If that block wall in your yard makes you dread looking out the window, disguise it with some attractive, low-maintenance shrubs. Not only will this living screen hide that ugly wall, choosing flowering or colorful shrub varieties will add color, fragrance and texture to your landscape. Shrubs that bear fruit attract birds, too, so you and your little ones can enjoy checking out your yard’s feathered visitors. Just be sure to keep your yard kid-safe by selecting non-toxic shrubs to hide your block wall.
Deciduous Shrubs to 8 Feet Tall
For bright yellow color early in the season, plant an early forsythia (Forsythia ouata) along your block wall. These 6-foot-tall and wide shrubs bloom in late winter and have spreading branches that block an unattractive backdrop. Early forsythias are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 7 and grow best in cool sites. For those warm spots near your wall, consider the heat-tolerant cut-leaf lilac (Syringa laciniata). This 8-foot-tall shrub fills the yard with fragrance in spring with its tall, light purple flowers. Hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, the cut-leaf lilac prefers sunny to lightly shaded exposures.
Evergreen Shrubs to 8 Feet Tall
For sunny or partially shaded sites near your wall, the little mugo pine (Pinus mugo var. pumilo) blocks the view with its dense green needles. This evergreen is hardy in USDA zones 2 to 9 and grows well in deep, rich soil. The glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), a semi-evergreen, has lustrous foliage that turns reddish in fall. Hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, this non-toxic shrub grows well in dry or clay soil and tolerates harsh pruning. The glossy abelia grows to 6 feet tall and wide and blooms with white-pink flowers from early summer through late fall.
Deciduous Shrubs More Than 8 Feet Tall
Your kids will love watching the colorful butterflies drawn to the fragrant flowers of the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). A deciduous shrub that grows to 10 feet tall with an 8-foot spread, the butterfly bush blooms with tall panicles of purple, white, yellow and pink blossoms from summer through autumn. It's hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 and grows well in sunny, moist sites. Butterfly bush has a tendency to spread aggressively if left unchecked; keep yours under control by deadheading flowers in fall, pulling up any seedlings and keeping clippings off the ground where they can easily take root. For more flowers, the rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) blooms from summer through fall with large, single flowers in a range of colors, from white to purple. This 10-foot-tall shrub has dark foliage that turns yellow in fall. Plant the rose-of-Sharon in USDA zones 5 to 8 in well-draining, moist sites.
Evergreen Shrubs More Than 8 Feet Tall
For an airy screening effect, plant lemon bottlebrush shrubs (Callistemon citrinus). These evergreens thrive in warm, sunny and dry sites in USDA zones 8b to 11. Reaching heights to 15 feet with a similar spread, these finely textured shrubs bloom with yellow flowers and have bright-green foliage that smells of citrus. For those shady Northern exposures, plant a camellia (Camellia japonica). This evergreen is prized for its showy flowers; it blooms in winter or spring with red, pink and white blossoms and has lustrous, dark foliage year-round. Hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9, this shade-loving shrub grows up to 15 feet tall and prefers moist, acidic soil.