Privacy Bush/Flowers


Hi there,

We are looking to plant a bush, flowers, etc along our 20 foot chain link fence in our backyard. The area gets sun in the summer from about 10am-4 pm. We want to plant something that offers alot of privacy, and ideally doesn’t require too much maintenance. Although we are open to evergreens, we’d prefer flowers or ateast an evergreen that provides some colour as well. It’s important that this plant offers privacy all year around. I’m not too familiar wit how flowers that can achieve these requirements, and would greatly appreciate your suggestions. Also, kindly suggests evergreens as well so we can decide on which one would go best with the overall garden. For evergreens, I personally like cypress trees ( but I’m not sure if that would work in Toronto. If not, kindly suggest something similar that can work in Toronto. Thank you so very much!!



Thank you for your question about a living privacy screen. Unfortunately the architecturally interesting Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), native to southern Europe and western Asia, would not survive in Canadian Hardiness Zones lower than 8. Toronto is generally Hardiness Zone 6. Trees with a columnar growth habit provide little privacy and are useful as a single (or group) specimen in a city yard. A consideration in your choice of landscaping materials is to increase biodiversity by emphasizing the selection of native species over non-natives and avoiding invasive species such as euonymus. Several native species of evergreens may meet your needs. Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is likely your best choice for privacy, low maintenance and hardiness. For a 20 ft. (6 m) hedge, 20 or more trees of 6 to 7 feet (approx. 2 m) in height would provide some immediate privacy until the newly planted trees develop good root growth and density with relatively little maintenance. Refer to the growers’ instructions on their services, planting, maintenance instructions and guarantee. Fresh dug trees from a reliable local tree farm are the preferred choice for healthy trees.

 As for colour, there are wonderful deciduous native species (or their cultivars) of trees, bushes or vines such as dogwood or saskatoon (serviceberry) which could be planted at an appropriate distance from the hedge. While the size and location of your planned garden are not mentioned, perennials and annuals will provide a variety of colour, textures and heights. To design your garden, there are online sources for garden designs.  Also, edible plants can be included in your design, e.g. such as Lacinato aka dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea Dinosaur Kale). Soil preparation, moisture and suitable sun exposure are keys to thriving trees and gardens.

 For further information, please see:

Plant Hardiness Zones

Privacy Screen

List of trees native to South Central Ontario

Also, for additional information, try a search of the Toronto Master Gardener website using the word “privacy”.

Enjoy planning your landscaping project.