17 Fast-Growing Shrubs for Privacy

privacy hedges

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Shrubs for privacy should be fast-growing to help you quickly turn your property into a retreat. A privacy hedge doesn't have to be any taller than 6 feet (in most cases). If you are impatient for some seclusion, look for shrubs and bushes that have a fast growth rate of between 2 to 3 feet per year. Here are 17 top choices for fast-growing privacy shrubs.


An annual or semi-annual pruning is key to shaping fast-growing plants into a hedge. Many of these prodigious growers can quickly get out of hand if you neglect to prune them regularly. Be sure to prune for height as well as width and overall shape.

  • 01 of 17

    Red Twig Dogwood

    Redtwig Dogwood


    Mark Turner / Getty Images

    Even in the winter, the red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) still stands out as a handsome privacy hedge though its leaves, berries, and flowers have disappeared. Despite having lost so many features, red twig dogwood may be at its best when nothing blocks the view of its finest feature: its signature fire-red bark color (the same applies to yellow twig dogwood but in a different color). Looking at such a plant can lift your spirits on the gloomiest of winter days. It can be a fast-growing shrub adding 2 feet of height annually.

    • Name: Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, fertile, moist soil
    • Mature Size: 6–9 feet tall, 8–12 feet wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 02 of 17

    Mock Orange

    Philadelphus coronarius (sweet mock-orange, English dogwood) white flowers
    aga7ta / Getty Images

    Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) is a wonderfully fragrant shrub with a strange name. Mock orange is not a true orange. But the citrusy smell of its white blossoms is enough to invite comparison. You'll see this shrub grow about 2 feet annually. Another white-flowered option is doublefile viburnum

    • Name: Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, loamy soil
    • Mature Size: 10–12 ft. tall and wide
    • Deer Resistant: Most of the time
  • 03 of 17

    Common Lilac

    Blossoming lilac
    vav63 / Getty Images

    Like mock orange, the traditional and common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is an olfactory treasure with fragrant flowers. There are plenty of new cultivars available. They will grow about 2 feet a year and make a spectacular privacy bush when in full bloom in the springtime.

    • Name: Common lilac bushes (Syringa vulgaris)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy soil
    • Mature Size: 8–15 ft. tall, 6–12 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 04 of 17


    Close-Up Of Yellow Flowering Plant
    Olga Strogonova / EyeEm / Getty Images

    There should be a special place in your heart for forsythia bushes. When their flower buds start yellowing up, forsythia flowers herald nothing less than spring, itself. Among the bushes, they are some of the earliest spring flowers and make beautiful and wild yellow "walls" of privacy, growing at about 2 feet annually.

    • Name: Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
    • Mature Size: 2–10 ft. tall, 2–10 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Most of the time
    Continue to 5 of 17 below.
  • 05 of 17


    Cotoneaster bush with small red berries and glossy green leaves
    IB_photo / Getty Images

    The branching of rock cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) is stiff and dense, giving the plant a rather bristly look. Stems shoot off the branches in what is often referred to as a "herringbone pattern," a term also used in hardscaping. The bristly look is significantly softened once the red berries appear, as your attention will be drawn to their fleshy orbs. The berries of cotoneasters are toxic to humans and animals, although birds do fine with them.

    Cotoneaster is a fast-grower at 2 feet annually. For a taller cotoneaster privacy hedge, go with one of the taller types, such as C. lucidus, which grows 6 to 10 feet high and wide (grow it in zones 3 to 7).

    • Name: Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 7
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained, evenly moist
    • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall; 6-8 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 06 of 17


    beautyberry tree or American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) transition of unripe green to ripe purple or Beautyberry Shrub with Purple berries
    nitimongkolchai / Getty Images

    Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is such a fast-growing bush at 2 feet annually that many recommend pruning it down to within a foot or so of the ground in early spring. The resulting new growth, laden with berries by autumn, is sufficiently large to make for a compelling display and privacy hedge. 

