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Create the Perfect Privacy Screen: My Top 8 Tested Tall Plants for Screening

Last updated on March 23rd, 2023

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One of the best ways to provide your garden with division and privacy is to use tall plants to create screening. Fast-growing screening plants help you to add height to your garden, grow alongside an existing fence and further prevent intruders, and of course, give you much needed privacy which is probably the most common reason for planting plants for screening. There are so many tall plants that you can use for screening that will grow very quickly, fill up whatever space you have, and can be interspersed amongst one another to add variety and colour to your garden.

The best tall plants for screening

  1. Fargesia Murielae Bamboo
  2. Photina Red Robin
  3. Magnolia grandiflora
  4. Dogwood (Cornus)
  5. Prunus Laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel)
  6. Cypress Trees
  7. Elaeagnus x  ebbingei (Silverberry)
  8. Ceanothus Concha (California Lilac)

Below you will find eight of the best plants for screening to integrate into your garden, starting with bamboo which also works well in pots for screening:

1. Fargesia Murielae Bamboo

Known as the umbrella bamboo for its shape and design, this variety reaches an average height of 4 metres and provides tightly grown groups of bamboo stems thanks to its clumping method of spreading.

Known as the umbrella bamboo for its shape and design, this variety reaches an average height of 4 metres and provides tightly grown groups of bamboo stems thanks to its clumping method of spreading. It should be spaced about 1.5 metres apart when grown for screening, but rest assured it will quickly spread in and fill the spaces you have in between. In fact, with its growth habit, you will find hundreds of canes growing out of even the smallest region. It typically circumvents the issue of the V shape other bamboo plants commonly produce which is why it offers more of an upright habit that is perfect for creating screening compared to other varieties. 

This bamboo provides thick foliage, needs partial shade, and will survive under the most severe of conditions to which bamboo can be exposed. You can trim 20% of the leaning canes every June and watch as the plant comes back upright and new the following year. It also works well when planted in larger pots as screening too.

2. Photina Red Robin

Photinia red robin hedge planted to screen our fields

This broadleaf evergreen shrub can reach a height of up to 4 metres and a spread between 3 and 4 metres. It produces white flowers that are showy and fragrant during the early spring, so if you prefer screening that is aromatic too, this is a great option to include. It grows well in medium moist, well-drained soil and prefers anywhere between partial shade and full sun. It can be grown in areas of full shade, however, you won’t get the same floriferous qualities. After you see the red growth start to fade in spring, you can prune it to thin it out and offer better air circulation, especially in the winter. 

This plant is noted for its fast growth and the red tops/tips that complement the evergreen colour. The bright red leaves of spring and the serrated edges of the new growth start to change into a rich evergreen thereafter, giving a leaf display that ranges in colour. As if that wasn’t enough, the white flowers appear in April and bring a Hawthorn-like scent. If you do not want the aroma, but want the red and green leaves, you can always prune the flowers at the start of spring.

You can learn more about growing Photinia ‘red robin’ here

3. Magnolia grandiflora

This showy hardy tree is one that spreads quite effectively and if not pruned it will reach heights and spreads of up to 8 meters so it's something you want to plant in an area that can support a large tree.

This variety of magnolia is considered one of the hardiest, especially for severe winter weather. It is a tree and it will reach heights upwards of 25 metres and a spread between 10 metres and 15 metres but it does well in large pots too. You can use these to create screening across larger properties, particularly along the perimeter of your property and they look amazing in flower. It does well in full sun or partial shade and medium watering. The tree is best known for its flowers which are fragrant and showy, blooming white between May and June. 

This tree has stunning, dark green leaves and large white flowers that appear in the spring with some continued blooms in summer. Eventually, the flowers will produce fruiting clusters come early autumn. Unlike most other Magnolias, this variety is also evergreen making it even better for screening as it provides cover all year round.

4. Dogwood – Cornus

The red-barked dogwood 'Elegantissima' which had bright red stems in winter and beautiful variegated foliage in summer is one of our favourites and grows to around 2.5 meters but can be pruned back hard every spring.

Dogwood, both a tree and a shrub, is known for its stunning bracts of white or pink flowers and the minimal care requirements, it is also equally popular for the bright stems in winter, as pictured above. When you use Dogwood in your garden as part of your screening, you can choose from many types, including single-trunked trees to small shrubs. The most common include the flowering dogwood, Pagoda dogwood and the Cornelian cherry dogwood. These all prefer partial shade but if you water them well they will thrive in full sun. 

