If you're looking for a natural way to screen an overlooked backyard, a hedge is one of the best options out there. True, erecting a fence may be the quickest way to seclude your spot, but they lack that green and seamless look of trees or hedges - and of course, they're not a wildlife-friendly option either. The good news is, there are a few hedges out there that grow so fast that they'll create a private outdoor space in next to no time, and it will only grow better year after year too.
As Lina Cowley, gardening expert at Trimmed Roots, puts it: 'Creating a private oasis in your backyard can be a game-changer for your outdoor living experience, but sometimes, building a fence or wall isn't the most aesthetically pleasing option.' That's where fast-growing hedges come in. 'They provide a natural barrier that's both beautiful and practical,' she adds.
To help you find a leafy alternative for your private outdoor space, we've asked those in the know for their recommendations of the best fast-growing hedges. Here are six evergreen options that you're sure to love.
1. Leyland Cypress
This evergreen spruce is a common sight in backyards across the country, thriving in hardiness zones 6-10. It produces dense foliage with mid-green or blue-green sprays made up of scale-like needles which give a feathery appearance.
'The Leyland Cypress is a popular option for fast-growing hedges due to its rapid growth rate of up to 3 feet per year,' says Lina Cowley of Trimmed Roots. 'It can grow up to 70 feet tall if left untrimmed and is an especially good option for privacy due to its dense foliage that can block out unwanted views.'
The dark green coloring makes an attractive addition to your backyard, too. When used to border your space as a landscaping idea it makes a beautiful backdrop for a colorful display of flower beds. 'It's also low maintenance, which makes it a great option for those who don't have a lot of time to spend on their landscaping,' notes Zeeshan Haider, founder of Greenry Enthusiast. In its tree variety, which has a conical shape, it's also one of the best fast-growing trees for privacy.
2. Emerald Green Arborvitae
If you're looking for something similar to the Leyland Cypress that's a little bit more compact, try Emerald Green Arborvitae. 'This plant grows to around 12-14 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide, making it perfect for small backyards,' says Zeeshan. 'It also has a beautiful, vibrant green color that can add a nice pop of color to your landscaping.'
According to Lina, this shrub can grow up to 3-5 feet per year under the right conditions. 'It's also a low-maintenance option, making it perfect for those who don't want to spend a lot of time trimming and pruning,' she says. For it to grow at its maximum capacity, an Emerald Green Arborvitae hedge prefers full sun (at least six hours a day) but will equally tolerate cold weather conditions, so it's best suited for hardiness zones 3-8.
Privet hedges and picket fences are the epitome of the suburban yard. Also known by its botanical name, Ligustrum, this shrub has dense and vibrant green leaves and can often be spotted around the perimeter of a yard as a natural privacy barrier where it's as aesthetically pleasing as it is practical. So, when it comes to ways to make your backyard more private, it makes an excellent choice.
'This fast-growing deciduous shrub can grow up to 24 inches per year and has a maximum height of around 12 feet if left untrimmed,' explains Lina. 'It's also a great option for those who want to create a formal hedge due to its ability to be easily trimmed and shaped.' For the fastest growing results, privet hedges grow best in full sun and although they'll tolerate partial shade, plenty of sunshine will bring out the best foliage color.
4. American Holly
Another great alternative to a privacy fence is the American Holly. This evergreen plant produces dark-green leathery leaves with spikey spines that are accompanied by deep red berries in the winter. As Zeeshan says: 'It's a great option for those who want to add a touch of elegance to their backyard.'
This iconic shrub will quickly sprout up in your garden, too. 'It grows at a moderate pace, with an average growth rate of 1-2 feet per year, and can reach up to 50 feet tall,' notes Zeeshan. Just be wary of its spikey leaves. For more kid-friendly option, look out for varieties such as the inkberry holly which has no spines.
5. Eastern Red Cedar
The Eastern Red Cedar is another common site across many gardens, favored for its evergreen blue-toned spruce. Technically within the juniper family, the aromatic branches extend to the ground to protect the plant while also offering you extra privacy in your backyard.
'This is another great option if you're looking for something that's low maintenance,' says Zeeshan. 'The hardy plant can grow in a variety of soil types and requires very little water but it does also grow at a more moderate pace, with an average growth rate of 1-2 feet per year.'
Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without including the world's fastest-growing plant. Bamboo can grow at an astonishing rate, with some species even reaching growth rates of 1.5 inches an hour, although rates will be slower when used for hedging.
For a bushy appearance, look out for clumping varieties that form a dense privacy screen of canes and foliage that stays green all year round. It's really easy to maintain too, meaning gardeners love using this plant as a landscaping trick for extra privacy.
'Bamboo hedges will generally grow up to three feet per year and has a maximum height of around 70 feet,' Lina explains. 'It's dense foliage provides excellent privacy and can add a tropical and exotic feel to your backyard.'
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Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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