So you are wanting to make some kind of privacy hedge, but you have no idea where to start or maybe you see many options but are not sure which to pick. In this article I will go over plants that I have experience with so I can give a real life look on them for you, hows that sound? All of these plants I’m going to mention are cold hardy to the zone I live in of course and will hold their foliage year round unless stated otherwise!
Now, as the title of this page is “best evergreen hedge options” I will only be going over evergreen options of course. Sure, there are many hedge options out there, but not only do I like plants that stay green or have color all year long, but I think evergreen hedges are the best because they will give you the privacy you want hear round! Just make sure the evergreen you choose are cold hardy to your area.
Emerald Green Arborvitae
The emerald green arborvitae is probably one of the most popular evergreens that can be easily used for a somewhat tall edge. These are typically great to be grown under power lines (depending on the power line height of course but talking about average height power lines 20′ or so high). The main down fall for these arborvitaes are that they grow pretty dang slow, in fact some of the fastest growth you will see on these per year is about 12″ but anywhere between 6″ and 12″ per year is very normal. They do about 12′ or so tall when mature and about 3′ wide. If you want a solid green hedge wall you want to space these 2 to 3 foot apart. These grow in a tall up and down shape and usually require nearly no pruning.
There are many different kinds of Laurel, probably the most popular is your standard English Laurel plant. These are some of your faster growing evergreen hedge makers! They have shiny green leaves and can grow 2ft per year average once established. These are the kind of evergreens that are good for those that do not like the “Christmas tree” style evergreen such as the emerald green arborvitae as shown above. In some areas these can be known to be invasive to be very careful where you plant them and make sure you can keep them under control. Since they grow fast that means they will need to be pruned more to keep them the height you want. If you let them grown full grown they can reach heights of 12ft tall and 8ft wide.
If you want an evergreen that will give you some beautiful flowers during the growing season, rhododendrons might be the plant for you! The Taurus is one of my favorite as it has beautiful red flowers and the leaves of rhododendrons are a glossy green. We live in north central Missouri which is zone 6a and the ones we have so far still have their leaves and are perfectly green even after temps close to 0f, ice and tons of snow! There are hundreds of kinds of rhododendrons out there, not all are even evergreen and some only do 2 or 3 feet tall and some can do 6 to 8ft tall. These could make a great hedge on their own, but what I did is randomly plant them along and in front of the 500ft line of emerald green arborvitaes we have to add a bit more color during the growing year time instead of just solid green all year. What I did with mine was randomly added them in front of the emerald greens to add some color through the year
Nelly Stevens Holly
I would of used more of these sooner if I didn’t just find out about them a few months ago, I already planted 6 to give a different look but to block out the eight of our two huge propane tanks that hold propane to heat our house, I planted 6 of these around it all about 3′ apart. These can get pretty large really more the size of a small tree, but I will keep mine trimmed closer to 6′ tall just enough to block the ugly sight of the propane tanks! These would make a good hedge of any size. These can eventually do 30′ tall and 15′ wide unless they are trimmed otherwise. They are considered fast growing to get up to 3ft it growth per year. These have little berries on them (not edible) that can be very prominent and show red color in the winter. These do have a bit of a stickery feel on the edges of the leaves, not as bad as some hollys or roses but they are there. If you are going to plant a lot of these just remember you would have to prune them probably twice per year to keep them to size so if you have 20 of them that would be quite a bit of work! These can also make more of a wind block and dust screen as well as tall as they get. These have held their green leaves to very cold temps and ice here as well.
This plant was a big let down for me, but it’s not the plants fault so it deserves to be on this list. The leaves stayed green up until the start of November when temps were getting closer to 20f. These are evergreen but not to zone 6 like the false advertising said from where I bought them! The leaves turned brown and then fell off, same with the golden euonymus I have. Some kinds of euonymus are evergreen to zone 6 here but not the manhattan. It will still make a nice fast growing sense hedge but depending on your zone it may not be evergreen for you.
Many people have different opinions about boxwood, you will find someone either likes them or hates them. The biggest complaint I have heard is that most boxwood are slow growing and some people complain that they smell like urine or cat litter. I have some boxwood and I have never smelled anything bad at all from them. They are indeed usually slower growers, there are some hybrids that grow faster though you can find. Boxwood usually grow in a rounded shape and sometimes they are shaped in a square. They have small little leaves that are evergreen and are pretty dense. These are normally good for your shorter line of hedge.
To me personally, nandina is one I hadn’t heard of until recently so while what I know about them is a little less than some others, I still feel they should be on this list, while these would typically also make your shorter hedge like boxwood, they are still evergreen with leaves that can be green to red depending on the time of year, here in our zone 6a the two we have are holding their leaves. These are also called heavenly bamboo. The berries are said to be poisonous to birds that may feed on them though, but some claim most of the new versions of these have little to no berries that grow on them.
Green Giant Arborvitaes
My favorite of them all, these would typically be an overkill for a privacy hedge but you could keep them trimmed I guess but…. if you are looking for something no one can see through, that will block dust from a gravel road, block wind, grow really fast, have a pretty long lifespan, be pretty drought tolerant once established, and just an all around awesome plant – this is the one for you. There are many kinds of arborvitaes but these are a cross between two plants so these can only be produced from cuttings from other green giants. These can grow 40 to 60 foot tall, and around 8 to 12ft wide. I have planted around 100 of these on the north side of our property, once these get established they can grow 3ft per year! I planted ours 6ft apart. These are also cold hardy to like way up north.
While I have not used this plant for any sort of hedge, I do have a few of them, one I planted myself over a year go and then one that was planted by our house before we purchased it. I would guess that plant to be at least 10 years old. These do grow really slow and most would consider these to be more of your “Christmas tree” look. They normally grow around 8 to 10ft tall and 4 to 6ft wide. The larger one I have did start to get brown spots turning to bare spots that were getting worse and worse, turns out there is a kind of bug you cannot see since it’s so small that will slowly kill these, however you can buy sprays to kill them o use your garden hose nozzle to knock them off and kill them. Now just because I have had this happen does not mean it’s not a good one to plant, I am just speaking from my own experience.
I hope this article has been helpful to you – you can always do a google search and see companies working hard to sell plants but I try to give my own honest opinion about them from my own personal experience. If you want to check out our YouTube channel we make tons of videos on our plants, how we use them, and tracking their growth! Look up “Weaver Family Farms” on youtube!