7 Screening Plant Styles for Privacy and How to Use Them

Choosing the right plants for your outdoor living space can create seamless transitions between different areas while also offering you more privacy. Here are seven great options for your outdoor space.

Evergreen Trees


Photo: MaxPixel

For year-round coverage, there’s no better option than evergreen trees. They are capable of creating a dense privacy screen while also keeping your space feeling vibrant and welcoming year-round. For full coverage, plant them just close enough together that their branches are touching. A few great choices are longleaf pine, southern magnolia, white spruce and Japanese cedar.

Evergreen Shrubs           

Photo: Google Open

Offering the same benefits as evergreen trees, these shrubs offer lush, year-round coverage. Use them to create low screens around walkways, patios and sitting areas. They also work great at the base of porches or decks. Choose between inkberry, ‘Sungold’ cypress, dahoon holly or saw palmetto.


Photo: Google Open

These plants are best used to create organized columns and clear lines of travel. Hedges are best planted “on center,” meaning if the plant has a mature width of ten feet, plant them every five feet for maximum coverage. Some examples include Carolina cherry laurel, yew plum pine and arborvitae.


Photo: Google Open

Vines spread on their own and can form dense vertical growths perfect for covering pergolas, cables and trellises. This type of plant can form a beautiful living wall, adding visual interest to your outdoor rooms or retaining walls. Try using American wisteria, Virginia creeper or climbing hydrangea.


Add privacy to confined spaces with bamboo. There are two main types: clumping, which adds new growth to the original plant, and running, which will sprout farther away from the original plant. A word of caution … plant bamboo carefully as it is an invasive plant and will spread rapidly. For warm climates, use clumping bamboo. In colder climates, try running bamboo.


Photo: Google Open

If you want a more seasonal barrier, ornamental grasses will offer lush and beautiful blockage during the summer and autumn months. Some species can reach three to four feet in height. Choose between big bluestem, ‘Shenandoah’ switch grass or reed grass.

Weeping Trees

These species offer dense foliage, which is great for privacy. Plant one near a water feature or sitting area to block the sun and add privacy. It’s good to know that weeping trees are fairly expensive and are usually planted as singular specimens. Use the weeping European larch or weeping willow in your outdoor living space.


Combined with other elements like a freestanding wall or fire feature, these plants can add beauty and privacy to your outdoor living space while creating varied and stylistic textures.