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Chicago Landscaping Tips: 5 Great Plants for Creating Privacy

Chicago Landscaping Tips

Finding ways to create private outdoor areas in cities like Chicago can be faster and easier than you might think. Moreover, Chicago landscaping options aimed at privacy can offer a treasure trove of benefits far beyond the limits of a 6-foot fence.

To define your urban space and create a retreat in a city environment, you can build a privacy screen using a judicious selection of Chicago-hardy landscaping specimens. By using landscaping to define your space, you get the added benefits of infusing softness, color, and ambiance into your intimate spaces. In addition, hedges and natural landscaping screens can also be highlighted with low voltage or solar lighting to increase your enjoyment of the space.

What’s practical about the plants we recommend for privacy screening is that they’re all moderate to fast-growing, winter hardy, draught-resistant, low maintenance and – last but not least – many of these plant-based privacy screens keep their foliage year round.

Take a look at our list of Chicago-specific specimens and consider them in planning your outdoor retreat. Remember that early-to-mid fall or early-to-mid spring is a great time to plant these five varieties.

1) Carpinus Betula – “Fastigiata”

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Also known as the “Pyramidal European Hornbeam,” the deciduous “Fastigiata” prefers full to partial sun. Over time, “Fastigiata” naturally takes on a pyramidal shape. Considered a pest-free plant, this species works well in city scapes, as its rooting system doesn’t surface and won’t interfere with patios or walkways. Once established, “Fastigiata” tolerates urban air as well as wet or even waterlogged soils. “Fastigiata” does well in a windy site and provides great fall color with its brilliant yellow foliage. It can act as a screen, as a wind break or as sound barrier.

2) Thuja Occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ — “Emerald Green Cedar”

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Capable of growing 8 to 12 inches a year, this tall, narrow evergreen can eventually soar to 25 feet tall. The draught-resistant ‘Smaradg’ likes full sun and requires only a quick pruning at the top to even up the hedge. This easy-to-grow species thrives in all soil types and produces a dense foliage, making it an ideal plant for screening.


3) Juniperus Virginiana — “Sky Rocket”

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Sky Rocket’s size makes it a perfect choice for creating urban privacy. Growing up to a foot a year, this species reaches maturity in 10 to 15 years at about 15 feet tall with a width of only 2 to 3 feet. Extremely draught resistant and relatively disease-free, Juniperus Virginiana prefers full sun but will take a bit of shade. 


4) Viburnum Trilobum — “Redwing”

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With a moderate growth rate, the showy, deciduous “Redwing” reaches a fairly equal height and spread of 8-10 feet. This species of viburnum requires full sun to part shade. Before shedding its leaves, “Redwing” produces a yellowish fruit that turns bright-to-wine red in the fall. A favorite with birds, “Redwing” adds color and contrast to your garden.


5) Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ — “Hicks Yew”

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“Hicks Yew” grows somewhat slowly, but this evergreen eventually reaches 10-12 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Easy to care for, “Hicks Yew” requires little more than regular watering in extreme heat. Producing berry-like cones, this specimen provides privacy and year-round greenery.

About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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