Requests for information about fast growing evergreen shrubs is a regular question to the Sunday Gardener. We all like privacy in our gardens, and sometimes there is a need to create a hedge or buffer quickly, but avoiding the blandness of conifers and problems of Leylandii.
If you are planning a hedge or screen in proximity to your neighbours, you need to be aware of the law and act sensitively. As an alternative, you could consider planting a deciduous hedge, such as a Fagus, the common Beech, which is fast growing and not evergreen. It gives privacy but is a less dense shrub, creating less shade.
Planting a fast-growing shrub is good in some ways as it produces an instant result, but a fast-growing hedge produces a lot of growth quickly and needs regular pruning. It can also produce very dense shade around it. It is important to view the space and surroundings before deciding. For example, Portuguese laurel is correctly billed as a fast-growing evergreen, but it also gets very large and in around 7 years can reach 7m and 2/3m wide which if planted on a boundary could swamp the area and be unmanageable.
It is a question of balance, to cover a fence or unattractive spot in the garden weighed against the size the evergreen will become, how quickly and the amount of maintenance. It is great to get the cover, but you do not want to have to spend time or money cutting back to prevent the evergreen from taking over. With that caveat, there are a good number of easy, fast-growing evergreen shrubs.
Crocus has a fabulous selection including the shrubs identifed below.
Thinking of planting bamboo to provide a quick screen?
Check out my guide to planting non invasive bamboo in the garden for hints, tips and a complete list of invasive and non invasive bamboo varieties.