Fast Growing Hedges for Privacy

Hedges are one of nature’s most effective shields against a whole host of environmental pollutants. They also create a less ominous and more aesthetically appealing enclosure than stark wood or metal fences. 

For those with the right location, resources and horticultural know-how, fast growing hedges for privacy can create a perfect structural solution to and a delightful suburban sanctuary. Hedge plants also provide vital food supply and shelter for a diverse range of wildlife all year round. 

With a multitude of varieties to choose from, your garden variety gardener, amateur or professional, is spoiled for choice. 

Types of Privacy Hedges

Once you have decided upon a privacy hedge, the next question will be which type is right for your particular space. This can be narrowed down by first thinking about whether you require reliably lush evergreens which offset your other perennials, or cheerful summer flowers which attract bees or autumn berries to add rich color and food for grateful birds.

Before I detail specific botanical privacy hedges, let’s look at these broader categories and their respective attributes.

Evergreen Hedge Plants for Privacy

Evergreen Hedge Plants for Privacy

Evergreen hedges, including this stunning Yew hedge, have very dense foliage as well as a fast growth cycle and this combination makes them a perfect choice for anyone looking for long-lasting privacy which won’t take ages to grow. 

Along with year-round lush green foliage many evergreen hedge varieties have the ability to thrive in sub-optimal soil conditions and often only need minimal sunlight to create a stunning structure whilst ensuring privacy for your property. 

The prime advantage of an evergreen hedge, is as the name implies, its permanency. Many of these topiary species require very little supervisory care when fully established thus leaving you more time to enjoy the privacy a hedge can bring. 

Flowering Hedge Plants for Privacy

Flowering Hedge Plants for Privacy

An artistic step up from lush, year-long greenery is the flowering variety of hedges like this Oleander, a red evergreen shrub that flowers beautifully throughout summer. 

For those who desire a touch of beauty with their privacy, this type of hedge plant offers much more than the utilitarian functionality of a non-flowering evergreen. 

But don’t be misled by the delicate charm, many flowering hedge plants can withstand some of the harshest climates that mother nature has in her arsenal. 

Whether it’s the searing heat of a tropical or subtropical summer’s day or the blustering gusts of a cruel nor’easter, there’s likely a suitable variety to stand firm against such meteorological intrusions. 

Thus, It’s not just the foundation of privacy and the embellishments of flowery charm, but also beneficial structural reliability too.

Fruit-Bearing Hedge Plants for Privacy

Fruit Bearing Hedge Plants for Privacy

Of course, not every privacy hedge can yield an eternal spring, but fruit-bearing hedges, such as the Barberry Hedge pictured above, can at least bring to the eye a reflection of enticing seasonal changes. 

When the lush full-bloom greenery of the spring and summer months gives way to the cooler climes of fall, a fruit-bearing privacy hedge responds to the meteorological shift with an appropriate display of autumnal vivacity with golden and russet colour leaves and ruddy-hued berries.  

Another advantage of fruit-bearing hedges is their capacity to attract a myriad of songbirds and other low-flying aviary species. Making this border shrub less of a static, attractive monolith and more of a vibrant ecosystem.

Fast-Growing Hedge Plants for Sound Insulation

Fast Growing Hedge Plants for Sound Insulation

There are many fast-growing hedge plants which make a crucial contribution to sound reduction. Ideally, you are looking for a hedge plant with very dense and rapid growth habits when it comes to filtering out neighbourhood noise. 

Some, such as the Hawthorn, will have the added advantage of being inhospitable to intruders due to their spiky thorns. Other hedges guaranteed to create a buffer zone against auditory nuisances are Beech (pictured) Blackthorn, Holly, Leylandii, Juniper and Yew.

Fast Growing Hedges for Filtering Pollution

Hedges are remarkably good at filtering pollution from the air, trapping it within their stems and leaves until it is washed away by the rain. 

Planted near busy roads, they can even filter out particles from diesel engines. In fact, researchers have found that roadsides with only hedges have an overall improvement in airborne pollutants by over 60%. 

Some of the best hedge plants for filtering out air pollution are Leylandii (pictured) Cotoneaster, Viburnum Tinus and Privet. 

Fast-Growing Hedges for Visual Screening

Fast Growing Hedges for Visual Screening

If you need a fast-growing hedge plant to establish a visual boundary, you will need dense, uniform foliage and low-maintenance resilience. 

