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Landscape Plants to Use in Borders and Screens

Plants used for borders and screens serve several important design functions such as blocking undesirable views, separating areas in the yard, creating vistas, and adding vertical dimension to an area, among others. In recent years, increasing attention has been devoted to the function of environmental or climate control with plant materials. Properly located border or screen plants will buffer highway noise and dust, deflect wind currents away from home, cast shade in summer for cooling, and allow sun penetration in winter for heating a structure.

Once the functional aspects have been determined, select plants that will be tolerant of your soil and exposure conditions. Then select those which offer aesthetic value during several seasons of the year.

Always properly prepare the planting site, space plants at least one half their mature size apart, water during dry periods and control weeds, insects, and diseases as needed.

Space limitations preclude lengthy lists, however, the plants listed below represent some of the major plant groups that can be used for borders, screens, hedges, and wind-break purposes.


Shrubs – Deciduous species 

  • Aronia
  • Berberis (Barberry)
  • Ligustrum (Privet)
  • Clethra
  • Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  • Cornus (Dogwood)
  • Philadelphus (Mockorange)
  • Rhamnus frangula (Buckthorn) 
  • Cotoneaster divaricata (Spreading Cotoneaster)
  • Euonymus alatus (Burning Bush)
  • Rosa species (Rose)
  • Pyracantha coccinea (Firethorn)
  • Ribes (Currant)
  • Spirea
  • Hibiscus syriacus (Shrub Althea)
  • Viburnum
  • Hydrangea

Shrubs – Evergreen

  • Berberis (Barberry)
  • Taxus (Yew)
  • Buxus (Boxwood)
  • Chamaecyparis
  • Thuja (Arborvitae)
  • Ilex (Holly)
  • Rhododendron P.J.M
  • Juniper

Trees – Deciduous species

  • Acer (Maple)
  • Fraxinus (Ash)  
  • Betula (Birch) 
  • Morus alba (White Mulberry)
  • Carpinus betulus (European Hornbeam)
  • Quercus (Oak)  
  • Crartaegus (Hawthorn)                                                          
  • Salix (Willow)
  • Elaegnus angustifolia (Russian Olive)
  • Tilia cordata (Littleleaf Linden)
  • Fagus (Beech)
  • Gleditsia triacanthos cultivars (Honeylocust)

Trees – Evergreen 

  • Chamaecyparis 
  • Ilex opaca (American Holly)
  • Picea (Spruce) 
  • Thuja occidentalis cultivars (Eastern Arb) 
  • Tsuga canadensis (Canada Hemlock) 


The most effective windbreaks are evergreens. However, since they grow slowly, fast growing deciduous plants are often planted in front of evergreens and should be removed as the evergreen matures.

Shrubs – Deciduous

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive)
  • Philadelphus (Mockorange) 
  • Kolkwitzia amabilis (Beautybush) 
  • Syringa (Lilac)
  • Ligustrum (Privit)
  • Rhamus frangula (Buckhorn)
  • Viburnum

Shrubs – Evergreen

  • Buxus sempervirens (Common Boxwood)
  • Thuja orientalis (Eastern Arborvitae)
  • Prunus laurocerasus (Laurel Cherry)
  • Thuja occidentalis (Eastern  Arborvitae)
  • Vibernum Willowwood

Trees – Deciduous species  

  • Acer (Maple)
  • Carpinus betulus (European Hornbeam)
  • Fagus (Beech) 
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry Dogwood) 
  • Tulip (Poplar) 

Trees – Evergreen

  • Juniper Pinus (Pine)
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)
  • Pica (Spruce)
  • Thuja (Arborvitae


Trees and shrubs with thorny stems are useful as more permanent barrier plants.


  • Crataegus (Hawthorn)
  • Quercus (Oak)
  • Gleditsia triacanthos (Honeylocust)
  • Tilia (Linden)
  • Ulmus (Elm)
  • Amelanchier


  • Rosa (Shrub Roses)
  • Berberis (Barberry) 
  • Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince)
  • Acanthopanax
  • Eleagnus (Autumn Olive)
  • Pyracantha (Firethorn)


Source: OSU Ext. Elton M. Smith

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