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How to Get a Living Privacy Fence

Privacy in our yards can be a major benefit. Not seeing the neighbors can keep easily distracted pets from roaming off. If you live in an area with smaller yards, lacking a privacy fence can mean becoming an uninvited near-guest to someone else’s family reunion. And sometimes you just want to feel like you’re more at home in your own space. But large privacy fences can get pricey and eventually require replacing. That’s assuming you can find a style you like. And you may live in an area that restricts what kind of fence you can have. That’s where a living privacy fence comes in.

To get a living privacy fence, you simply plan your landscape so that you can’t see the neighbors. You might plant strategic shrubbery or even have full trees at the edge of the property.

This option can get a little pricey, however. It can also take a few weeks to plan, acquire and plant the living fence. You may have to hire a landscaper to assist you. It also might take anywhere from a few months to years for the plants to reach full maturity and give the type of coverage you’re after. But if you want a natural way to add some lush privacy to your yard, a living privacy fence will be worth the investment.

Living Privacy Fence Full Style

Trimmed shrubs are a classic option for full privacy. Image: romakoma/Shutterstock

Decide Just How Much Privacy You Need

You’ll want to start by planning what you want out of a privacy fence. And the first aspect to look at is the level of privacy you need. Do you want complete coverage or is something you can still sort of see through okay? That will determine the type of plants you use and their spacing. Some plants only grow four feet tall, while others can go far higher.

Also, remember to check with city ordinances. Some have rules about how much you can obscure a yard. You’ll need to plan your plant coverage around any of these restrictions.

You’ll also want to assess how much of the yard you are looking to block. Do you want a privacy fence that extends the full perimeter of the yard? Or is only one direction where you currently have the least privacy acceptable? For instance, a full yard living privacy fence could be best accomplished with thick shrubbery, while partial privacy could just require one larger tree.

Living Privacy Fence Tree Style

Individual evergreen trees are just one option for a living privacy fence. Image: romakoma/Shutterstock

Types of Privacy Fences

To start, there are many different types of plants you can use to get a landscape design that affords maximum privacy. These privacy plants include:

  • Hedges, like privet or yew
  • Flowering evergreen shrubs, like pyracantha or holly
  • Bamboo
  • Evergreen trees like cedar, juniper or arborvitae
  • Flowering, full bushes, like enkianthus or lilac
  • Cactus
  • Living walls

You can plant these to have either full privacy or partial, depending on spacing.

Living Privacy Fence Partial Style

A partial fence and plant design can make a good artistic element in a yard. Image: rudolfgeiger/Shutterstock

Factor the Living Privacy Fence into Your Yard’s Style

You should also keep in mind how those plants will fit in with the style you are going for in your yard. For instance, well-trimmed hedges work best for yards that have a classic and neat appearance. Flower hedges work well with larger romantic garden spaces. Trees can offer a good option for more rustic yards that keep things on the natural side. You might even look into partial designs that can work for conceptual and artistic spaces, such as placing unconnected panels of fence alongside patches of evergreen trees. You can see an example in the photo above.

And remember to take into account the level of upkeep the living privacy fence will require. Though all living fences will need some upkeep, options like shrubbery will need regular trimming to maintain a clean look. If you’re not willing to spend a lot of time with your yard, you might choose options that don’t require regular trimming sesons, like willow trees or cactus.

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