5 Best Privacy Trees

Creating a natural barrier with privacy trees is a popular and aesthetically pleasing way to create a sense of seclusion in one's outdoor space. These living walls provide an organic solution to screen out unwanted views and reduce noise, while simultaneously enhancing the beauty of the landscape.

When choosing the best trees for privacy, factors such as growth rate, maintenance, and seasonal behavior are important. Some trees grow quickly, offering a fast way to establish privacy, while others are valued for their year-round foliage and low maintenance.

It's beneficial to consider the ultimate height and width of the tree, as well as its sunlight and watering requirements, to ensure the selected species will thrive and fulfill the intended purpose.

Benefits of Privacy Trees

Privacy trees excel in creating secluded outdoor environments from prying eyes. They are an eco-friendly alternative to fences and walls, harmonizing with the landscape while delivering the following advantages:

  • Noise Reduction: Their foliage acts as a buffer against urban clamor.
  • Windbreaks: They can shield delicate flora and outdoor spaces from harsh winds.
  • Shade: Strategically planted, they provide cooling shade and lower temperatures.

Distinctive Characteristics of Privacy Trees

Trees that are utilized for privacy typically display certain definitive characteristics that contribute to their suitability for the task:

  • Growth Rate: Most privacy trees, such as Thuja Green Giant and Leyland Cypress, grow rapidly, approximately 3-5 feet per year.
  • Foliage: They possess dense foliage, essential for obstructing visibility.
  • Height and Width: Many species can reach significant heights of 30-40 feet with considerable width, offering extensive coverage.
  • Tolerance: A good privacy tree adapts to a variety of soil conditions and withstand environmental stress.

5 Best Privacy Trees Based on Popularity

1. Leyland Cypress

Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) - Pulled Nursery

Leyland Cypress is a conifer with densely packed, bright emerald green foliage.

It is a fast grower, growing up to 3 feet per year and makes an excellent privacy hedge. It is an elegant shrub that can be used as garden walls, shaped in estate planters, or used as a privacy screen. 

It is a hardy specimen and tolerant of most soil types.

2. Arborvitae

Emerald Green Arborvitae - Thuja Emerald Green - Pulled Nursery
The Emerald Green Arborvitae, Thuja Emerald Green, is a popular evergreen shrub with vigorous growth and an eye-catching, bright-green foliage.

Its dense foliage is low-maintenance and provides excellent privacy and noise reduction. Perfect for most landscapes, this shrub grows up to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

3. Wax Myrtle

Pacific Wax Myrtle - Myrica californica
Pacific Wax Myrtle is a powerhouse evergreen shrub that produces glossy green foliage and small, white berries that are edible and often used medicinally.

It is drought tolerant, grows quickly and has high deer resistance, making it an excellent choice for gardeners.


4. Thuja Green Giant

Thuja Green Giant - Pulled Nursery

Thuja Green Giants are large, dense, and pyramidal with a rich green hue in spring and summer and a darker, bronzer shade in winter.

Their tiny, glossy, scale-like leaves are packed tightly together and overlap, creating a fan of foliage. Mature Height & Spread: 10-15' x 3-4'

5. Privet

Waxleaf Privet (Ligustrum japonicum ‘Texanum’) - Pulled Nursery

Wax leaf privet is also amazing as a hedge and requires less maintenance than most other hedges, which is why Wax Leaf Privet  is used as a shrub between homes, as a privacy hedge or windbreak. If you live near busy streets, you will appreciate its excellent sound barrier features as well. Great for mass planting, you will often see the wax leaf privet shaped into pyramid forms for topiary gardens flanking walkways.

Pulled offers healthy and vibrant Wax Leaf Privet 'Texanum' shrubs for your landscape. If you need help with placement ideas or need to schedule a landscape design consultation, we're just a click away. 

Growth rate is approximately 2 feet per year; at maturity they can reach a height and width between 10-15+ feet.

Choosing the Right Privacy Trees

When selecting privacy trees, one must consider the tree's type, growth rate, and adaptability to local conditions. The right choice ensures a lush and effective privacy screen for years to come.

Evergreen vs. Deciduous Trees

Evergreen trees retain their leaves year-round, providing consistent privacy and a steady green backdrop. In contrast, deciduous trees shed their leaves seasonally but often offer a faster growth rate and a variety of seasonal color changes.

Considerations for Tree Size and Growth Rate

One should choose a tree with a size and growth rate that aligns with their space constraints and desired time to maturity. Fast-growing species like the Thuja Green Giant can increase in height by three to five feet annually, demanding more frequent pruning but achieving quicker privacy.