Dogwoods grow very quickly, about 30cm or more each year. So it takes no more than a decade for a single tree to reach full maturity. Different types bring to your garden a range of colours for the petal-like bracts of flowers such as pale pink, bright pink, white, and pale red. The dogwood offers stunning colour all year round regardless, with the leaves changing colour come autumn to a red-purple shade before they drop. These shrubs are best pruned back in spring and allowed to grow because this helps keep the stems looking spectacular in winter as the old branches turn brown and lose their striking colours.

5. Prunus Laurocerasus – Cherry Laurel (hedging laurels)

The Cherry Laurel is a broad spreading shrub that produces long, dark green leaves reaching upwards of 15cm in length. The flowers produced take on an array of stunning colours with a strong fragrance of plum. The flowers are produced in racemes during the middle of summer and eventually produce red fruits whose shades convert to a purple-black in autumn. While these are not fruits you should eat, they are sure to bring an array of birds flocking to your garden. 

A fast-growing shrub, this is a superb selection for any privacy screens (or other screening) in your garden. It is commonly used for hedging and sold as laurel hedging. At its maturity, it will reach between 4 and 12 metres wide, spreading outwards more than it spreads upwards, and heights of between 3 and 10 metres. This plant loves partial shade or full sun and well-drained soil. You can prune it after the flowers have appeared but otherwise, very little maintenance is necessary. This makes a fantastic screen and comes into its own if left unpruned.

6. Cypress Trees

Cypress trees come in many varieties, over 130 species to be exact, which means there is sure to be something for your garden. The leaves range in colour from silver-green to dark green. They grow in whorled patterns or spirals and handle just about any soil type. Most people think of cypress trees and tall narrow trees but many varieties such as Thuja Plicata (as pictured above) are wider and make excellent screens if spaced and trimmed a couple of times a year.

7. Elaeagnus x ebbingei – Silverberry

This hybrid broadleaf evergreen is easily grown in well-drained soil with partial sun or full shade. It is tolerant of shade but it does best with full sun. The lack of sunlight will deter flowers but the plant itself will be sustained. This is a very fast growing shrub and just like other shrubs on this list, it is incredibly tolerant of a wide variety of soils even soil that is otherwise considered poor and infertile. As long as you don't have incredibly wet soil or incredibly dry soil it will do just fine.

This plant is perfect for sandy, loamy soil in full sun and even partial shade. Once established it will tolerate drought quite well, and it makes an excellent choice for coastal areas. As a fast-growing shrub, you can place it anywhere with infertile soil, as long as you have good drainage.

Commonly referred to as the Silverberry, it gets its name from the rounded shape and leaves that take on a leathery, elliptical appearance. Their colours include green and silver scales. Come autumn the leaves are accented by the creamy white flowers and these aromatic flowers lead the way for small, red/brown fruits that become edible in spring.

You can plant this anywhere you need a screen, and it works well as part of an erosion control plan. It will grow in a rounded shape to approximately 3-4 metres in height and spread. Very easy to cultivate, the only real issues you need to be aware of include spider mites and fungal leaf spot but this isn’t a problem for most people. Finally, you can also get variegated varieties too. 

8. Ceanothus Concha – California Lilac

Commonly referred to as the California Liliac, this plant is sure to add something extra to your garden and is a fantastic screening plant.

Commonly referred to as the California Liliac, this plant is sure to add something extra to your garden and is a fantastic screening plant. If you want a colourful screen, the rich lilac blues/purples from these flowers will do the trick. From a distance, they are stunning, with what appears to be an overwhelming floriferous display of small, cotton-like clusters. Up close you will see they are even more stunning. They are so overwhelmed with flowers in spring that you won’t even notice the greenery underneath. The shrub brings to your garden butterflies, birds, and much-needed bees and is otherwise ignored by deer so it might make a good shrub if you live in an area where these beautiful animals can be a problem. 

It will span between 120-240cm in height and 180-360cm in spread. The milder your climate, the larger your shrub will be. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Remember that with any of these, you can always choose to mix and match to create informal hedging. If you are lucky enough to have a somewhat larger space you can add one variety along your perimeter wall right up against the fence and another around an existing structure or as a border around a seating area in your garden.

Find plants that you enjoy, and require just the right amount of maintenance you are able to provide. Most shrubs and trees when planted for screening, don’t generally require any pruning maintenance, so make sure you keep them well watered for the first 12 months.

Last update on 2023-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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