A lovely lush hedge with glossy leaves will give you privacy whilst still allowing the sun to filter through in a way that a much more intrusive fence will not. 

When focussing on natural screening, you need your hedge plants to almost create a block, neatly minimising the visual access to your personal space. 

Ideal hedge plants to take up this task are Cherry laurel (pictured) Leyland Cypress, Arborvitae, Privet and English Yew. 

7 Best Fast-Growing Privacy Hedge Plants 

While it’s not uncommon for homeowners to install fences and walls to quickly generate privacy around their property, they certainly don’t have the color, texture, form and durability of a living hedge. 

A man-made structure will also require a certain amount of maintenance and refurbishment after just a few years of weathering. On the other hand, a fast-growing hedge will provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment and aesthetic pleasure and will just get better with age. 

I’ve chosen the following 7 fast-growing hedge plants, based on their growth habits, size at maturity, structure, form and distinguishing features. All of these offer something slightly different to make them perfectly unique for helping you create a wonderful privacy screen in your landscape.

1. Camellia Sinensis 

Camellia sinensis
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Low-maintenance and sturdy
  • Non-toxic to humans and animals

Thriving in USDA Zones 7-9, Camellia Sinensis can tolerate low winter temperatures and bloom for weeks from fall to spring. Native to East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and South-East Asia, today it is grown around the world. 

Camellia Sinensis can be as imposing as 10-15 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide and will make a magnificent border of dense, dark green leaves offering fast-growing privacy for you and your property. It has beautiful white flowers with yellow stamens. It grows remarkably well even in partial shade and is easy to structure into an attractive screen. 

It will take 3 years to reach maturity but will grow faster when watered frequently. They like a soil Ph of between 6-6.5 which is kept fairly moist.

2. Laurel (Prunus Lauracena)

Laurel (Prunus Lauracena)
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Easy to care for
  • Contains toxic compounds

Thriving throughout USDA Zones 6-9 this species is native to South-Eastern Europe and North West Europe. It will do well in full sun or partial shade as long as it receives sufficient amounts of water whilst its root system is being established. 

The laurel has an abundance of tiny white flowers which are fragrant in the spring. When winter comes, it will bear little black-red berries. 

It can easily reach 20-30 ft and its rapidly growing foliage will make it an ideal privacy hedge to screen windows and any unsightly views. 

Best taken as cuttings in September or October, Laurel is easy to propagate from an established plant by pushing directly into soil with a Ph of 6.0-6.5. When new, it should be watered regularly, especially within the first year. In the summer months, every 2-4 days will not be too much if the ground is dry or sandy. 

As with all Laurel hedging varieties, apart from the Bay Laurel, all parts of this shrub are poisonous to humans and animals. 

3. Rhododendron

Rhododendron
  • Likes a little sun or moderate shade
  • Easy to grow and undemanding once established
  • Toxic if ingested

Hardy through USDA Zones 4-8, Rhododendrons are naturally found in a wide range of habitats which include, alpine regions and temperate rainforests. This extremely dense shrub will outgrow practically all its horticultural companions and can reach heights of 3-8 feet relatively quickly. As a matter of fact, they have no optimum height and can keep growing indefinitely. Some varieties can grow as much as 20 ft in a single season. 

When it comes to privacy, their evergreen status means they provide incredible screening all year round. As it requires little sun and can thrive quite happily even in moderate or indirect light, it is a perfect option for those who require privacy in a shadier location. 

The soil for your Rhododendron must be kept moist without becoming too drenched. Try mulching with compost on a regular basis. They require very little or no pruning so are a great, self-sufficient choice. Try keeping them in bounds if you are trying to shape them to fit a specific space. They are a naturally informal plant and this trait is better nurtured than regulated. 

Rhododendrons contain toxic compounds which are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. 

4. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Partial to full sun or light shade
  • Tough and easy to care for
  • Toxic only in high doses

Characterized by their dense, thorny habit, Hawthorn hedges are typically found in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Hardy in USDA Zones 3-9, the Hawthorn is a fairly common shrub which can reach 5 ft tall in sunny woodlands and hillsides around the world.

 In May, you will be gifted with tiny clusters of pink, white and red flowers which will turn to red berries in the Fall. The bark is fissured and the slender twigs are covered in thorns. 

The best method for propagating Hawthorn is to save the seeds from the fruit and start in soil with a Ph of 6.0-7.5. This shade-tolerant hedge plant likes an acidic environment which is moist but well-drained. 

