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Create a Sanctuary with These Top Privacy Plants


Shrubs and trees can be a great alternative to fencing

When people buy a home, they want it to be an expression of their personal style. So much of this is focused on the interior of the home, but sometimes, the front and backyard become an oversight. Both new and old construction often features a fence or some type of physical barrier that can give a sterile feeling that lacks inspiration. The opportunity in these instances is to use a combination of shrubs and trees that create not only privacy, but soft spaces that better create a feeling of calm and belonging.

Related: Six Outdoor Design Trends

The issue of smaller spaces is not limited to urban areas. Home construction is trending larger, meaning bigger homes on smaller lots. This requires a different strategy when it comes to creating these pockets of sanctuary. Choosing landscape plants that are suited for smaller spaces and ones that can be used as privacy walls can add that green touch where the sightline to the neighbor’s backyard is all too common. Here are some favorite plants that can not only add a little privacy, but also behave themselves with their narrow habit, allowing for some much-needed green space where people can enjoy their outdoor oasis.

Virtual Violet® Lilac

Virtual Violet® Lilac: An improvement over the classic common purple lilac, Virtual Violet® has a dense, upright habit, making it a great choice for hedges and foundation plantings. There is very little disease pressure with this cultivar as compared to older varieties that are commonly prone to powdery mildew. The stems of the leaves retain their dark pigmentation, giving the plant some added interest when it’s not in full bloom.

Standing Ovation Serviceberry

privacy plant
© Bailey Nurseries

Standing Ovation Serviceberry: A true standout, this multi-season plant has so many functions, and it’s a great screen or vertical accent plant, too. Loaded with white flowers in spring that turn to edible berries in June, this serviceberry attracts all sorts of wildlife and pollinators. In addition to these great features, the plant has a dense, upright oval habit with good branching structure. It is an attractive plant no matter the season. Did I mention it has beautiful fall color, too?

Tianshan® Seven-Son Flower

© Bailey Nurseries

Tianshan® Seven-Son Flower: Continuing the theme of seasonal appeal, if you are looking for a more informal look, Tianshan® checks many boxes. Heptacodium has proven to be very tolerant of a wide range of soils, including those with high clay content, provided water is available from time to time. Still, with flowers that appear in summer combined with shiny, dark green leaves that turn yellow in fall, Tianshan® can be used as a feature plant or as a lovely backdrop. Its beautiful exfoliating bark is also second to none.

Gladiator Crabapple

Gladiator Crabapple: Let’s take it up a notch and mention one of the more ideal ornamental trees that are a great large privacy screen, Gladiator™ Crabapple. Selected in Manitoba, Gladiator™ comes in at 20’ tall by 9’ wide, making it one of the narrower upright varieties on the market. In addition to its upright habit, it has extremely glossy purple leaves, and in spring, it is loaded with bright pink flowers, making it contrast and easily pair with many other landscape plants.

Thuja can be prone to winter burn in many parts of Colorado, yet another fantastic screening plant to keep an eye on is Tall Guy® arborvitae, a selection from the University of Georgia. Other varieties from this breeding program (Planet Earth® and Lemon Burst®) have performed well from Minnesota to Georgia. Tall Guy® has a strong central leader and dense habit, meaning it can handle the snow and presents itself beautifully in every season.

By considering a green solution for privacy fences and borders, you create an inviting space filled with color and texture, and it can even come at a significant cost savings compared to hardscape options. All of these options, and many more, will create seasonal appeal to make a property unique, inviting and green.


  • Alec Charais

    Alec Charais is Chief Marketing & Product Development Officer at Bailey Nurseries, a leader in woody ornamental shrubs and trees with operations in Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, Washington, and Georgia. Bailey is also a breeder of woody ornamental shrubs and is known for its leading consumer brands Endless Summer® Hydrangeas, First Editions® Shrubs & Trees, and Easy Elegance® Roses.

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