15 Best Privacy Plants for Balconies, Decks & Patios

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Published: Last Updated on
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Finding a privacy solution for your outdoor space is a challenge that plants can address.

In this article, we’ll go over all the things you need to consider before choosing the right privacy plants, and we’ll also give you 15 great options to help you narrow down your selections.

Whether you’re looking to create privacy on your balcony, deck, or patio we have you covered!

Balcony Plants vs. Patio Plants vs. Deck Plants

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the differences between a patio, a deck and a balcony and how this can affect your choices for plants and privacy.

There’s no need to explicitly define each of these structures, as you should already know whether you’ve got a balcony, deck, or patio. However, they offer different considerations, so we’ll look at those before going over your privacy plant options.

Balcony

The defining features of a balcony that’ll affect your plant choices include:

  • Railings. Railings give you options for climbing and creeping plants, and for railing planters. They make a great base for growing privacy plants.
  • No ground access. All your plants will need to be potted, meaning you might be restricted with large or fast-growing plants.
  • Weight limits. Although it’s unlikely you’ll exceed the weight limit, it still exists. Your building supervisor or owner should have information on your balcony’s weight limit, but this could impact what (or how many) plants you have.
  • Height restrictions. If you have a covered balcony, you can’t grow massive trees. However, this does make it easier to make your balcony private because you only need to address face.

Deck

Making decks more private isn’t too difficult, but consider the following factors:

  • Railings. As with balconies, decks usually have rails that are perfect for growing plants.
  • Weight limits. Your deck will likely have a weight limit of some kind, especially if it’s made from wood. However, it should be pretty high, but make sure you check before planting anything.
  • Height from the ground. If your deck isn’t too high off the ground, nothing is stopping you from planting things directly in the soil. This’ll help your plants grow better than if they were in pots.
  • Deck maintenance. If your deck is wood (as most are), don’t forget that you’ll need to maintain it at some point. As such, you might want plants that you can move around, so potted, freestanding plants could be a good option.

Patio

In most ways, a patio is the easiest to work with. However, there are some restrictions or drawbacks:

  • No weight limit. As patios sit directly on the ground, there’s no need to worry about weight limits.
  • Access to soil. Similarly, you could plant privacy plants directly in the soil next to your patio, giving you far more freedom.
  • No railing or roof. Generally, a patio doesn’t have a roof or railings. This means you probably can’t have railing planters or hanging plants. However, this is offset by the greater freedom you have over things like trees and bushes.

Of course, these are by no means applicable to all decks, patios and balconies. It’s just worth considering the advantages and restrictions of your outdoor space before you start choosing the best privacy plants.

Considerations Before Choosing Privacy Plants

Balconies and decks are typically more limited spaces than patios, which means you’ll need to get creative. Here are a few things to consider before choosing privacy plants.

Climate

It’s essential to check your local climate before purchasing plants for balcony privacy. Fortunately, the USDA Hardiness Zone Map compiles all the data for you. It gives you an easy-to-remember number for your zip code.

Hardiness indicates how well a plant will handle the cold, heat, and other climate factors. Before you buy your plants for balcony privacy, you should check the hardiness zone each one thrives in. This simple check could save you several dead plants.

You should also look up the rainfall in your area. While this is part of the hardiness zone calculations, the area around your balcony may get significantly more or less rain. You can view this information from your local news station, weather.gov, or noaa.gov.

Sunlight

Plants need sunlight to thrive, and the orientation of your balcony plays a significant role in how much sunlight your privacy plants can get on any given day. For example, north-facing balconies get little direct sunlight for the Northern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, south-facing balconies tend to receive a lot of sunlight. East and west-facing balconies receive light in the morning or evening, respectively. Ordinal directions like southeast get a combination of sunlight depending on the time of year.

If you are unsure how much sunlight your balcony gets, consider purchasing a sunlight calculator and place the device where you’re thinking of putting plants on your balcony. Most of them read for 24 hours to give you a reasonable estimate.

