10 Tall Screening Plants For Privacy
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There are dozens of reasons why you may want to grow screening plants; perhaps you are lucky enough to own a garden hot tub, have a balcony, or you just want to shield part of your yard from prying eyes.
Whatever the reason, consider one of these ten screening plants, chosen by Hannah Miller – our lead content creator here at DIY Gardening.
Many of the plants suggested here can be grown in containers.
(Note: This selection of screening plants compliments our previously published list of privacy hedges.)
1) Clumping Bamboo:
Bamboo is a member of the grass family and is popular with gardeners and homeowners who want privacy.
In fact, bamboo canes are often removed from the plant and sold as screening, but there’s no reason why you can’t use bamboo as a living, breathing screening plant.
Key points: Bamboo is evergreen so you’ll have privacy in the winter too.
Clumping bamboo can reach up to 5 metres high and can be purchased from many garden centres as an established plant, meaning you’ll get instant privacy and screening.
Recommended variety: Choose clumping bamboo as it isn’t as invasive and is much easier to control compared to running bamboo.
Best for: Sunny spots, pots, beds, borders. While clumping bamboo grows tall, it doesn’t reach too far too quickly, making it the perfect screening plant for small gardens, around hot tubs and beside balconies.
Watch out for: Research the type of bamboo carefully as some are invasive and some grow taller and denser than others.
Where we’ve grown bamboo: We have it in our garden and have specified the clumping variety for projects over the years. We’ve never heard of issues with pests or maintenance. We’ve found it very easy to look after, and it does its job of ensuring privacy very well.
As the name suggests, privet is an extremely dense hedge that’s perfect for screening off an area of the garden.
It can also be grown in containers as a shrub and can be cut to different shapes (topiary).
Key points: Privet is semi-evergreen, meaning it usually keeps its leaves in the winter but may shed some in colder areas of the country.
Usually grown as a hedge, privet is so dense that nobody will be able to see through it, and it recovers well from pruning mishaps.
Recommended variety: Ligustrum ovalifolium reaches up to 4m and produces olive-green foliage and small white flowers in midsummer.
Best for: Boundaries, partitions, in full sun or partial shade.
3) Evergreen Clematis
Evergreen clematis is another popular and fast-growing screening plant. Although it’s not self-supporting, so will need a frame such as a trellis or a pergola.
The evergreen variety often produces flowers in the winter, so, in addition to providing you with some much-needed winter privacy, you’ll also be rewarded with a splash of colour during the colder months of the year.
Key points: Can reach up to 4m but is easily pruned. Expect green foliage and star-shaped blooms.
Recommended variety: Clematis “Freckles” (clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘freckles’)
Best for: Trellis, pots, sun or partial shade.
Our experience: We’ve grown this on trellis before, and it did require a lot of training to keep it where we wanted it.
Ivy is another climber that’s often grown as a screening plant.
Let ivy make its way along walls, fences, trellis, sheds, pergolas and arches – you can grow ivy just about anywhere.
Key points: Can grow many dozens of metres if left unchecked but does make for good screening of unsightly parts of the garden such as old walls, fences, garages and sheds.
Watch out for: It requires yearly pruning and will cover anything and everything if left to its own devices.
Best for: Anywhere. Most varieties are fully shade-tolerant, while they also thrive in full sun.
Our experience: We’ve seen cases where ivy has grown uncontrolled and smoothered other plants. We think you should only consider it if you’re prepared to maintain with yearly pruning and training.
5) Star Jasmine
Star jasmine is a fast-growing evergreen climber that’s often sold pre-grown into a frame or trellis, making it easy for the gardener to plant out in a pot or in a bed.
Reaching a height of around 12m, this popular screening plant delights with shiny green leaves from spring to autumn, which turn rustic red in the winter.
Key points: Star jasmine also pleases with white flowers in the summer and fruits in the autumn.
Watch out for: This screening plant has the potential to reach 12m high in 5-10 years, so expect growth of between 1 and 2 metres per year.
Best for: Full sun or partial shade along fences, walls or around arches etc.
Our experience: We’ve worked on a property where it was growing all over a large pergola, and it looked delightful. The owner reported that it was easy to grow and just needed training in the desired direction.
