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What Shrubs Are Good for Privacy?

forsythia image by rikkidegraz from

Shrubs are a versatile plant that not only add beauty to your landscaping but can also function as low-growing hedges.Taller versions of shrubs are good choices when looking for thick, dense plants to use as a privacy screen between homes, to block unwanted views or for wind screening. Select shrubs that will thrive in the soil conditions and lighting exposure in the area that you will plant them.

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)

Summersweet is a deciduous shrub that reaches heights of 5 to 8 feet and can grown to be 4 to 6 feet wide. It has a rounded or oval shape and dark green leaves that are 1 1/2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. Summersweet produces a small, fragrant white flower in July and August. The shrub prefers moist, acidic soil and full to partial shade conditions. Avoid planting in hot or dry areas. Summersweet plants are used as privacy screens, hedges and shrub borders. They are fairly pest-free but can be attacked by spider mites during dry, hot conditions.

Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

A slow-growing, hardy evergreen shrub, emerald green arborvitae can reach heights of 12 to 14 feet. Width is determined by spacing of the trees--2 to 3 feet is suggested. It has a traditional pyramidal shape and requires little pruning and is relatively pest-free. The tree sports bright green scale-like miniature leaves year-round and does not discolor during the winter. Emerald green arborvitae shrubs prefer full sun to partial sun, and don't do well in shaded areas. They should be planted in well drained soil but must be watered regularly during the first year. Emerald green arborvitae trees are used as wind screens or privacy screens and as decorative borders.

Border Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

A deciduous shrub that reaches 8 to 10 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide, the border forsythia is a vigorous, fast-growing shrub. The leaves are medium to dark green in color and are 3 to 5 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Leaves remain green until late fall and then turn yellow-green. The shrubs produce a bright yellow flower that blooms in clusters during March and April and lasts for two to three weeks. Border forsythia adapt to most soil conditions, are easily established and require full sun for maximum flowering. They are easily pruned or sheared if necessary. Border forsythia are usually pest-free and are best used as privacy screens and shrub borders.

Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)

The sweet olive is an upright shrub that reaches up to 20 feet in height and can expand to 2 to 8 feet in width. The shrubs are usually pruned to 6 to 10 feet when used as hedges, privacy screens or wind screens. Sweet olive shrubs adapt well to any soil but thrive in moist conditions and in sun to partial shade. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and about an inch wide and are shiny green with finely toothed or smooth edges. Tiny, fragrant, white flowers cover the shrub during the fall, winter and spring months and give off a pleasant scent. Sweet olive shrubs also bloom sporadically during the summer. These shrubs are usually pest-free and can be planted in containers for use on porches or patios.

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