A chain link fence is an inexpensive and low maintenance way to protect your property or keep your pets and children safe. However, it doesn't add much in the way of privacy for your yard. A great way to fix this is to plant bushes along the fence line. Over the next few years, they will grow up into a nice, visual barrier without requiring a lot in the way of maintenance or putting a burden on your budget.
One of the most common choices for living fences are evergreen trees that have been bred to stay small and be planted close together. Since most bushes loose their leaves in winter just like trees, this will definitely be the route you want to take if your goal is to maintain the same level of privacy year-round. Their thick foliage has an added benefit-- evergreen shrubs also some of the best noise reducers of any of these options.
While there are a few varieties of evergreens that can be trained into a hedge, the various breeds of arborvitae trees are best suited to this purpose. There are plenty of different options depending on how close knit you want the trees, how wide you want them to be, and how tall you want your living privacy fence to get. American arborvitaes make a good catch-all choice, as they grow as small or as large as you would like depending on how close together you plant them and what size you prune them into. While this is somewhat true of any evergreen hedge, many varieties won't thrive if you need to plant them close together or trim them extra thin to fit within your space.
If you are looking to add some beauty to your yard along with a screen from prying eyes, flowering shrubs are the way to go. While most varieties don't have the tight branches needed for sharply lined pruning, they do have their own elegance in the way of clusters of fragrant blossoms. If your goal is to pair a low maintenance shrub with your low maintenance fence, this is a great option.
Just as arborvitaes are the kings of evergreen hedges, lilacs may take the prize for a flowering shrub that can be molded to your whim. If you are willing to put in the effort, you can even weave the young stems through the fence itself to create a layer of plant life that is only a few inches thick. If you are patient, you don't even need to spend money on a large number of plants-- lilacs will send up new canes where ever you let them. Given several years to establish and spread, a few bushes can easily cover a good amount of distance.
The downside of using shrubs for privacy is that they can take quite awhile to give you the dense foliage you want, especially if you are planting the bushes several feet apart. If you want something that will give you coverage in just a few years, you should look into plants that will grow quickly and spread on their own. Forsythia, hydrangea, and some kinds of dogwoods all fit this category quite nicely. Of course, the downside to this is that they will require more maintenance if you want to keep them in a confined space.
There are other options for adding privacy to your chain link fence, but none of them offer the beauty that bushes can. Depending on the type of bushes you choose, you may not even have to do any additional maintenance to your fence line to keep everything looking great.