“I recently moved into a new house, and my neighbors aren't exactly what I dreamed of…What do you have in the way of quite fast growing shrubs for privacy?”

This is a common question year 'round. Privacy is important! One important thing to consider is that the faster something grows, the more you'll have to manage it. This means sometimes pruning 3 times a year! If you choose something that may take a little longer to fill in, it will require less work in the long term.

Rose Hedge

Print out this handy guide for selecting hedge plants: Hedges and Screens.

Guidelines for establishing hedges and screens.

Spacing: Plants could be placed close enough to fill in a single season, but this may lead to problems down the road from overcrowding. We recommend leaving a minimum of 2 feet between plants. If the plant grows 1 foot per year, space plants four feet apart.

Timing: The best time to plant hedge material is in spring for evergreens and fall for deciduous plants. A healthy hedge will take 2 - 3 years to fill in before you get a dense screen. Bamboo will be the same if clumps are planted 5’ apart.

Planting: We encourage planting in the cooler part of the day to alleviate st ress on the plants (and the planter). When planting a hedges, amend the soil with 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil. Dig your holes twice as wide as the container and a little deeper. Make sure the sides of the holes are not smooth like the inside of a pot. Tho roughly water the plants after planting.

Maintenance: Regular water is the primary element of a healthy hedge. We recommend watering slowly for an hour once a week. This is essential for the first and second years while the plants are getting settled. As the plants mature, infrequent, but deep watering in the hottest parts of the year are all that may be needed Fertilizing three times a year can create a screen faster. See the Information Desk for fertilizing and pruning details.


Thuja occidentalis: Arborvitae

Upright, narrow, low-maintenance. Prune for height but rarely width.

Problems: mites and breakage.


Buxus: Boxwood

Commonly used for low fence-like hedges, but can grow large over time. Slow growing. Prune once a year for shape.

Problems: smelly flowers, mites.



Many viburnum options will work. This one is Viburnum davidii: evergreen, white flowers, blue berries, 4' x 5- 6'. See our article on Viburnum.

Euonymus japonicus 'Ovatus Aureus'

Euonymus japonica: Euonymus

Evergreen leaves can be green or a mix of green and gold or white. Moderate growth rate, prune once a year.

Problems: powdery mildew.


Ligustrum: Privet

Upright oval shape. Moderate growth rate. Prune once a year.


Taxus: Yew

Fat and soft green needles form a dense screen. Some Yews grow upright and narrow, others low and wide. Takes pruning very well and likes sun or shade. Moderate growth, prune once a year.

Unique Hedge Options



Evergreen grass-family of plants com in running or clumping forms. Running types must be contained, but fill in quickly. Clumping types grow slowly and are shrubbier. Prune once a year.

Problems: mites and containing running types is work!



Hedges that you can eat!.

Blueberries come in evergreen and deciduous types and grow between 2 and 6 foot tall. Prune once a year, if at all.

Problems: keeping birds from eating all the fruit!


Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Blue flowers and evergreen leaves, drought tolerant and fast growing. Grows wider than tall but prunes well. Flowers attract bees. Refer to our articles on Ceanothus and on Native Ceanothus.

Choisya ternata Lich

Choisya ternata: Mexican Orange

Green or gold evergreen leaves, white scented flowers. Grows 3' to 6'.

Nice choice for shade.

Columnar Apple Trees

Columnar Apple Trees

Columnar Apple Trees grow only 12' tall and 2' wide. See our article on Espaliered Fruit Trees.

Hinoki Cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa: Hinoki Cypress

'Gracilis' or 'Well's Special'. Upright slender conifers with fan-like leaves. Grows to 25' x 6'.



Culinary hedges! Lavender flowers, 3-4' tall, smells delicious.