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Tall, narrow privacy shrubs

Updated February 21, 2017

If the view next door fails to enthral, or if privacy is what you need, try planting a row of tall, narrow evergreen shrubs. They can act as a living wall for a garden, providing structure and visual interest. When grouped together, tall, narrow evergreen shrubs also muffle noise, block wind and mask unwanted views. Make sure the shrubs you plant are evergreen, so they provide privacy all year round.

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Arbor vitae

Arbor vitae are ideal shrubs for privacy screens. These pyramidal hedges have soft, bright green foliage, require little maintenance and are inexpensive. Plant them in full sun, and they will perform well. Pyramidalis arbor vitae quickly grows 4.5 to 6 m (15 to 20) feet tall by 90 cm to 1.2 m (3 to 4 feet) wide. Green Giant arbor vitae grows 90 cm (3 feet) per year, with a mature height of 50 to 60 feet and a 3.6 to 6 m (12 to 20) foot spread. These shrubs are winter hardy to -34 degrees Celcius (-30 degrees Fahrenheit).


The yew (Taxus) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that is easy to grow, inexpensive and amenable to pruning. Most yews are hardy in all regions of the UK. Plant them in full sun in any soil that isn't overly moist. The golden English yew has drooping branches and needles edged with gold. It grows 4.5 m (15 feet) tall and 1.8 m (6 feet) wide. The dwarf cap yew, a more compact variety, grows 1.8 to 2.4 m (6 to 8 feet) tall and wide.


Viburnums are adaptable, fast-growing shrubs that make good screens and wind blocks. An especially good option for privacy is the evergreen leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum), which maintains its dark green, roughly textured leaves all winter. It has white flowers in May, followed by red berries turning to black. Leatherleaf grows 3 to 4.5 m (10 to 15 feet) tall and 90 cm to 1.2 m (3 to 4 feet) wide.


Another fast-growing columnar evergreen shrub that makes a good privacy screen is the juniper. The tallest, narrowest one is the skyrocket juniper (Juniperus scopulorum Skyrocket), which grows to 4.5 to 6 m (15 to 20 feet) tall and only 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3) feet wide. Skyrocket juniper has silvery blue foliage and grows best in full sun. Use one for a specimen plant, or line them up for a privacy screen.

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