Best plants for privacy to protect your garden retreat

Screen out nosy neighbours and block unsightly views with the best plants for privacy UK

A tall Molinia Caerulea growing amongst shrubs and perennials showing autumn colour in early November.

by Piper Huxley & Emma Kendell |

Tired of neighbours peeking over the garden fence? Invest in screening plants for privacy to block out any unsightly views or disguise boundaries, because we want you to enjoy your garden in peace.

Whether you’re promising yourself a summer BBQ get-together or throwing a high-society garden soiree inspired by Bridgerton, you owe it to yourself to protect your private garden retreat. From floral to fruity, these plants, once established, will look good in the ground, or on your decking.

How to pick the right screening plants for privacy

Before planting, decide what ultimate height you need the screen to be and decide on plants that will not outgrow the allocated space - or take too long to grow to the height you desire.

Further, make sure the ground is prepared. Find out what soil type you have in your garden as well as its pH. You need to determine which direction your plants will have to face, as well as the shelter and shade they may receive. Moisture is also something to investigate.

Choosing the correct plant for your garden and lifestyle will ensure that your screening plants have a good start and thrive in the future. You need to keep the space around your screening plants in mind as the roots can spread, so be mindful of drains and buildings.

The best screening plants for privacy in the UK

This evergreen tree has gloriously shiny leaves with rust-coloured undersides and pure white, goblet-shaped flowers that open late in summer with an intense, sweet, citrusy fragrance. It doesn’t like strong winds but if you have a sheltered plot then it’ll shield you from your neighbours’ gaze in style.

For a compact garden, choose smaller varieties ‘Little Gem’.

Height: 8-12m

Spread: 8m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist but well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Sheltered

Use this easy-to-grow ornamental grass that erupts in summer with feathery plumes of flowers to create the perfect airy screen for a seating area. The blooms gradually fade to golden and the bleached stems and foliage last well into winter, so it’ll shield you through late-season evenings, too.

Height: 1-1.5m

Spread: 0.5-1m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist but well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

Ideal for compact gardens, this deciduous tree will add privacy without plunging your plot into the shade, with lots of smaller leaflets making up the individual fern-like leaves. These turn striking shades of purple and red in autumn with crimson-red fruit that fades to a pretty prink.

Height: 2.5-4m

Spread: 2.5-4m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Well-drained

pH: Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

This bushy, deciduous tree has a delicate framework of branches so it’ll obstruct the view without blocking out too much sunshine. It will bring masses of white flowers and attractive bronze foliage to your plot in spring and, in summer, dark red fruit that blackbirds will devour.

Height: 2.5-4m

Spread: 2.5-4m

Growing Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist, but well-drained

pH: Acid, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

We love this twining, woody climber at Modern Gardens because it’s so easy to grow as long as you give it a sunny, south or west-facing spot. To add privacy to your outside space, grow it across trellis panels attached to the top of a fence or wall where its evergreen leaves will screen year-round. Enjoy the scent of clusters of highly fragrant, white flowers in summer too.

Height: 8-12m

Spread: 4-8m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, East or West facing.

• Sheltered

Want to swap your front fence for a no-nosy-parkers hedge? The leaves of this evergreen shrub unfurl a striking bright red in spring then mature to a sumptuous dark green. Trim it up to three times a year for a fresh flush of red shoots each time.

Height: 2.5-4m

Spread: 2.5-4m

Growing Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist, but well-drained

pH: Acid, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun, Partial Shade

• South, East, North or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

This ornamental pear with white blossom unfurling from charming pink buds is one of the best deciduous trees for privacy, thanks to its lovely conical shape which obscures neighbouring houses nicely! It’s also early into leaf in spring, yet one of the last to lose its foliage in autumn.

Height: 12m

Spread: 4-8m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist, but well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

Turn a seating area into a private sanctuary with a screen of this statuesque grass. Its slender leaves have a distinctive white stripe down the centre and the silky flower heads are nothing short of magnificent.

Height: 1.5-2.5m

Spread: 1-1.5m

Growing Conditions: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Moisture: Moist, but well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Full Sun

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Exposed or Sheltered

With colourful yellow-green canes and dainty leaves that move easily in the wind, Fargesia murielae makes a fabulous screen along a fence boundary, giving plenty of privacy for a small footprint. Its rustling masks traffic noise, too. Bamboo can be invasive but this one is compact enough to go into a pot.

Height: 2.5-4m

Spread: 1-1.5m

Growing Conditions: Clay, Loam

Moisture: Moist, but well-drained

pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Position:

• Partial Shade

• South, North, East or West facing.

• Sheltered

FAQs

Which is the fastest growing screening plant?

Bamboo, generally, grows the fastest.

Read More: The Royal Horticultural Society’s page on Fargesia murielae

Which of these screening plants can be put into pots?

If you’re looking to get privacy in your garden, but you don’t have any shrub space in the soil, you can pot these plants into larger containers and leave them on your decking or patio:

Fargesia murielae

Miscanthus Sinensis

Feather Reed Grass “Karl Foerster”

Do I need planning permission to plant screening plants?

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, any new tree or hedge planting, adjacent to or nearby a public right of way or highway, may require the consent of the Highways and Byways department of your local council.

Check that the covenants attached to your property do not prohibit the planting of specified species or features.

Check whether your property is in a Conservation Area, too.

What to read next

Recycled garden buys to go green gorgeously

The best garden pods to buy in the UK

Best solar lanterns for the garden

Best rainwater catchers for wet weather gardening

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us