The best fast-growing privacy plants — gardening pros say these 7 shrubs will add shade and seclusion

Gardening experts share the best fast-growing privacy plants

The best fast-growing privacy plants are useful to know. Here are three of these - a privet bush with green leaves and small white flowers, a holly bush with dark green spiky leaves and red berries, and cherry laurel plants with long white flowers
(Image credit: Getty Images / Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo / Elizabeth Fernandez / Sharon Talson)

You'll find it useful to find out the best fast-growing privacy plants if you want to keep prying eyes out of your backyard in an aesthetically pleasing, natural way.

We've asked gardening pros what the best plants are, why they're great choices, and how to grow them. From chic Leyland cypress to low-maintenance wax myrtle, there are lots of leafy options that will match your place's look.

For those searching for backyard privacy ideas that are softer and more stylish than harsh fences, privacy plants are a brilliant option.

The best fast-growing privacy plants, according to gardening pros

Whether you're looking for natural privacy screen ideas or are searching for fence ideas that don't require harsh materials, these fast-growing privacy plants are worth keeping in mind.

Where our experts have recommended specific shrubs or maintenance products, we have shopped these wherever possible.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Leyland cypress

A green bush made from leyland cypress trees, with trees behind it and light brown spiked grass below it

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you know you’re going to be switching up your backyard ideas, Leyland cypress is a versatile, classic choice that will go with a range of styles.

“Leyland cypress is a cross between an Alaskan cedar and Monterrey cypress. It is a popular choice for privacy hedges because it can grow up to 3 feet per year and is, for the most part, deer resistant,” explains Amy Enfield, Ph.D., senior horticulturist at ScottsMiracle-Gro.

“While Leyland cypress tolerates a range of soils, prioritize putting it in well-drained conditions ensuring that you water regularly, especially during the first few years to establish roots,” she adds.

If you want to get started on bringing this in, the Flowerland Leyland Cypress from Walmart is a fantastic option as it grows 3-5 feet per year, can easily be trimmed, and is even more impressive once it matures.

Once established, Amy says they are fairly drought tolerant and only require pruning once or twice a year to maintain the desired shape and height.

2. Privet

A close-up shot of a privet bush with green leaves and small white flowers blooming from it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo)

Bring together front yard privacy ideas and cottagecore design in your garden with this pretty flowering fast-growing privacy plant.

“Privet is a fast-growing hedge plant, capable of growing up to 2-3 feet per year. It’s great for formal hedges,” Amy explains.

She says it’s hardy in zones 4-10, produces small, white fragrant flowers, and is, for the most part, deer, pest, and disease-resistant.

“While privet is adaptable to various soil types, it prefers well-drained soil. They should be watered regularly until established and should be pruned regularly to maintain shape and encourage bushier growth,” she explains.

This is easy to start growing too, such as with the Flowerwood Wavy Leaf Privet Shrub from Walmart that has a lush texture, can be used for landscaping, and is a low-maintenance beauty.

3. Bamboo

A close-up shot of dark green bamboo plants with spiked leaves and dark brown stems

(Image credit: Getty Images / Ravinder Kumar)

Fast-growing privacy plants such as bamboo can add a relaxing, zen vibe to your backyard.

“This is a fantastic option for those needing a quick privacy screen. It grows rapidly, reaching full height within a few years,” explains Tommy Mello, home and backyard improvement expert and founder of A1 Garage Door Service.

To avoid invasive growth, Tommy recommends choosing clumping varieties like fargesia or bambusa (the CZ Grain Bambusa Bamboo Seeds from Walmart can be grown at home and come from a nursery in Iowa). 

“Plant bamboo in well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight. Regular watering and occasional fertilization during the growing season will promote healthy, lush growth,” he adds.

4. Holly

A dark green holly bush with dark green spiked leaves and bright red berries growing from it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Elizabeth Fernandez)

Even when it isn’t the festive period, holly bushes offer a beautiful option for fast-growing privacy plant ideas.

“Holly bushes offer both privacy and visual appeal with their glossy leaves and bright berries,” explains Tommy.

He recommends choosing Nellie Stevens holly, as this grows quickly and densely. For example, the Expert Gardener Holly Nellie R. Stevens from Walmart is a gorgeous choice, as it produces white flowers in spring and berries in fall. Just be sure to plan this in well-drained soil, facing full to partial sunlight. 

“Regular watering and occasional fertilization will ensure healthy growth. Holly bushes can create a beautiful, natural barrier that enhances your landscape,” he adds.

5. Cherry laurel

A cluster of cherry laurel plants with long white flowers and curved dark green leaves next to a dark green lawn

(Image credit: Getty Images / Sharon Talson)

If you live in warmer climates (zones 6-9), Amy says cherry laurel is a great option for a fast-establishing privacy hedge. 

“It can grow up to three feet per year, topping out at over 20 feet tall. It also has glossy, evergreen leaves and will produce white flowers in spring,” she explains. “It is also a great option if you are looking to establish a hedge in a shaded area.”

This plant can be a little expensive, but if you love the idea of cherry laurels, the Brighter Blooms Cherry Laurel from Walmart can withstand challenging environments, has a sweet fragrance, and comes with free delivery.

Amy continues, “For best growth, it needs to be kept well-fed and watered frequently enough that the soil stays moist, but not soggy.”

She recommends pruning annually in late spring/early summer after they’re done flowering, to maintain overall shape.

6. Green giant arborvitae

A close-up shot of a lime green arborvitae bush with small spikes around the leaves

(Image credit: Getty Images / Marcia Straub)

For those looking to go big with their fast-growing privacy plants, arborvitae is an amazing option.

“Arborvitae, in general, makes a good privacy fence, but for fast-growing variety, look for ‘Green Giant’. Green Giant can grow 3-5 feet per year ultimately reaching a height of 50-60 feet and spread of 12-20 feet, creating a dense, tall privacy screen,” Amy explains.

After this has been established and has developed a good root system, Amy says Green Giant is very drought tolerant — however, it will require regular, deep waterings until then.

Want to go for this large, lovely shrub? The Expert Gardener Green Giant Arborvitae from Walmart is resistant to wind, can be planted in containers, and has a 90-day return policy

She adds, “It should be planted in full sun, but it will also tolerate some shade. It also grows best when planted in well-drained, loamy soil.”

7. Wax myrtle

A wax myrtle shrub with light green leaves and gray berries woven around a brown branch in the middle of the bush

(Image credit: Walmart)

If you’re located in a wonderfully warmer part of the country (zones 7-10), wax myrtle works brilliantly as a privacy hedge.

“It’s evergreen with dense foliage, plus can grow up to five feet in a growing season,” Amy explains. 

She continues, “It’s also a low-maintenance shrub once established — drought, heat, and salt tolerant, plus resistant to insects and diseases.

Amy recommends planting wax myrtle in full to part sun, saying it will grow in just about any type of soil, including sand. You can do this from seed, such as with the Bayarde Services Wax Myrtle from Walmart which comes with 25 seeds to help you get started.

 “They can be pruned in late winter, if desired, to maintain shape, but regular pruning is usually not required,” she adds.

Shop fast-growing privacy plants essentials

Once you've found the perfect fast-growing privacy plants for you, these buys will help you grow and maintain them.

By carefully selecting and nurturing fast-growing privacy plants, you can create a beautiful and secluded outdoor space.

“Whether you’re looking to block out noise, create a visual barrier, or simply enjoy a private retreat, these plants offer a variety of options to suit your needs,” Tommy finishes by saying.

If you have a large backyard and want to go even bigger and better, you might also like to find out about the privacy trees that will provide plenty of shade.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.