10 Living Fence Ideas to Enhance Your Backyard Privacy Beautifully

Rachel Lark - November 12, 2022

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Robert Frost once wrote that good fences make good neighbors. If you’ve spent more time at home during the pandemic, you might crave a bit more privacy from surrounding homes. However, you don’t have to go with traditional wood or stone to build fences. You can decrease your carbon footprint by planting growing things that create a natural barrier that’s often more impenetrable than a gate. Here are ten living fence ideas to enhance your backyard beautifully. 

1. Bamboo

Bamboo is an increasingly popular renewable resource. The same feature that makes it so attractive for use in interior flooring also makes it an ideal living fence. This plant is the fastest growing one on earth, with some species increasing a full meter in height in one day. 

This plant is also one of the least messy ones out there, demanding little maintenance besides keeping it from growing out of control. Please avoid raking up any fallen leaves — these help keep the roots moist and protected. Bamboo loves water and full sunshine, making it ideal for lining the periphery of a sunny, secluded yoga garden. 

2. Juniper 

There’s more to juniper than berries for making gin. This plant has long seen use in gardens, even creating hedge mazes, like in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of “The Shining.” Best of all, most species reach only five to ten feet in height, making them perfect for creating privacy without blocking the view from your upstairs windows. 

One of the features of this plant is its hardiness. It tolerates wind, cold and poor soils. Additionally, it can tolerate some shade, although it does best in the sun. 

3. Cactus 

If you live in the desert southwest and want privacy and protection, look to the native flora. Many species of cactus can make excellent living fences. Their spiny barbs deter any thieves looking to climb in an open window. 

What are the best species? Cholla can grow up to 15 feet, although many species are around six to eight feet in height. Prickly pear is another popular choice, being short and spreading. Additionally, their fruit makes an excellent jam or jelly that can help lower your blood sugar

4. Cypress

Cypress is an elegant, tall, skinny tree that can make a dramatic entryway lining your driveway. It can also provide the ultimate privacy from your neighbors. These conifers grow to a height of 60 to 70 feet, protecting even your second-story windows from prying eyes. 

Cypress prefer acidic soils. If you notice the leaves getting yellow, it could be iron chlorosis. Although treatments help, they are temporary. Therefore, it pays to have a soil test done before selecting this living fence. 

5. Hicksii Yew 

Hicksii yew is a bright evergreen shrub that is ideal if you want a slower-growing fence. It adds only about a foot of height a year. 

However, this plant is remarkably versatile, growing in full sun or shade. It can grow up to 12 feet high and is narrow, making it ideal for small spaces. 

6. Holly 

If you want the security of somewhat sharp edges protecting your home, but you live in a northern climate, holly could be a good bet. This plant features sharp leaves that aren’t quite as penetrating as cactus spines or rose thorns but still enough to deter a thief. 

This plant also comes in handy when holiday decorating time rolls around. You can gather a few springs to make centerpieces and place settings. 

8. Rugosa Rose

If you think roses are too prone to disease to make a suitable fence, think again. The rugosa species is remarkably resistant, making it one of the most beautiful and fragrant living fence ideas. 

It grows four to six feet high and wide, with numerous sharp thorns to deter anyone seeking to climb in an open window. If you let the flowers wilt instead of trimming them, you’ll be rewarded with healthy hips for jams and jellies. These have nutritional properties, including a hefty dose of vitamin C for immune health. 

9. Burning Bush

If you want to add color and fragrance without sharp edges, burning bush makes an excellent choice. Its crimson leaves add a splash of brightness to your front or backyard decor. 

This plant can get up to eight feet high and grows quickly. It also spreads aggressively, requiring you to use care to avoid letting it get out of control. 

10. Lilac

Lilac is another excellent living fence idea for those seeking privacy and a bit of fragrance. You can snip the blooms from this plant and dry them to make fragrant sachets for your dressers and closets. 

This shrub grows well in multiple climate zones. They can grow up to 15 feet tall, although you can keep them trimmed shorter. 

Living Fence Ideas to Enhance Your Backyard Privacy Beautifully

You could opt for chain link, wood or stone for privacy. However, few things enhance the beauty of your landscape like the right plants. Instead, why not opt for one of these living fence ideas? You’ll decrease your carbon footprint by growing living things and enjoying the secure, intimate backyard of your dreams. 

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.