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Outdoor living

The BEST Privacy Trees You Can Easily Plant In Your Yard

 (modified Oct 26, 2022)

Privacy trees can transform your backyard into the private oasis you’ve always wanted. Whether you love your neighbors or not, we all want a space where we can sit with family and friends without prying eyes watching our every move. One of the best ways to achieve this is with border trees that not only give you that privacy but also add a touch of style to your yard as well. Read on for our thoughts on the best trees for yard privacy and other great alternatives as well.

What Types of Trees Grow Fast for Privacy?

The problem with using privacy trees is that it takes time for them to grow and provide you with the solitude you’re looking for. There are some trees that grow faster than others though, so it’s just a matter of choosing the right ones for the job. How do you know which privacy trees are fast-growing and which ones take a long time to reach the heights you need? We’ve done that research for you.

Red Cedar as Privacy Trees

As it happens there are a number of trees that are fast-growing and ideal as privacy trees. Here are our main recommendations for the best barrier trees:

Top 8 Trees That Are BEST For Privacy

  • Eastern Red Cedar — Maximum height of 60 feet and width of 20 feet, ideal for mid to large-sized yards
  • Leyland Cyprus Tree — Maximum height of 70 feet and width of 30 feet, best for larger yards
  • Sky Pencil Holly — Maximum height 10 feet and width of 2 feet, a great choice for smaller yards that require yard privacy
  • Italian Cypress Tree — Maximum height of 40 feet and width 10 feet, a nice privacy tree for mid-sized yards
  • Goldspire Ginkgo — Maximum height of 16 feet and width of 6 feet, good border trees for yard privacy in smaller yards
  • Thuja Green Giant — Maximum height of 40 feet and width of 8 feet, nice privacy trees for bigger yards
  • Emerald Green Arborvitae — Maximum height of 14 feet and width of 4 feet, a smaller cousin of the Thuja Green Giant and great for small yards
  • Spartan Juniper — Maximum height of 15 feet and width of 5 feet, a great tree for both hot and cold climates and a good choice for small to medium-sized yards

Best Methods For Planting Privacy Trees

When planting trees for privacy, there are two methods you can choose from to get the most of your space. The first option is to plant the trees in a single row. If you're planting a tree sapling, you'll need to account for how large they will get when they are fully grown. For medium to larger trees, like Emerald Green, Thuja Green Giant or Leyland Cypress, you'll need to account for roughly 5 feet of space between each sapling

The second option is two alternate the trees diagnoally. Alternating the trees mean you'll need to have a space of roughly 7 feet of space between the trees.

View the graphic below for a simple to follow visual on how you can plant your privacy trees!

How to plant privacy trees

Growth Rate of Privacy Trees

Part of what makes some trees so great for privacy screens, is that they have a relatively quick growth rate.

  • The Emerald Green has an average growth rate of 1-2 feet per year.
  • Leyland Cypress grows at an average rate of 3 feet per year.
  • The Thuja Green Giant has a growth rate of 3-6 feet per year, which makes it one of the fastest growing trees for your backyard! They also happen to be fairly low maintenance once they've taken root and start growing.

What are Plant Hardiness Zones?

A plant's hardiness zone is a concept that is used to determine which climate is the best to grow a particular plant in. There are different temperatures across the country and some plants thrive in certain temperature ranges. Each zone represents a climate and that's what the Department of Agriculture uses to determine if a plant will grow in that location. It's important to know which zone you're located in to choose the best trees for privacy so that they actually grow.

The leyland cypress has a hardiness zone of 6-10 which means it grows well in the mid to south parts of the US. Green giant has a hardiness zone of 5-9, which makes it perfect for most states. Evergreen trees work well year round in colder zones in the northern part of the country.

Check out the hardiness zone map below, courtesy of Chestnut Hill Nursery!

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Which Trees Make for Good Yard Privacy Trees?

Whatever task you’re taking on around the home there are always going to be different options and ways of going about it. While there may not be one right choice for everyone, some ideas, methods and selections are better than others.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to selecting border trees that provide you and your family with all of the yard privacy you need. You'll want to think about fast growing trees, nobody wants to wait forever for some privacy in their yard. You will also want to consider whether the trees are low maintenance as this takes less work to ensure your privacy screen is well and doing its job. Landscaping the area around your privacy trees will add to the beauty of your backyard.

There are many great solutions, but the Eastern Red Cedar is our number one choice as a privacy tree for your yard if you have a larger yard and the Sky Pencil Holly is our suggestion for smaller yards. We like the Eastern Red Cedar for larger yards because of how well it fills out and because it can tolerate extreme temperatures. Another few options for larger yards are emerald green trees and leyland cypress. They can be cost effective and grow in most temperature zones in the country. They also don't require a whole lot of maintenance once they've taken root.

The reason we chose the Sky Pencil Holly as our choice for the best privacy tree for small yards is because you can space them close together and at a height of between 8 and 10 feet they provide a nice privacy screen. They can also thrive in most climates, doing well in temperatures as low as -10?. If you aren’t sure what the temperature range is for your area, check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for guidance and a full breakdown. The zones can be found by zip code, so if you're not sure about which zone you're located in, just enter your zip code into the map's search bar.

Privacy Trees covering front yard

What Can I Plant to Block the Neighbors View?

While trees are the best choice for many homeowners that are looking to create a border of trees for yard privacy, they’re not the only option. There are several species of shrubs and bushes that can do a great job as well.

If you want to plant bushes that can block the neighbors view, the American Holly is a great choice, so are the Red Twig Dogwood and Canadian Hemlock. There are countless others and the best choice of privacy trees or shrubs will have a lot to do with your own personal tastes and the environment you live in.

Regardless of the privacy trees you end up choosing, you'll likely need a dumpster to haul away all the organic waste from your tree planting.

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