Even if you live next to the nicest people on the block, making your backyard private is still important. Wooden or metal fencing will always do this task, but planting tall, fast-growing trees is a nicer way to keep people out of your space. When planted close together, evergreen, cypress, flowering, and other types of privacy trees make a lush green fence, or “living wall,” between your property and your neighbor’s.
Find out which USDA Hardiness zone you live in (you can do that here) to choose trees that can survive the winters in your area. Then, think about how big your space is. For example, a small backyard might need a tall, narrow tree like an Italian Cypress, while a bigger area might need a tree with a wider reach, like a Weeping Willow. Keep in mind that all of the trees on this list grow pretty quickly. Some grow three feet each year until they reach their full size. Because of this, you’ll need to keep the trees pruned and spaced out, so they don’t get too close together.
Here are some of the best trees for privacy, including what they need to grow and how to take care of them.
List of 10 Best Privacy Trees
1. Colorado blue spruce trees
The Colorado blue spruce trees, which grow to around 8 feet tall and have blue, pine needle-like foliage that becomes tightly packed in a pyramid shape, provide year-round appeal and are well suited to small gardens.
‘It is a very hardy tiny tree that will grow in most soils, except dry soils; it is also preferable to avoid full exposure,’ advise Ornamental Trees’ specialists.
This slow-growing evergreen can be mixed with faster-growing evergreens and serves as a great foil for other plants.
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2. Holm oak (quercus ilex)
‘Holm oak is an excellent choice for evergreen screening or year-round interest,’ say the specialists at Ornamental Trees. It’s also known as the holly oak because of its leathery, serrated holly-like leaves, and it’s just as resilient and robust. According to the authors, it can endure exposure and is salt-tolerant, making it excellent for use as an evergreen windbreak in coastal gardens.
3. Red Robin
In the spring and summer, this gorgeous evergreen has red, glossy leaves that mature to lush dark green foliage in the fall, making it ideal for privacy and screen, and color.
It can grow to be 13 feet (4 meters) tall with a similar spread, although it can be cut to a reduced size. The red robin is a fully hardy plant that enjoys the sun but can thrive in the shade. It produces masses of white flowers in the summer if left unpruned.
4. Hornbeam (carpinus betulus)
Hornbeam is a popular deciduous screening tree with fresh green leaves in the spring and golden yellow leaves in the fall. ‘Depending on how exposed to the wind it is, hornbeam preserves a proportion of its old leaves on its branches during the spring, creating a stronger screening effect,’ say the experts. This resilient plant can be grown in the sun or the shade and tolerates a wide range of soil types.
5. Western red cedar (thuja plicata)
‘The highly branched evergreen conifer Western red cedar is an excellent tree for screening,’ say the experts at Practicality Brown.
Its dark, olive-green leaves turn bronze in the winter, and when crushed, the foliage emits a delightful, fruity perfume. Although they have a slower growth rate than leylandii, they are popular as ideal trees for privacy. They also provide noise and wind protection, making them excellent for screening trees alongside a road.
6. Holly (ilex aquifolium)
Holly is a classic evergreen with thorny leaves that make a fantastic tree for privacy and safety. Although it effectively keeps intruders out, it welcomes animals in and can provide shelter for many of your backyard’s bird visitors.
Ilex aquifolium yields red or orange winter berries on free-draining normal, clay, or chalk soils, making it a popular choice for Christmas leaf arrangements and perfect for planning a winter garden. In the spring, these are replaced with little white flowers. There are hollies with gorgeous variegated leaves, such as ‘Argentea marginata,’ with wonderful silver edges tinted with pink, and ‘Myrtifolia Aurea maculates,’ with yellow edges.
7. Cherry laurel (prunus laurocerasus)
Because of its upright and bushy appearance, cherry laurel is one of the greatest trees for screening and seclusion. It is a vigorous spreading evergreen with glossy, dark green leaves.
It also has some seasonal appeal, with little white flowers in the spring and cherry-like red fruits in the fall. This tree, which prefers slightly acidic soil, can reach 26 feet (8 meters) and prefers sun to shade. ‘The cherry laurel is also available in the pleached form, which is great for screening in tiny gardens,’ say the experts at Practicality Brown.
Although officially a grass, evergreen bamboo’s bigger, woody types seem more like trees and are excellent for screening and seclusion. ‘Bamboo is a robust, easy-to-grow plant. It also fills the need for tall but thin, which few other plants can do without regular trimming for space-constrained gardeners,’ says gardening expert Leigh Clapp.
Bamboo is a fast-growing, resilient plant that adds movement and an oriental feel to your yard. ‘Pick clump-forming kinds like Fargesia robusta rather than ones that send out invasive runners,’ says Leigh.
9. Italian cypress
The robust Italian cypress is one of the greatest trees for shielding towering buildings in the back of your yard and giving it a wonderful Mediterranean garden vibe.
These tall, slender beauties are among the greatest trees for screening if your garden is visible to the neighbors with its dense foliage. They are very easy to grow and only require occasional cutting to maintain their shape. They can grow up to three feet every year, reaching 70 feet (20 meters).
10. English yew, or common yew
The English yew is the quintessential evergreen tree, often known as the common yew. It’s elegant and long-lived, and if pruned in the early spring, it rejuvenates itself quite well,’ say the experts at Practicality Brown.
Taxus baccata, one of the greatest trees for privacy and mass planting to create hedges, can grow around 40 feet (12 meters) tall. It prefers well-draining soil and can endure both sun and shade. Some types also yield little red berries, a favorite food source for wildlife.
Trees that make ideal privacy screens are easy to grow, hardy, and tolerant of many soils and climates. You don’t want to choose privacy trees that require a lot of care, but rather ones that are self-sufficient for most of the year and only need pruning now and then to maintain them in shape. Choose an evergreen that will not drop its leaves, has dense foliage, and will survive when planted near together, as you will be seeking privacy all year. You can, however, mix in a few deciduous plants for added color and seasonal interest. The finest & best privacy trees and screening should reach at least 8 feet, and there are many choices given above.