Soil Type and Climate Adaptability

Trees should match the soil type and climate of the area for optimal growth. A tree's suitability is often indicated by its USDA hardiness zone rating. For instance, Spartan Junipers thrive in a range of soil types and are hardy across several zones, making them versatile for many landscapes.

Maintenance and Ease of Pruning

Maintenance requirements can vary widely between tree species. Some trees, like privet, can grow two to three feet per year and require regular pruning to maintain shape and health. Low-maintenance trees may be more suitable for those seeking an ease of maintenance in their privacy landscaping.

Tree Care and Planting Tips

Selecting privacy trees for one's yard is just the first step; ensuring their health and longevity requires understanding how to plant and maintain them properly. This section will delve into best practices for planting, maintenance, and disease management.

Optimal Planting Practices

When planting privacy trees, one should consider the soil type and hardiness zone as these factors significantly influence tree growth and survival. Trees such as the Thuja Green Giant thrive in well-draining soil and perform best in USDA hardiness zones 5-9. They require full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

For optimal growth, trees should be planted in the early spring or fall to avoid temperature extremes during establishment.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Regular maintenance is critical for the health of privacy trees. Consistent watering, especially for the first couple of years, helps establish a strong root system.

Pruning is essential to maintain shape and promote denser foliage; however, timing and technique vary by species. For example, the Privet benefits from frequent trimming to form a tight hedge, while others may only need occasional pruning to remove dead or diseased branches.

Disease Prevention and Treatment

Disease-resistant varieties such as the Thuja Green Giant can minimize the likelihood of problems, but vigilance remains key. One should inspect their trees often for signs of stress or disease, such as unusual leaf discoloration or dieback.

Implementing proper treatment promptly, be it through pruning diseased portions or applying fungicides, can prevent the spread of disease and keep trees robust. Soil quality and moisture levels should also be monitored to avoid conditions that favor disease development.

Landscape Design With Privacy Trees

Incorporating privacy trees into a landscape design enhances backyard privacy and creates natural screens. Both aesthetic appeal and functionality are essential when selecting the right plants for a privacy fence.

Strategic Placement for Optimal Privacy

The strategic placement of privacy trees is crucial for maximizing seclusion.

For instance, Leyland cypress can grow up to 60 to 70 feet tall, with a spread of 15 to 20 feet. They should be placed to provide a year-round green screen without overshadowing smaller plants. Meanwhile, for smaller yards, flowering dogwood trees, with a more compact growth habit, can create a privacy screen closer to the house.

  • Water Requirements: Regular watering during establishment.
  • Light Requirements: A minimum of four hours of direct sunlight.
  • Growth Rate: Leyland cypress can grow 2 to 3 feet per year; Thuja Green Giant grows three to five feet once established.

Complementary Plants and Trees

When designing a landscape with privacy trees, one should consider the integration of complementary plants and trees.

Ornamental trees like dogwood can be underplanted with lower-growing shrubs, creating a layered effect. For diversity, mix evergreens with flowering bushes; this not only enhances aesthetics but also provides habitat for wildlife.

  • Flowering bushes: Add seasonal color and contrast.
  • Evergreen shrubs: Ensure year-round coverage.

Creating a Natural Privacy Fence

Privacy trees can effectively create a natural fence, marking property lines and reducing noise.

A combination of trees like the fast-growing bamboo can quickly establish a dense barrier. Plant them in a staggered pattern to form a thick green wall. However, consider bamboo's invasiveness and potential need for containment.

Special Considerations

When selecting privacy trees, one should consider more than just growth rate and final height.

Special considerations such as environmental impact, water needs, and seasonal changes are crucial for making an informed decision.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

When planting privacy trees, sustainability and environmental impact are significant concerns.

Evergreen trees are often more sustainable as they require less frequent replanting than deciduous trees.

Choosing native species favors local ecosystems and wildlife, offering a habitat and food source.

For instance, planting drought-tolerant evergreens can reduce the need for watering and lower the environmental footprint.

Dealing With Droughts

Drought-tolerant trees are essential in regions with low rainfall as they ensure a consistent privacy screen without straining water resources.

Trees with dense foliage can still be drought-resistant.

For example, some species of conifers and broadleaf evergreens, like the Cherry Laurel, can withstand dry spells once established, reducing the need for irrigation.

Seasonal Changes and Foliage Color

The appeal of a privacy screen can change with the seasons, especially with deciduous trees that lose their leaves in fall.

While they may provide dense foliage in the summer, they offer little privacy in winter.

On the other hand, evergreen trees maintain their leaves all year round, offering uninterrupted privacy.