    • Name: Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6 to 10
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 3–6 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Some of the time
  • 07 of 17

    Common Ninebark

    Physocarpus opulifolius diabolo or ninebark foliage with white flowers
    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    Even though common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) was named for its bark, it is not in quite the same class as red twig dogwood. The Diablo cultivar especially offers something beyond an interesting bark: Dark foliage that makes it one of the so-called "black" plants. Diablo has a mature size of 8 to 10 feet tall with burgundy foliage. But the best part is that all ninebarks are such fast-growing shrubs they may reach their mature height in one year.

    • Name: Common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Clay or loamy soil
    • Mature Size: 3-10 ft. tall, 3-8 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 08 of 17

    Pussy Willow

    Many branches of flowering spring willow
    Sviatlana Lazarenka / Getty Images

    Forsythia may be one of the earliest heralds of spring, but it's not as early as pussy willow (Salix discolor), which displays its characteristic fuzzy white catkins even before the arrival of forsythia's yellow blooms. Pussy willows are extremely fast growers and can potentially add 4 to 6 feet of height a year. You can also try another willow shrub that grows quickly, the Flamingo Japanese willow

    • Name: Pussy willow (Salix discolor)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 6–25 ft. tall, 4–15 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: No
    Continue to 9 of 17 below.
  • 09 of 17


    Green Chinese Fringe Flowe backgrund
    Supersmario / Getty Images

    Loropetalum, also called Chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense), is an evergreen, multi-stemmed shrub well-known for its delicate, fragrant, and frilly blooms. It has a fast growth rate of 2 feet annually.

    • Name: Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained, loamy, acidic soil
    • Mature Size: 6 ft. to 10 ft. tall, 6 ft. to 10 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 10 of 17


    MariuszBlach / Getty Images

    There are many kinds of evergreen arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) that are used in hedges (including the relatively small 'North Pole'), and they do not all exhibit the same rate of growth. Therefore, not all arborvitaes are equally suited for use in privacy hedges. A good choice for large privacy hedges is the fast grower 'Green Giant', which can reach 50 to 60 feet tall (with a spread of 12 to 20 feet). If you want a bush that is more compact and you do not mind waiting a bit longer, 'Emerald Green' arborvitae is a better option. The latter usually reaches just 12 to 14 feet tall, with a spread of 3 to 4 feet. Its foliage comes in flat sprays and, if you look closely, the needles appear covered in scales. 

    • Name: Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, loamy
    • Mature Size: 12–60 ft. tall, 4–12 ft. wide, depending on type
    • Deer Resistant: No
  • 11 of 17


    Taxus baccata European yew is conifer shrub with poisonous and bitter red ripened berry fruits
    Iva Vagnerova / Getty Images

    One advantage that yews (Taxus) have over many similar evergreens is that these shade-tolerant plants will thrive in north-facing foundation plantings, no matter how sunlight-deprived. Yet they can be grown in full sun, too. Yew is a slower-growing hedge, however, so expect only a foot a year. If you have small children, keep them away from the shrubs: All parts are toxic to humans and animals.

    • Name: Yew (Taxus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 10
    • Light: Full, partial, shade, depending on type
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
    • Mature Size: 4-60 ft. tall, 4-20 ft. wide, depending on the variety
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 12 of 17

    Canadian Hemlock

    Green Foliage of the Evergreen Coniferous Weeping Eastern Hemlock Shrub (Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula') in a Park
    pcturner71 / Getty Images

    The Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is not the plant that famously killed the Greek philosopher Socrates. This tree is completely safe. Moreover, whether you think of hemlock as a tree or shrub may well depend on where you live. If you dwell in a rural area of North America, you probably know the hemlock as a towering tree. But some of the finest privacy hedges around the country are composed of scaled-down Canadian, or Eastern, hemlocks. These somewhat fast-growing and cold-hardy shrubs, or trees, grow 2 feet a year and form dense privacy walls.

    • Name: Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7
    • Light: Part sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist
    • Mature Size: 70 ft. tall, 25-35 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
    Continue to 13 of 17 below.
  • 13 of 17

    Burning Bush

    Leaves of burning bush shrub starting to turn fall color.

