Barrier plants provide a delineation of a boundary, or a barricade against unwanted entrance. They can provide a shield for unsightly yards or vegetation, can create a barrier for sound, and can hinder unwanted intruders who want to gain access to a house or business. The type of protection desired determines which type of barrier plants to use in a specific environment.
There are many uses for barrier plants. People living on corner properties may want to erect sight and access barriers. Those living near highways or high traffic thoroughfares might want to use barrier plants to reduce the sound of passing cars. Some types of barrier plants can restrict pests and predators from accessing a property.
Plants that restrict access are typically waist-high or higher. They are often dense and have spikes or thorns. Thick hedge-like growths can make an effective barricade against many types of intruders. A wide strip of thick, prickly ground cover can also deter access from people and animals.
To block views and hide clotheslines or garbage cans, tall, dense plants are the best choice. Evergreen trees or shrubs planted in tight groups can screen a property from outsiders. Deciduous trees and shrubs can also create an effective screen, but remember that the leaves disappear in the fall and winter. Hedges make a good natural barrier although it takes a lot of work to keep them looking nice. They can grow to 10 feet or more so they not only are effective for screening, they also can prevent outside access.
For a more decorative barrier, flowering shrubs, or perennials can be used. Examples include azalea, camellia, bush roses, holly, jasmine, and dogwood. Other options might include vines and climbing plants such as trumpet vine, English ivy, or morning glory can be trained up a trellis or fence to provide a screen or sight barrier. Tall ornamental grasses can also be used as barrier plants, especially when interspersed with other types of plants, trees, or shrubs. Large, thick-leaved plants such as bromeliads, some types of cactus, or lilac can absorb sound as well as provide privacy.
Whatever types of plants are used as barrier plants, they must be chosen carefully. Take into consideration how big they will grow, whether they lose their leaves, what type of soil they require, and how much water and trimming they require. It's also important to consider neighboring structures or property so you don't restrict public access, views, or sunlight.