The Best Privacy Shrubs

When planted in masses along a backyard patio or grown as a makeshift fence line, tall, dense shrubs provide the best privacy. Shrubs that are evergreen, meaning they retain their foliage throughout the year, often help to create year-round privacy, including in winter. They keep their vibrant green foliage when moist other shrubs have died down for the season. Shrubs that are also drought- and heat-tolerant endure limited amounts of moisture to help ensure a long-lasting plant.

Burford Holly

Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii') is an evergreen shrub with a moderate growth rate and upright form that is dense and rounded, perfect for creating maximum privacy. It reaches a maximum height of 20 feet and a spread of 5-to-10 feet to create an ideal barrier in the landscape. Burford holly shrubs have small, olive green foliage that grows 2-to-3 inches long with a terminal spine on the end of each leaf. Versatile, they are both drought and heat tolerant. Burford holly bares small, white, spring-blooming flowers that are followed by clusters of red berries that last into winter. They grow best in full sun to light shade and tolerate a wide range of soil types. Plant Burford holly shrubs in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9.

Southern Blackhaw Viburnum

Southern blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) is an evergreen shrub that retains its colorful foliage all year long to create maximum privacy. It grows 10-to-20 feet tall and has a spread of 10-to-15 feet. Southern blackhaw viburnum has a moderate growth rate and upright, oval shape that helps to create a useful privacy shrub. The dark green, glossy leaves are leather-like and grow up to 4 inches long; in fall the foliage turns a burgundy to maroon color that lights up the garden. Southern blackhaw viburnum requires part shade and well-drained soil to thrive. It is suitable in Zones 5 to 9.

Common Boxwood

Common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) grows best in Zones 5 to 8. It has a dense, rounded form that carries the foliage down to the ground for the ultimate in privacy. As an evergreen shrub, common boxwood retains its foliage throughout the cooler months of fall and winter to keep the landscape private. It grows 15-to-20 feet tall and has a spread of 10-to-15 feet. The dark green, lustrous leaves grow up to 1-inch long and cast an orange tinge in fall and winter. Common boxwood shrubs are drought tolerant and withstand limited amounts of moisture, making for a hardy privacy shrub. It grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil with a pH level of 6 or higher.

Keywords: best privacy shrubs, Burford holly, southern Blackhaw viburnum, common boxwood

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.