You may have a passion for making your yard the envy of the neighborhood, but there are some areas of your property you want to keep private. While solid fences are popular for providing a visual barrier so you can enjoy your backyard without observation by neighbors, they’re expensive to build (and require a building permit to do so legally), and need to be cleaned on a regular basis — although we at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing can definitely take care of that! Opting for a privacy hedge instead can deliver most of the advantages of a solid fence — plus a few others!
However, success depends upon knowing which shrub to choose for the area to achieve the desired height and thickness, as well as the requirements of the species for sun exposure and soil type. Our blog post — “The Best Shrubs For Your Central Florida Yard” — covers the basics about Florida-friendly shrubs as an introduction.
But first, a caveat. If you live in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), there may be a restriction on the maximum height of shrubbery allowed and/or physical barriers between properties. Check your HOA’s rules and regulations before planning a privacy hedge.
What are the Advantages of a Privacy Hedge?
According to the wise words of poet Robert Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors.” A good privacy hedge envelops your yard in natural greenery — unlike a wood or vinyl fence — while creating a secluded, park-like area for relaxing and entertaining.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, a privacy hedge can also act as a backdrop for other plants, or seating — such as patio chairs. Just be sure that whatever you plant or set in front of it (if it’s heavy, like a concrete bench) is far away enough to allow access to trim the hedge.
Plant Professionals offers the following additional benefits of having a privacy hedge:
Reduces noise – Dense shrubbery can dampen sound – such as traffic and the next-door neighbor’s activity — without totally removing you from nature. It also does likewise for sounds coming from your yard, which keeps your conversations more private.
Adds curb appeal – A privacy hedge creates a more upscale impression of your property, enhances the overall appearance of the neighborhood and could even increase the property value if you decide to sell your home.
Creates wind resistance – A healthy, densely planted hedge can help absorb strong wind gusts, preventing objects in your yard from being blown about (and potentially causing damage to outdoor furniture, small out structures and windows). However, take the usual precautions during hurricane season.
Provides shade – Tall shrubberies can prevent full sun from entering your yard at certain times of day, providing some shade and absorbing heat to keep your patio and yard cooler. While this can be a plus, make sure that nearby plants are shade-tolerant. Those requiring full sun may need to be transplanted elsewhere on your property.
Best Plants to Grow for Privacy
Now for the good part — recommendations about the best plants to grow for privacy in Central Florida! Listing here does not necessarily mean endorsement. While they are all good, hardy shrubs, not all may be equally suitable for how you use your yard or may require more maintenance than you’re able or willing to provide. Remember, you’ll be dealing with several shrubs planted closely together, rather than one or two! Do your research carefully if you’re not working with a professional landscaper who can recommend hedge shrubs based upon the characteristics of your property, desired use(s) of your yard and your lifestyle.
Florida Gardening offers the following list of Florida-friendly hedge shrubs:
Bamboo – In a frost-free zone, bamboo makes a perfect screen for your landscape. There are two types of bamboo — running and clumping. Of the two, clumping is easier to maintain, does best in full to partial sun and won’t grow aggressively out of bounds. The color and heights of stalks can vary, allowing for a little pop of color to your landscape design. Alphonse Karr (Bambusa multiplex) has a golden yellow cane and can grow to 30 feet tall, while black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) offers black canes and grows about 20-25 feet tall.
Bay laurel – For those who enjoy the added benefit of growing their own culinary herbs, bay laurel is the perfect shrub for your privacy hedge. They average about 12 feet tall and grow thick, leathery leaves that produce a light scent. Bay laurel grows best in full sun to shade with consistent watering and well-drained soil.
Bottlebrush – Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.) is a must-have for those wanting a colorful and larger shrub that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds in Central and South Florida. The evergreen produces intense red flower spikes, blooming spring through fall adding color to the landscape almost year-round. Gardeners have choices in an upright and weeping variety that produces the same colorful blooms, and the upright form grows up to 20 feet tall and wide — making it suitable for use as a hedge or screening plant. It grows best in full sun and in a variety of well-drained soils.
Clusia – Clusia is both drought- and salt-resistant with dense foliage. It also adds a tropical feel to any landscape with its thick, green, oval leaves. This shrub grows 25-30 feet tall and spreads 15-25 feet and produces 3-inch white and pink flowers that bloom at night during the summer. This shrub is great for a hedge or to use as a screen, as it grows well in full sun to partial shade and in well-drained soil.
English laurel – This shrub is perfect for more traditional hedges because it is easy to prune and maintain. It grows best in zones 6-9, tolerates salt spray, requires full to partial sun, and grows 12 feet high 8 feet wide with regular waterings.
Sea grape – This tropical and robust shrub is salt, drought, and wind-tolerant and offers a surprise bonus fruit! This native evergreen is identifiable by its 8-inch diameter and leathery, green leaves that turn red in the winter. This shrub grows up to 50 feet tall and spreads out 20-30 feet wide. These hardy shrubs grow in full sun to partial shade with a variety of well-drained soils.
Tips for Planting a Privacy Hedge
It’s not always easy to get things to go right the first time, so we thought this helpful article from Monrovia that provides need-to-know tips will help ensure your shrubs thrive to create a thick, healthy privacy hedge.
- First, identify your goals. Lots of privacy? Blocking out an eyesore? Windscreen? This will help you to choose the right size and habit (overall shape, appearance and form).
- Decide on the style of hedge you want. Some plants have a tight, formal look while others are looser and less formal.
- Read and believe the information on the tag about eventual mature height and width!
- Plant shrubs a bit closer for a hedge than you would for a single specimen, but be careful not to crowd. Ask your local garden center for advice regarding your specific plant if you’re doing it yourself.
- While waiting for plants to develop, fill gaps between them with perennials or ornamental grasses. You can move them later!
- Plant an extra few shrubs elsewhere on the property so that if something goes wrong with the hedge, you have a replacement that’s the same size and type.
Should You Do It Yourself, or Hire a Professional Landscaping Service?
Avid gardeners may welcome the challenge of planning and planting a privacy hedge. Just ask yourself this question: How soon do you want the hedge to effectively block the view into your yard? Installing shrubs that are more mature means transporting several large shrubs, moving them to their position, digging holes, planting them, etc. Not everyone has the time, suitable vehicle for transportation or physical strength to take the DIY route. And if you want to create privacy immediately — or soon — waiting for young shrubs to grow to the desired height and fullness isn’t practical.
As you’ve learned, planting a privacy hedge is much more labor-intensive than planting ornamental shrubs as accents. Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing is a full-service landscaping company that does it all — from planning the perfect privacy hedge to plant installation, maintenance and trimming. We leave nothing to chance, and leave you with nothing to do but water your hedge and enjoy your yard in peace, quiet and privacy!
Now a few words about trimming before we conclude. Keeping your privacy hedge well-trimmed should be a priority — not only because its appearance affects the attractiveness of your property, but because it also affects the attractiveness of your next-door neighbor’s property. A hedge that’s allowed to become overgrown and unkempt could cause ill feelings in a neighbor who maintains a neat, tidy yard!
We recommend leaving trimming to the pros, as well. Trimming a tall privacy hedge requires the right equipment and physical stamina. If it’s tall enough to require a ladder to reach the top, you need a sturdy ladder made for the task, and the proper protective clothing — no flip-flops! You may not be eager to perform this strenuous, lengthy job during a Florida summer, as well.
Whether you want the benefits of a privacy shrub or other landscaping improvement, our experienced team can work with you to achieve your goals and bring your vision to life! We also provide tree installation, tree trimming, yard maintenance, pressure washing and so much more. Contact us today!