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  • Writer's pictureKristina Browning

Plants to create a Privacy Hedge: Options for Oregon

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

If you are a homeowner and you are looking to create a visual barrier between your home and your neighbors' home or the street, you may be doing research to find out the best privacy plants in Oregon.

As a Realtor in Portland, I often see homes that could be so much more attractive without the chain link fence or without the view of the neighbors' autobody shop in plain sight out the side window. These scenarios are ideal for hedge planting.

As yourself a few questions:

1. Do I want it to be evergreen so I cannot see through it year-round?

2. How many feet do I need to cover? This measurement will help decide how many plants you need to buy. Let's discuss SPACING: Avoid planting your new plants so close that you will have a solid hedge in one season. Why? Because as the plants mature, they will be too close together and can suffer as a result. Leave a minimum of two feet between plants. A good rule of thumb is, if the plant grows 1 foot per year, plant them four feet apart. However, before you make your final decision on which plants, keep in mind that the faster something grows, the more you'll have to tend to it with pruning, watering and fertilizing. However, if you pick something that grows a bit slower, it can be a better long term choice because that maintenance is far less.

3. What plants to consider...

  • Arborvitae is one of the most common hedges you see around Oregon because of its low-maintenance quality.

  • Wax Leaf Privet is one of my favorites because it has a moderate growth rate only requiring pruning once a year and it attracts butterflies with it's large, 8-inch-long clusters of pure-white flowers in spring.

  • The Mexican Orange has light green evergreen leaves that seem tropical to me with white scented flowers. They grow to six feet tall and can be a nice choice for a shady area.

  • The Taxus: Yew is a lovely specimen that I recently purchased myself with chunky and soft green needles that form a dense screen. Because some grow upright and others low and wide, head to one of our many local nurseries to choose one that is growing in the manner you desire for your property. They take to pruning very well and can handle both sun or shade. With moderate growth, you'll only have to prune it once per year if at all.

  • English Laurel is actually on the cities' list of nuisance plants because of the high maintenance required to keep this fast-growing shrub in control. You'll need to prune it two to three times a year.

  • The Wild Lilac has blue flowers and small evergreen leaves. When we first moved in, the landscapers put a tiny one next to the road along our back alley. Five years later, it's over 8 feet tall! I can attest that it is drought tolerant and fast-growing. Its flowers attract bees so keeping it at a distance from tiny children can be a good plan. We put a bee house close to ours to encourage all the goodness!

What is most interesting about writing this article is that I personally have all of these plants in my yard except the Arborvitae and the English Laurel! I live in an area where homes were built extraordinarily close together so getting some different interesting plants in the ground surrounding the home was paramount to making it feel more private with less emphasis on fences as walls. Obviously when you are debating between a couple of plants, choosing native Oregon plants for privacy can be a good hand to bet. They will survive with the least amount of upkeep.

Next, let's talk about WHEN to PLANT: The best time to plant is in the spring for evergreens but wait for fall to plant deciduous plants. A good long term hedge will take 2 - 3 years to become solid before you get a fence-like feel that you may be wanting to achieve but that's ok! Always think long term. Quick gratification always bites you in the behind. Bamboo will be the same if they are planted every five feet. Plant in the coolest part of the day -typically early morning or early evening.

Soil: It's a good idea to make sure you have 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil and (per the directions you always see on the tag) dig your holes twice as wide as the container and a little deeper.

Maintenance: Now that you have decided what to buy and you've gotten it planted, it would be a shame for all that to go to waste, so make sure you water it slowly for an hour once a week. This is most important during the first couple of years while the plants establish their roots. Fertilizing in the Spring and Fall can help your hedge become solid more quickly.

You may want to refer to The Portland Plant List comprised of two lists and supporting information: the Native Plants List and the Nuisance Plants List. Both plant lists are integral to the City of Portland’s natural resource protection program and invasive species management strategy. You can find the Tree and Landscaping manual for Portland here.

Interested in what to plant under a window or along the front in your flower beds? Check out this blog post here!


Kristina Browning is a five-star rated real estate agent in Oregon City, also serving Portland and West Linn. If you are online searching for a realtor, reference the list of reviews by scrolling down on the Buy and Sell pages on my website and then Call, Text or email her to share your timeline and goals.


If you are considering moving to Oregon City, visit the website for more information on the town itself.

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