Plants for Screening and Privacy


Plants have always been used to create shelter, offer privacy or screen out unwanted views, define boundaries and divide the space within.

Our most popular plants used for Screening are:

  • Standard trees
  • Pleached trees
  • Living screens
  • Bamboo
  • Hedges

The most appropriate choice will depend on each individual situation.  Before looking at more detailed options and preferences therefore, it’s important to decide what you need your plants to do.

The key questions to ask when considering suitable options;

  • Evergreen or deciduous?  (Do you need privacy all year or just in the warmer months?)
  • Which are the main views/ locations that require screening?
  • How big would the plant need to be now?
  • How long would I be happy to wait for complete privacy?
  • What is the ultimate plant size required?
  • What access is available into the garden?
  • What is the aspect of the area and soil conditions?
  • What are my other plant preferences such as shape and colour?  
  • Do I have a particular plant budget?

Once these points are decided you can consider other factors such as:

  • Suitability to aspect
  • Leaf form and texture
  • Flower and scent
  • Wildlife friendly
  • Preferred season of interest

Below we have summarised the most popular options to consider and a visit to the nursery to view these is a great place to start.  Our plant advisers are particularly experienced in recommending hedging and screening solutions and can offer all the relevant advice and guidance to help you choose. If you prefer we also offer an ‘At Home’ Consultancy Service where we come to you.

Screening Options:

Standard trees. 
With a 1.8 to 2m high clear stem this option fits just above a 6ft fence panel, allowing room for under planting where space is limited. The perfect solution for small gardens.   If you only require privacy in the warmer months when the leaves are on the trees we can recommend suitable deciduous trees that will provide privacy as well as added interest with blossom, fruit and foliage as they change with the seasons. 

If screening is required all year, we have several evergreen ‘trees’ available in this format.  They can be clipped to control the size and are a rounder, less formal option than the increasingly popular Pleached trees mentioned below.

Pleached Trees. 
With a clear stem, pleached tree heads are trained on a trellis to help maintain a more formal rectangular shape.  Shorter stems are sometimes available too.

Traditionally used to create avenue walks and divide space in larger gardens, pleached trees can also provide an instant ‘hedge on stilts’ when planted in a row.  Perfect for creating privacy along boundaries in smaller gardens, leaving space for attractive planting underneath.

Hedging. 
Hedges are a great option for defining boundaries and are often used to hide ugly boundaries, create windbreaks and ‘garden rooms’ within larger spaces.   They can also be used creatively to provide an attractive foil for plants and structure amongst planting beds.

The ‘official’ hedging season runs from November to March when more cost effective bare-root and root-balled hedging**plants are available. However, we do stock hedging plants in containers all year round, from small box hedging up to mature hedging plants of 3m+ tall for a more instant effect.  If you can’t wait for the gaps of a newly planted hedge to fill in, ask about our hedging options in troughs for a completely instant hedge.

Living Screens.
Essentially these are shrubs trained against trellis and provide an instant solution to hide ugly boundaries and define areas within the garden.  Available in various sizes from 1.5 up to 3 meters high they can be kept tightly clipped.  Ideal for softening and extending the height of your fence in one go or providing a consistent backdrop to a garden feature.

Bamboo. 
One of the most cost effective solutions for evergreen screening and the perfect way to add instant height, sound, and movement to your garden.  Bamboo is one of our most popular screening plants and we always have a fresh selection in varying heights to choose from.  Visit the nursery and we’ll advise the best bamboo for your situation.

For further advice and ideas visit or contact The Big Plant Nursery for inspiration and ask about our ‘At Home’ Consultancy Service  if you are not sure where to start.