Plants may do the job of creating privacy or blocking bad views – if they have enough space and the right amount of sun to do the job. Examples of plants in too-small spots and causing maintenance headaches are to be found all over town.

For a larger choice of plants, especially fast-growing and disease-resistant ones, consider flowering shrubs that drop their leaves, not just evergreens. Flowering shrubs are usually cheaper than evergreens, too.

Leyland cypress used to be the go-to fast-growing evergreen – until it was found to be short-lived, easy to damage in storms, generally not safe.
The fastest-growing Arborvitae is ‘Green Giant.” Unfortunately it grows to 50-60′ tall and 12-20’ wide.
Stock photo of ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae, showing how tightly they have to be planted to provide privacy. Planting this closely isn’t good for the plants, though, and could cause browning and die-back.
Arbovitae ‘Emerald Green’ stay short – about 8-10′ – but also in my experience don’t grow at ALL. I planted these to screen my view of parked cars, and maybe someday they will.
Photinia looking good, when the new growth emerges in spring. A famously high-maintenance plant, due to pruning requirement and tendency to disease.
Evergreen Photinia in a tall hedge in GHI, showing disease.
Winter shot – Privet on the left, not evergreen, and Euonymus on the right, definitely evergreen. Both are labor-intensive to keep them clear of sidewalks and require some skill to prune correctly.
“Blue Prince’ holly hedge was tried in a GHI yard but all succumbed to disease.
Abelia is fast-growing to about 5′ tall. Somewhat evergreen (often retains some of its leaves). Here along Ridge Road.
A great evergreen that comes in many sizes – Prunus Laurocerasus or “Cherry Laurel”. This one, ‘Otto Luyken,’ stays about 4′ tall, perfect for under windows. Very low-maintenance.
Cryptomeria ‘Yoshino’
Nandina domesticas individually aren’t thick enough to screen but CAN serve that purpose if planted in a wide enough bunch. Still, by late winter they’re usually leggy, having lost most of their leaves.
Love this example of 3 Doublefile Viburnums in 58 Court Crescent screening parking lot views for 3 homes. View from the lot.
Doublefile Viburnums – blocking view of the parking lot. They’re not evergreen but even in winter the branches provide some screening.
Here even a rather short Viburnum (the 4-5′ tall Koreanspice Viburnum) screens patio chairs from passersby. This is the most fragrant of all Viburnums.
Oakleaf hydrangeas grow fast to 6′ or taller. These are at the underpass entrance.
More nonevergreens here – Bridal Wreath Spirea on the left and a young-but-fast-growing Ninebark on the right.
Closer view of the Ninebark’s terrific reddish leaves. This little island of 2 Ninebarks and 1 Spirea is in the common space at 5 Court Ridge.
Abelia is fast-growing to about 5′ tall. Somewhat evergreen (often retains some of its leaves). Here along Ridge Road.