Barberry
Informal and rugged, Darwin’s Barberry is perfect for filling a garden void or growing as a boundary hedge.
Its holly-like, prickly leaves are deep olive-coloured and provide plenty of year-round density making this an ideal evergreen privacy and security hedge.
Typically flowering in spring and producing fruit berries in autumn, plant Darwin’s Barberry in a sunny spot and you might be blessed with a second showering of flowers in late autumn too.
Very little pruning is required, and this hedge typically grows to around 2 metres in height at a rate of roughly 20-30cm a year.
Darwin’s Barberry is often grown as an alternative to Holly, expect better density and more vigorous growth.
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