The Best Kinds of Plants to Use to Block the View Over Your Fence

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Many people dislike the feeling that they're constantly being watched while using their own yard. Whether it's nosy neighbours peeking over your fence or a taller building providing sight lines into your yard, there are plants available to help protect your privacy, ones that grow taller than your fence to add an extra layer of visual protection. If you want to address your privacy needs immediately, be sure to select a fast-growing option.


Bamboo is one of the best options for a privacy plant for its sheer capacity to grow and spread. There are two general types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running bamboo can grow 3 to 5 feet annually, and spread at about the same rate. Clumping bamboo grows and spreads 1 to 2 feet each year. Bamboo plants are also hardy and do well in a variety of conditions, although they prefer loamy soil and a growing environment in which their roots are fully covered with mulch. Each bamboo stalk is called a culm, and can live for more than 10 years. Bamboo plants take well to pruning--cut just above a node on the culm at the desired height--making bamboo easy to maintain at a uniform level. Beware, however, of how quickly bamboo spreads; it may take over your yard if you're not careful about pruning and removing unwanted culms.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon are deciduous shrubs or small trees. They reach 8 to 12 feet in height, and spread about 6 to 10 feet wide. The plants are vase-shaped, so the top will be wider than the lower trunk, making it a good option to provide the most privacy screening possible over the fence. Space Rose of Sharon about 2 to 3 feet apart; this allows the plants to form into a privacy screen as they grow. Little pruning is necessary to maintain their shape. As a bonus, these plants also provide vibrant flowers each year. Rose of Sharon plants feature purple, violet, white, pink and red flowers that grow 2 to 4 inches. This plants is tolerant of a variety of growing conditions, but needs good watering, and will flower better if partially shielded when the sun is at its strongest.

Techny Arborvitae

Techny arbor vitae, an evergreen tree also known as a mission arbor vitae, is a good privacy plant option in colder climates. These plants can grow several feet annually, making them a quicker method of achieving privacy. Techny arbor vitae tends to grow in a pyramid shape, so close plantings may be necessary to provide a full privacy screen. Arbor vitae prefers moist, alkaline soils, but it will grow in acidic or dry soils. These trees do best in full or partial sun. Exercise caution if you have pets who like to chew on trees, as all parts of the techny arbor vitae are toxic if ingested.

Tulip Poplar

Despite the name, tulip poplars belong to the magnolia family. They grow rapidly--up to 6 feet per year--quickly creating a privacy screen above your fence. At its mature stage, this tree reaches 80 to 120 feet tall with a width of 30 to 40 feet. Given its large size, however, this tree may overtake nearby plantings. The tulip poplar features green leaves that turn a vibrant yellow in fall, along with green-yellow flowers in spring. It prefers an average amount of moisture, not doing well in soaked or dry soil.

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