    Barry Winiker / Stockbyte / Getty Images

    Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) may be the poster child for invasive shrubs in North America. It is a fast grower at 2 feet annually with a terrific fall color that ranges from red to pinkish-red. Burning bush also produces reddish-orange berries in fall. Just be aware that this is an invasive shrub and should be planted with care.

    • Name: Burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy soil
    • Mature Size: 3-20 ft. tall, 3-12 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 14 of 17


    fence with shrubs
    Garden fence with leylandii (Cupressocyparis leylandii) hedge. Stephen Shepherd/Getty Images

    Also known as leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii or Cupressocyparis leylandii), leylandii is a hybrid of Alaskan cedar and Monterey cypress. It is an aggressive grower, capable of growing up to 3 feet per year, and it gets a bad reputation for being difficult to handle. However, if you keep up with annual or semi-annual pruning, leylandii makes an excellent privacy hedge or windbreak. Leyland cypress may be slightly toxic to grazing animals.

    • Name: Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii or Cupressocyparis leylandii)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6 to 10
    • Light: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Clay, loamy, sandy
    • Mature Size: 60–70 ft. tall; 10—15 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Most of the time
  • 15 of 17

    Amur Maple

    Branch of Acer ginnala
    Elena Odareeva / Getty Images

    Like most maples, the amur maple (Acer ginnala) is prized for its brilliant fall color, but it's also a fast-growing shrub that makes a great privacy hedge as well as a winter windbreak. The most popular cultivar for hedges is 'Flame', which grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. It can grow up to 2 feet per year and needs only annual pruning to keep its shape.

    • Name: Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Clay or loamy to sandy, well-drained soil
    • Mature Size: 15-18 ft. tall, 15-18 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
  • 16 of 17

    Cherry Laurel

    Cherry laurel in bloom.
    Martin Siepmann/Getty Images

    Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), also commonly called English laurel, is a good option for those in relatively warm climates, as it's hardy only to zones 6 to 8. In ideal conditions, it can grow up to 3 feet per year. Its glossy green leaves are evergreen and do not change color in fall. Creamy white flowering clusters bloom in spring.

    • Name: Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
    • Mature Size: Up to 25 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Yes
    Continue to 17 of 17 below.
  • 17 of 17


    privet flowering plant
    Nenov / Getty Images

    Privet (Ligustrum spp.) is the quintessential (or at least the most familiar) privacy hedge plant. It is a fast-growing shrub at 2 feet a year, prunes nicely, and has flowers that lead to fruit clusters that last through the winter. While Ligustrum vulgare was once the most common type of privet planted, it has lost popularity to some of the more ornamental varieties, such as Japanese privet (L. japonicum). The fruits and leaves of privet are toxic to humans and pets.

    • Name: Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 10
    • Light: Full sun to part sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich soil
    • Mature Size: 4–15 ft. tall, 4–10 ft. wide
    • Deer Resistant: Most of the time
  • Which evergreen is the fastest to grow?

    Leyland cypress (× Cuprocyparis leylandii) is one of the fastest-growing evergreen conifers, growing 3 to 5 feet per year. 

  • Which privacy shrub gets the tallest?

    One of the tallest shrubs is arborvitae (Thuja) which can grow up to 50 to 60 feet tall, particularly the 'Green Giant' cultivar. These plants naturally have a pyramidal shape and wider spread but can be trimmed and shaped however you like.

  • How often do you prune a hedge shrub?

    Once your plant has been established, usually within two years, you'll likely want to regularly trim your hedges every six to eight weeks during the growing season to help them keep their shape. If the plant is a spring-flowering shrub, wait until after its bloom period to trim it. If it flowers in summer, it's safe to give it a trim in winter or spring.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Poisonous Berries. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

  2. Red berries at this time of year. Veterinary Poisons Information Service.

  3. Plant Toolbox Taxus. North Carolina State University Extension.

  4. Yew. ASPCA.

  5. Tsuga canadensis. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  6. Landscaping for horses requires thoughtful planning. Oklahoma State University.

  7. Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. University of California.

  8. Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Common PrivetASPCA.