Maintenance

Some privacy plants require more care than others do. Before buying, ask yourself how much time you can realistically commit for your plants. If the answer is very little, find low-maintenance plants to match your lifestyle.

Typically, plants native to your area will require less maintenance and interventions. This difference is due to local adaptation, and it applies even when the plant is potted. Bringing in something non-native tends to require more interventions.

Soil

Different plants need different soil types and nutrients, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for plants.

Soil pH is one of the significant factors for plants. Most plants only tolerate a narrow range of how acidic or base soil is, and you may have to add things to your soil choice regularly to support the proper pH.

Plants also have specific nutrient requirements, and gradually leach these out of the soil you’ve put them in. This depletion is a particular issue with railing planters since they offer such a small space, but any soil can become depleted if you do not replenish it properly.

Space

You will also need to evaluate your available space carefully before picking privacy plants. After all, you don’t want to end up with too many plants or too little space to go onto the balcony yourself.

First, evaluate your balcony. You want to ensure it is firmly attached to your building and that it is not sagging. It must be able to support the extra weight of your pots, dirt, and plants constantly. If you are unsure, consult your property manager or a professional.

Then, figure out how much space you want to devote to your plants. This calculation will be a much smaller area than for plants for patio privacy, so make sure you’re realistic. Remember to account for railing planters if you can have them.

Growth Potential

Now that you understand the space you’re working with, you can get a good idea about what types of plants you can get. When considering plants for privacy, you must also consider how they will grow. You want them to obscure you, not take over the space.

If you are picking plants from home, research how tall and wide each plant is at maturity. At the nursery, confirm with an employee how big you can expect the plant to get. There’s nothing worse than choosing something that will outgrow railing planters in two months.

What to Look for at the Store

Once you arrive at a store or nursery, there will be many plant options. It’s best to bring a list of plants you researched to avoid getting overwhelmed. You should also check a plant for general health before buying.

When looking at a plant, the leaves should be vibrant looking and free of holes or spots. This look indicates a healthy plant. You should also ask a nursery professional to help you gently lift the plant so you can see the roots. They should be loose and not woven together.

Best Privacy Plants

The best privacy plants will depend on where you live, but there are some consistent favorites across multiple states. These plants for balcony, deck or patio privacy look amazing, do the job, and some even work with railing planters!

1. Lavender

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Lavender is a wonderful drought tolerant plant that works well as a natural screen for privacy. Not all lavenders are small like those in railing planters, so you can find varieties that go up to three feet easily. Lavender is suitable for hardiness zones 5 through 9.

2. Hydrangea

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Hydrangea blooms beautifully through the summer and often into fall. There are several different varieties, so you can get the size that works for your balcony space, and this plant tolerates part-shade conditions. Of course, if you plant it in the ground next to your deck or patio, you’ll end up with a much larger plant. This plant is suitable for hardiness zones 3 through 9.

3. Hollyhocks

Best for: Patios and decks

Hollyhock is a perennial blooming plant suitable for hardiness zones 3 to 9. It does require that you keep it out of the wind, so keep that in mind. A hollyhock can grow to be over 12 feet tall, and you can get them with distinctly colored flowers for your privacy screen.

You can plant hollyhocks on balconies, but they’ll be restricted by you growing them in a pot.

4. Bamboo

bamboo privacy plant on a balcony

Best for: Decks and balconies

Bamboo is a fast-growing plant in most circumstances, so it’s a good choice if you want a fast natural privacy screen. Most bamboo is from temperate climates, but you can find varieties from the mountains that are a little hardier and cold-resistant if you need to.

Nothing is stopping you from planting bamboo around your patio (in theory). Bamboo is considered an invasive plant in some areas, meaning you can’t plant it at all. If you do want to plant it in the ground, choose a clumping variety rather than a running one.

