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If you feel like a bit of a goldfish when you’re in your backyard, on display for all the neighbors to see everything you do, you probably want to find a way to add some privacy to your yard. Plants are one of the best ways to add privacy. Plants are aesthetically pleasing; they also provide shade, dampen noise, reduce wind, and provide habitat for local wildlife. Adding plants for privacy in your yard is kind of a win for your neighbors, too, because it also gives them some privacy. 

When you want to add privacy to your yard with plants, think density.

Privacy isn’t just something that matters outside, though. There are also some plants you can use to create more privacy indoors. Whether you work in a goldfish style cubicle, or you just want to separate your work-from-home space from your living space, you can use houseplants to give you more privacy.

Here are 5 plants to add privacy to your yard and 5 plants to add privacy to your home or office.




Privacy Plants for Your Yard

When you want to add privacy to your yard with plants, think density. Choose plants that have dense foliage and branches. Avoid fast-growing plants; they grow fast and die fast and are often quite weak, taking on lots of damage during storms. They may give you privacy soon, but you’ll be replacing them before too long. Try to avoid invasive species like Bamboo; they’ll aggressively choke out native species and get out of control fast. You can layer up with things like ornamental grasses for added privacy while you wait for slower-growing trees to fill in.


1. Clematis: If you have a pergola, privacy fencing, lattice, or even chain link fence, you could grow a creeping vine-like Clematis. Clematis that blooms on old wood will give you more dense coverage over time, but more aged wood may be less attractive. Clematis that blooms on new wood can be cut back to the ground each year, but you’ll have to plant several plants to get the same coverage, and you won’t have privacy during the winter.


2. Green Giant Arborvitae is an excellent option for a dense evergreen tree. They do take a few years to fill in, though. In the meantime, you can layer with ornamental grass, planting a row of trees, then a row of grasses in front. Plant the row of trees so that the widest branches’ tips barely touch the next tree’s tips. Then, plant a row of ornamental grasses, like Feather Reed, a few feet in front. Space them so that they center between two trees. The grasses will grow tall faster and offer you the beginnings of privacy now while you wait for your denser trees or hedge plants to grow in.


3. Boxwood is a beautiful and dense broadleaf evergreen shrub. They grow into the perfect classic hedge, and they can be pruned to whatever shape you desire, like topiary. These shrubs boast a rich green color all year-round.


4. Ornamental grasses are a beautiful way to create temporary privacy and bring movement and sound to your yard. Taller ornamental grasses, like Miscanthus, stay quite narrow and grow quite tall, so they’re suitable for small spaces. Many ornamental grasses have beautiful seed heads that add visual interest and look nice throughout the winter. In spring, you’ll need to cut them back to allow new growth—so they’re not an all-season privacy solution.


5. Lilacs are easy to grow and make a lovely deciduous hedge that blooms and smells fantastic in the spring. Even when the leaves fall, the twigs are fairly dense together and still create somewhat of a privacy screen, albeit not entirely blocking views. 


A Warning About Bamboo:

Bamboo is often recommended for privacy because it is tall and grows fast. Unfortunately, this far north, it’s not a good idea. The types of Bamboo that are hardy enough to survive an Illinois winter are the running types that spread quickly by long rhizomes. These varieties are invasive and will very quickly get out of control and choke out native species, never mind annoy your neighbors by popping up in every single yard in your neighborhood!

If you want to grow Bamboo, it’s best to do it in containers with closed bottoms so it can’t spread.




Privacy Plants for Indoors

Whether you work in a goldfish-bowl cubicle or just want to separate your work-from-home space from your living space, you can use houseplants to add ambiance, block the view, and maybe even the chatter of your officemates. We can’t promise your canine or feline officemates will respect your green boundaries, though. 


1. Houseplants for large spaces: if you have lots of room, vertical and horizontal, you can use almost any large houseplant as a privacy screen. A row of Fiddle Leaf Figs, Ficus Benjaminas, Monsteras, Corn Plants, or Rubber Trees all can make for a great privacy screen.


2. Tall plants for small spaces: if your space is limited, you may want to go slimmer and taller. A row of Snake Plants, Bamboo, or ornamental grasses can give you a vertical privacy screen without taking up too much space. Ornamental grasses that grow in shady locations outdoors can often be grown indoors in containers, though they will do best near bright windows. Many shade-loving grasses require consistently moist soil, so don’t forget to water them regularly.


3. Spiky plants to ward off coworkers: If you prefer something a little less welcoming, Palms and Dracaenas do the trick. They’re still quite beautiful, but their spiky leaves are a little less appealing to brush past or peer through.


4. Short plants to block views: If you’d just like to add a few inches of height to the top of your cubicle wall to stop Staring Stanley in the next one over, a row of Peace Lilies on top of a shelf gives a good screen with its large leaves, and beautiful white flowers—the best part is they’re low light tolerant! Usually, they max out at about 1-2 feet tall, so they could add just the right height to your cubicle wall.


5. Vines to create a living wall: if you’d love to make a living divider wall to separate your workspace from your living space, a Pothos might be just the key. They’re tough and resilient, tolerate surprisingly low light, and you can train them onto a wall, a row of bamboo canes, trellises, or lattice to create a beautiful wall of green to hide work life from home life.


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