Create a Living Fence with Evergreens

Aside from the vibrant color, there are a number of other reasons to plant evergreens. Large trees can create a screen to provide privacy that won’t wane with the seasons. Additionally, these trees and shrubs can create a buffer or noise barrier between your garden or home and busy streets or loud neighbors. Here are my favorite evergreens to use in creating a living fence.

5 Evergreens to Use for a Living Fence

Whatever your reasons may be for introducing evergreens to your garden, here are five of my favorite shrubs and trees to plant.

create a living fence with evergreens
Boxwoods create a living wall around the garden.

1.  Boxwood – My garden would not be complete without boxwoods. I use them to create living walls, punctuate entries, and serve as focal points. The bright green foliage pops against the gray winter landscape. You’ll want to plant these workhorse shrubs in full sun to partial shade in fertile, well-drained soil. Even though they are shrubs, they can grow up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, depending on variety.

Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed with the green foliage these timeless classic beauties bring to your lawn. Keep in mind some boxwoods will “brown out” in the winter, so choose a variety that retains its green color. At Moss Mountain Farm, we plant the Green Velvet boxwoods.

2.  Arborvitae – These green beauties have a natural conical shape and are often grown as a tree or tall shrub. Planting arborvitae in a row close together is a great way to create a natural fence. The plants grow best in full sun to partial shade and need well-drained, slightly acidic soil. I like to use arborvitae as a background so that flowers and shrubs “pop” against them.

Create a Living Fence with Evergreens
Arborvitae at Moss Mountain Farm

Arborvitae can withstand the weight of ice and snow. I recommend the ‘Emerald Green’ variety, which holds its color through winter. The foliage of the ‘Green Giant’ tends to bronze when the temperatures drop.

3.  Yew – Similar in style to boxwoods, yew trees are also a staple in English gardens. They are particularly beautiful when used to create the walls of a garden room. However, you should know that all parts of the yew are poisonous. Therefore, you should not bring them in from the garden or ingest any part of them. Plant them in full to partial shade in well-drained soil. Yews prefer a drier soil rather than wet, so water carefully.

4.  Holly – Hollies grow quickly, which make them a great choice when creating screens or hedges. Most hollies require full sun and well-drained soil with some acidity. They are low-maintenance and pest-free, for the most part.

There are plenty of varieties to choose from. If you want to grow hollies for their berries, you’ll need to make sure you have some male plants around for pollination, since only the female plants produce berries. Keep in mind that those pretty berries are poisonous to dogs and humans, so be careful! I like to use cuttings from my hollies in holiday decor around the farm.

5.  Leyland Cypress – Perhaps one of the most popular and often-seen plantings, the Leyland Cypress will grow quickly wherever you plant it if you continue to water. They make excellent privacy screens; however, be aware that over time they often grow 50 feet high (or taller in many cases), meaning you’ll need plenty of space in order to plant them and watch them continue to mature through the years. Plan for 5 to 7 feet between each cypress tree and assume they will be 10 to 15 feet in height after 5 years of maturation.