We have an entire article on selecting the best type of bamboo for privacy, which you can check out for more specific recommendations.

5. Pampas Grass

pampas grass on a balcony for privacy

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Pampas grass comes in several varieties, and the hardiest can grow in zones 5 through 9. This plant has a distinctive tuft at the top over summer and fall. Since it is a grass, pampas tends to grow quickly and well in pots. This plant also tolerates sea salt spray.

If you plant it directly in the ground, bear in mind you’ll need to cut it back hard in the fall. As such, you’ll lose your privacy over winter.

6. Fountain Grass

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Fountain grass is another possibility if you live in hardiness zone 5 or warmer. This grass displays beautiful colors throughout the warm months. It also adds an airy quality to your balcony, deck or patio any time of year. You can put this one in a railing planter.

7. Hanging Plants

Best for: Balconies or covered patios/decks

We’re going to include hanging plants as their own category here since there are so many different varieties that will work on a balcony, depending on your needs. Certain types of hanging plants – such as ivy and pothos are ideal for balcony privacy.

You’ll obviously need something to hang them off, which rules out uncovered outdoor spaces.

8. Arborvitae

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Arborvitae is a variety of coniferous shrub that grows well in pots. You can prune them to match your space, and some types grow to ten feet. This shrub is cold and drought tolerant, as well as generally hardy since it can live in zones 3 through 7.

Planting them directly in the ground will allow them to reach their full growth potential, but means maintenance will be more difficult.

9. Indian Hawthorn

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Indian hawthorn is a shrub that produces pink-white blooms. While most people plant it in the ground, it can also thrive in a pot and be pruned into any shape you want. These balcony privacy plants only survive in warm climates like hardiness zones 7 to 10.

10. Red Twig Dogwood

red twig dogwood privacy plant

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

These vibrant plants add color to your balcony privacy screen all year round. In the spring and summer, they grow leaves and small flowers. Over winter, all the leaves drop, and the bright red stems are revealed. Red twig dogwood is suitable for hardiness zones 2 through 8.

11. Boston Fern

Best for: All outdoor spaces (either potted or in the ground)

Boston ferns might not be your first thought for privacy plants, but their bushy foliage makes them a great pick.

You can hang them or keep them in planters. Combining both will give you some great coverage. Bear in mind, though, Boston ferns can be very picky about their living conditions. As such, they might not be the best pick for beginner gardeners.

If you’re planting them directly in the ground, find out whether your area has any native ferns. They’ll do much better in your soil and weather conditions.

12. Japanese Maple

Best for: All outdoor spaces – potted is best

Also known as Acer, the Japanese Maple has bushy foliage in green or red. It’s an ideal plant for shady balconies, and dwarf varieties work amazingly as potted plants. What’s more, Acers are easy to care for and will add interest to your balcony garden.

13. Jasmine

Best for: Balcony or deck

There are plenty of reasons why you should add jasmine to your outdoor space. It’s a fast grower, has thick foliage, and the flowers smell amazing. Like other creeping plants, it works best grown up a supporting structure. A balcony railing or wooden trellis would be perfect for this, so you probably already have a suitable space for jasmine.

Jasmine needs something to grow up, meaning it’ll work best on a balcony or deck. However, if your patio has a pergola or roof, jasmine will look amazing growing up this.

14. Climbing Plants

Best for: Balcony or deck

On the subject of climbing plants, there are plenty of other choices that work well as privacy plants. If you want more information, check out our full article on climbing plants for balconies. All these options will work anywhere that has support, such as a deck or covered patio.

15. Trailing Plants

Best for: Balcony or deck

Trailing plants are slightly different from climbers in that they don’t typically grow suckers or their own supports. As such, you’ll need to tie them up, so they work best grown up a railing.

Final Thoughts on Balcony Privacy Plants

Designing your balcony or patio space with plants for privacy is a great idea. However, it requires careful research and planning to ensure you end up with the living oasis you want!