You can rely on a Hawthorn hedge plant to create an impenetrable, fast-growing barrier providing privacy for you and your home. With a growth speed of between 40-60cm per year, you should remember to check for nesting birds before trimming as it is an attractive home for them as well as many other wildlife species. 

During the second year of planting and between February and March, hard pruning is recommended to encourage thick, dense growth, especially if you want your Hawthorn hedge to serve as an almost opaque privacy screen. 

Hawthorn berries are not toxic but do contain a chemical called amygdalin which can cause cyanide poisoning in high doses. 

5. Lilac Hedge (Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac Hedge (Syringa vulgaris)
  • Full sun or partial shade 
  • Easy to care for
  • Not toxic

Most Lilac hedges thrive in USDA Zones 3-7, however, there are some varieties which are cold-loving and can extend into Zones 2 (Scentara Double Blue is one such variety). 

This flowering hedge is native to the Balkan Peninsula where it grows on rocky hilltops. It is generally found in the wild where it can reach heights of 20-23 ft. Interestingly, it produces secondary shoots from the base or roots. The leaves are light green and oval in opposite pairs or sometimes in a cluster of three. 

The fruit is a smooth, rich brown capsule containing 2 seeds. As part of the olive family, it’s no surprise that they are completely edible. 

The lilac hedge will provide you not only with a dense privacy shield but one rich with butterflies and bees. This impressive, flowering shrub will beautify the landscape whilst protecting your property creating a particularly mesmerizing enclosure if you choose to let it reach its colorful potential. 

You can expect your lilac to grow 30-60 cm a year and this fast growth combined with its hardiness and beauty make it a horticultural favorite among new plant parents and veteran gardeners alike. 

6. Cherry Laurel

Cherry Laurel
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Low maintenance 
  • Can be toxic if ingested

The Cherry Laurel is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9 and is native to South-East Europe and Turkey. It enjoys full sun and yet it can tolerate heavily shaded areas. Perhaps this is what has earned it a reputation as so very tough. It is a large and voracious evergreen shrub which can grow 20’ tall and 10 ft wide in a relatively short space of time. 30-60 cm per year is to be expected and it will stay equally beautiful throughout the winter months. 

It will produce delicate white flowers in the spring and vibrant red berries in the autumn and is ideal as a decorative yet functional privacy screen for your property. 

To propagate, take a 15 cm cutting in spring whilst it is in bud and plant immediately in good soil with a Ph of 7.1-8.0. 

Watering is best done when the soil has dried out and it is worth taking a moment to concentrate on the lower zone as it is a very deep-rooted shrub. As long as the soil is kept damp and well-drained, it will be happy. 

7. Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
  • Full sun or light shade
  • Easy to care for, highly resistant
  • Non-toxic

This easy-to-care-for hedge plant is especially resilient in the marshes and swamps of North Carolina but will thrive very well in USDA Zones 7-10. As well as being very easy on the eye in a restoration garden setting, it will also prove itself to be among the best privacy hedges due to its dense foliage and fast growth rate. 

Particularly useful in a coastal setting, this hardy hedge plant can tolerate drenched soil as well as salt spray. 

Another reason the Wax Myrtle is a gardening favorite is its beautiful aroma. In fact,  Valdosta State University has discovered that Wax Myrtle’s irresistible scent is an inbuilt defense mechanism: the sweet-smelling aromatic compounds double as a natural insect repellent. This is a definite bonus for someone looking for a fast-growing, easy-to-maintain privacy hedge. 

Growing from 3-5 ft per year, this is, without doubt, one of the fastest-growing privacy hedges around. Once established, it will be resistant to drought, heat and shade. It can also be used as a low-rise windbreaker, something which will come in handy if you are by the sea. 

The Wax Myrtle’s name originates from one of its most interesting characteristics: its lightly-colored berries coated in aromatic wax with an unmistakable candle fragrance. 

Hedge Plants for Privacy FAQ

What is the best hedge plant for privacy? 

One of the most frequently used hedge plants for privacy is the Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). It is dense as well as broad and its vigorous, dark green leaves provide beauty as well as reliable screening, whether from noise, pollution or prying eyes. 

What is the fastest-growing hedge plant for privacy

When it comes to growing a privacy hedge in a short space of time, I recommend Leylandii (Cupressus x leylandii). With a growth rate of 91-152 cm per year, the disease-resistant Leylandii requires little maintenance and makes an immediate difference to the landscape.  

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.