6) Climbing Hydrangea
Dense green foliage gives way to bright yellow in the autumn; this compliments the large 20cm white flowers on display in the summer.
This climber is self-clinging and can reach up to 12m high and 8m wide, making it perfect for covering and screening unsightly walls.
Key points: This versatile plant can be grown in full sun, partial shade or full shade. Climbing hydrangeas are often grown up large tree trunks or along huge arches.
Watch out for: Climbing hydrangeas can be evergreen or deciduous, meaning they may lose their leaves in the winter.
Best for: North or east-facing gardens or anywhere with full shade or dappled sun. As a self-clinging plant, this hydrangea can cover and screen walls at a rate of around 1m per year.
Our experience: We’ve worked on a property where this climber hadn’t been pruned for years, and it looked sparse and gappy with blooms only at the end of the stems, high up on the wall. It requires yearly pruning to stop this legyness and to keep it flowering heavily.
7) Golden Hop
Humulus lupulus “Aureus” (Golden Hop) is another fast climber that covers up to 8 metres in as little as 5 years.
This herbaceous plant can be grown as a screen along supports such as wires or a frame.
Key points: Yellow/green leaves compliment the green/yellow summer flowers which give way to light brown fruits in the autumn.
Watch out for: Golden hop is deciduous so will lose its leaves in the winter.
Best for: Grow along trellis or wires in a sunny spot or at least a location with partial sun.
Buxus sempervirens (Box) is the perfect low-level screening plant that’s ideal for partitioning off areas such as around flowerbeds.
As a native to the UK, box grows in a variety of soils and conditions and has been popular since Roman times.
Key points: Often grown for topiary, you can clip this plant into many different shapes or grow it as a neat, low-level screening hedge.
Best for: Low-level edge screenings, borders and as topiary in full sun to full shade.
Our experience: We don’t grow box as it requires lots of care and attention to keep it looking neat, and box blight is always a threat. In many areas of the UK, box will need regular treatment with chemicals to prevent blight.
9) Laural Hedge
Laural hedge is usually grown for its green foliage but come spring; you’ll also be rewarded with white flowers and, in the winter, red berries.
This hedge grows fast and dense, making it perfect for screening any part of the garden but, in particular, the boundaries.
Key points: Grows up top 50cm per year and can reach 10m high but is easy to keep in check with yearly pruning.
Growing tip: Once established, this hedge doesn’t require any special attention other than a prune once or perhaps twice per year.
Best for: Boundaries, screening.
Our experience: We’ve specified this hedge for clients as it’s cheap, does the job of screening off areas and is easy to maintain. We’ve never heard of any issues with pests, diseases or maintenance beyond some powdery mildew.
10) Cypress Trees
Cypress trees are narrow, pencil-shaped, coniferous trees that are native to the Mediterranean but grow well in most conditions in the UK.
Grow as a standalone specimen to screen prying eyes from a vantage point or plant as a column.
Cypress trees prefer a sunny spot with moist soil, but once established, they will cope well with drier conditions.
Key points: Choose cypress trees if you want a tree that grows tall but narrow, as even the largest mature Cypress tree will struggle to reach more than 5m in width, with most much narrower at around 1 or 2 metres. Expect Cypress trees to grow approximately 75cm per year.
Best for: Standalone specimens, columns, vertical screening.
Our experience: We’ve specified these for clients in the past and suggested they grow them in containers as they’ll be easier to maintain and control.
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Meet The Author: Hannah Miller
Hannah is a former NHS administrator, mother of two and keen qualified gardener who loves growing new plants and experimenting in the garden.
She enjoys gardening as much as she cares about the environment and likes to share her knowledge with others.
This year is all about pollinators, and Hannah has set herself the goal of only buying new plants that attract pollinators; she aims to make the garden as bee and butterfly friendly as possible.
Why Trust Us? Hannah's Experience Backed by a Qualified Horticulturist
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Hannah Miller has been a gardening enthusiast for over 12 years and has a level 3 qualification in horticulture. She's constantly growing new plants and frequently writes for us.
As accuracy is important, we asked fully qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to review and fact-check this guide.
Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.
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