It's worth noting the foliage color as some evergreens like the Thuja Green Giant exhibit a lush, dark green throughout the year, which can enhance aesthetic appeal.

Additional Privacy Options

While trees are a great option for privacy, there are additional methods and plant types that can contribute to a seclusive environment.

These alternatives can complement privacy trees or stand alone depending on the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner.

Alternative Plant Types

For those seeking variety or have space constraints, incorporating a diverse range of bushy evergreens and flowering shrubs can offer considerable seclusion.

Hydrangeas and lilacs are known for their dense foliage and can create a visually appealing barrier.

Viburnums are another excellent choice, often appreciated for their robustness and ability to thrive in various conditions.

Rhododendrons, with their large leaves and beautiful blooms, provide a thick screen and are effective as a privacy option.

For those desiring a burst of color, flowering dogwoods or crabapples might be a perfect fit.

Not only do they create a visual block with their branches and leaves, but they also add an aesthetic charm.

In warmer regions, a fragrant tea olive could be a valuable addition, presenting both privacy and a pleasant scent.

The rose of Sharon, with its wide-reaching branches, contributes to a private vibe while making an area feel more enclosed.

Structural Additions for Enhanced Seclusion

Trellises and pergolas can be strategically placed to supplement plant-based privacy screens.

When adorned with climbing plants or vines, these structures can significantly increase the level of seclusion in an outdoor space.

  • Trellises: Often used in conjunction with climbing plants like ivy or roses, they offer a customizable vertical barrier that can fit into narrow spaces.
  • Pergolas: These can provide overhead privacy, particularly when combined with hanging plants or creeping vines that can curtain off the sides.

By integrating these structural elements, homeowners can achieve an immediate layer of privacy that will evolve and become more robust as the plants mature.

Consider the combination of these structures with plants like birch or dogwood, which can offer additional screening at varying heights and create a dynamic, layered approach to privacy.

Final Thoughts on Privacy Trees

Choosing the right privacy trees is essential for homeowners looking to create a secluded haven in their landscape.

Cedar and cypress trees are among the most favored for their robust growth and enduring foliage, providing a dense barrier against prying eyes.

These trees should be selected based on their growth rate, mature height, and adaptability to the local environment.

It is imperative to consider the required maintenance and potential size of the trees to ensure they fit within the landscape without becoming overwhelming.

  • Cedar Trees: Known for their sturdiness and appealing scent, they are a standout choice for privacy. Cedar trees will serve as a long-lasting shield, able to withstand various climates.

  • Cypress Trees: Often chosen for their elegant, columnar form, cypress trees can reach significant heights, forming an impressive green screen.

One should plant these trees in a location with adequate sunlight to encourage healthy growth, referring to USDA Growing Zone specifics when possible.

A well-planned arrangement of privacy trees can enhance the aesthetics of the landscape while fulfilling their primary function.

Moreover, integrating a mix of tree types can introduce textural variety and year-round color.

Regular care such as trimming not only contributes to a tree’s health but also ensures a neat, intentional appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the right trees for privacy is essential for creating a secluded and serene environment. The following questions address common concerns for homeowners looking to enhance their landscape with privacy trees.

What are the top recommended trees to ensure privacy in residential areas?

The Thuja Green Giant is highly recommended for residential privacy due to its fast growth rate of three to five feet per year and minimal sunlight requirements.

Leyland Cypress is also a top choice, offering rapid growth and a dense habit.

Which trees are best suited for creating privacy in front yard landscaping?

Spartan Junipers are suitable for front yard privacy, providing a classic appearance while forming an excellent privacy shield. Their moderate height doesn't overwhelm the landscape and they are robust enough for most front yard conditions.

Which fast-growing trees are most effective for privacy and suitable for planting in full sun?

The Leyland Cypress thrives in full sun and grows quickly, up to 3-4 feet per year, making it an effective option for full-sun environments.

Fast-growing Thuja Green Giant also performs well in full sun and provides robust privacy.

What are some affordable and rapidly maturing tree options for backyard privacy?

For affordable and rapid growth, the Thuja Green Giant remains a practical choice due to its affordability and substantial annual growth.

Leyland Cypress trees are similarly cost-effective for quickly establishing a private backyard space.

Can you recommend privacy trees that remain under 10 feet in height?

For properties requiring shorter trees, certain yew species can be pruned to maintain heights under 10 feet while still contributing dense foliage for privacy.

Spartan Junipers also offer a compact option that remains manageable in size.

What are the best plants to use for a privacy screen that maintains coverage throughout the year?

Evergreen trees like the Thuja Green Giant or yew trees are ideal for year-round coverage due to their persistent foliage.

These species ensure continuous privacy regardless of the season.

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