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Privacy Trees

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Privacy Trees

Many homeowners struggle with privacy in their gardens, whether that’s due to neighbors having a clear view of their patio or a busy street nearby. Privacy trees are a popular solution to this problem, as they not only help to create a relaxing environment away from prying eyes, but also add interest to the surrounding landscape by blocking unsightly views. Privacy trees can also be used as windbreaks to shield your garden from extreme weather, as well as dampen noise from traffic.

There’s no single tree that’s best when it comes to creating privacy, so homeowners have a wealth of choices when it comes to creating a screen or barrier between their private space and the outside world. Privacy trees come in a wide range of different species and sizes, meaning that there’s bound to be one to suit your needs.

Types of Privacy Trees

Almost any tree will provide a certain level of privacy in your garden, but some are better suited to the job than others. To find the best trees for privacy, you’ll need to think about your individual circumstances, such as the space you have available, your local climate, and your privacy needs.

If you’re looking to grow privacy trees to replace an existing wall or fence, you could also consider planting a privacy hedge. Hedges are popular amongst homeowners who want a smaller privacy screen due to limited space, or would simply prefer something more structured.

The four main types of plants used for privacy screens are:

· Evergreen Conifers (e.g. Pine, Cedar, Cypress, Thuja Green Giant)
· Broad-Leaf Evergreens (e.g. Nellie Stevens Holly, American Holly)
· Deciduous Trees (e.g. Tri Color Willow)
· Bamboos

Choosing Privacy Trees

When choosing a specific species of tree, there are lots of things to consider. Keep in mind the following factors before buying and planting your trees.

Growth Rate

It’s often a good idea to choose fast-growing trees when it comes to privacy, especially if you want an effective screen in place as soon as possible. Fast-growing privacy trees can create a barrier between you and your neighbors very quickly, even if you buy smaller trees to start off with. For example, Willow hybrids can grow up to 10 feet in a single year, with Leyland Cypress averaging 4 feet and the Thuja Green Giant growing around 3 feet.

Hardiness

Some trees are better able to withstand adverse weather conditions or are more tolerant to frost. This is something you need to keep in mind if you live in a climate that has extreme temperatures. Emerald Green Thuja’s are a great choice for those living in colder areas, while Wax Myrtle and bamboo typically perform better in hotter locations.

Evergreen or Deciduous

Deciduous trees can be used as privacy screens, but they are less effective during the winter months when they have lost their leaves. However, if you won’t be using your garden much in winter, you may not mind this. An evergreen tree will provide a high level of privacy all year round, making them popular amongst homeowners looking to create a perimeter barrier. The main downside is that they also block out more light and may cause your garden to be darker than you’d like in the winter. To mitigate this, try to plant evergreen privacy trees to the north of your garden to minimize the long shadows they cast in winter. If this isn’t possible, plant them as far away from the spaces you use as possible.

Sun and Soil

Most privacy trees need to be grown in full sun, but some will also tolerate partial shade. It’s also important to think about the type of soil you have in your garden. While you can mitigate very poor soil with fertilizer, it’s best to choose a tree suited to the type of soil you have. Pay particular attention to drainage, as some trees are sensitive to poor draining soil, while others need soil that retains moisture as they are less drought tolerant.

Available Space

If you have a small garden, some privacy trees may take up too much room when they grow to full maturity. While it’s possible to control both the height and width of your trees with regular pruning, choosing a tree that is less likely to grow too big will make your privacy screen more manageable in the long run.

What are the Fastest-Growing Privacy Trees?

For most homeowners, fast-growing trees are important when creating a privacy screen. If you have an immediate need for privacy in your garden, it’s understandable not to want to wait for years to come before your shrubs grow to their full height. While it may be a year or two before your trees grow to their target height, the fastest-growing trees will provide you with more coverage in less time, meaning you can begin enjoying your outdoor space even if it’s not completely private yet.

Here at the Tree Center, we have a carefully chosen selection of sturdy, fast-growing varieties that will give you the right tree for every situation.

Top Fast-Growing Trees for Privacy

Common Name Botanical Mature Height Growth Rate Use This If
Thuja Green Giant Thuja standishii x plicata 20-40 ft. 3-5 ft. per year You need privacy fast and have deer on your property.
Leyland Cypress Cupressus × leylandii 40-60 ft. 3-5 ft. per year Deer aren’t an issue and you need a very tall screen.
Italian Cypress Cupressus sempervirens 30-40 ft. 2-3 ft. per year You live in the southern US and want an elegant, column-like look.
Nellie Stevens Holly Ilex ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ 15-25 ft. 2-3 ft. per year Need a wider bottom and enjoy winter red berry coloring.
Emerald Green Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ 8-12 ft. 6-9 in. per year Live in colder regions. Deer aren’t an issue. Stops growing at 10ft.

How to Plant Privacy Trees

Most homeowners want to create a dense screen with their privacy trees, as large gaps can allow neighbors and passersby to see into your garden. The exact amount of space you need to leave between each tree will depend on the type of trees you’ve chosen and their starting size. Always consider the width that your tree will grow to and leave a little bit less space in between each tree than your spread. For example, trees that grow to be 10 feet wide should be placed 4 feet apart.

Privacy trees can be planted as a single or staggered double row. Staggered double rows typically produce the densest privacy screens and are popular amongst homeowners creating windbreak barriers as well. Plant your first row of trees and then position the row behind so that the trees are adjacent to the spaces in the first row. This way, there will be minimal gaps for anyone to see through.

How to Care for Privacy Trees

A lot of privacy trees are low maintenance, especially if you plan to let them grow to their full height. However, if you prefer a neater, uniform look and want to ensure your trees continue to grow healthily with dense foliage, you’ll need to prune their branches occasionally – usually once or twice a year. Even if your tree is still growing, it’s important to cut away dead branches and encourage new growth.

Even if you’d like your privacy trees to grow to their full height, it’s important to remember that there may be height restrictions in up-built areas. This is even more likely to be the case if you’re planting a privacy screen on a boundary that you share with a neighbor. Always consult with those who live nearby if your trees are likely to affect their enjoyment of their garden, or are going to be replacing a shared fence or hedge.

FAQs

How far apart should I plant trees for privacy? Privacy trees must be spaced properly. Your spacing will depend on how wide your privacy trees will grow and the size they are when they’re planted. A good rule of thumb is to make the space between trees just under half the tree’s final width. This means that trees that will be 8 feet wide should be spaced around 3 feet apart. To ensure these gaps don’t compromise your privacy, plant your trees in a double staggered row.

Are bamboo trees good for privacy? Yes, bamboo can make great privacy screens. They should be planted densely and are typically better for smaller hedges rather than tall screens. Bamboo also grows quickly, which is always a plus when making an outdoor space private. Some homeowners pair bamboo with other trees for privacy to create a denser screen and fill in any gaps.

Do privacy trees increase property value? Privacy trees can increase the value of a property, especially if they’re healthy and fully established. Consider how well your chosen privacy trees fit in with your garden’s overall landscape and make sure they don’t overpower the space available, as this could put some potential buyers off.

How fast do privacy trees grow? This depends on the type of privacy trees you plant. In general, most trees recommended for privacy tend to have a speedy growth rate, but some will grow more quickly than others. You could see between 10 and 3 feet of growth per year depending on the species you choose.

What evergreen trees are good for privacy? Evergreen trees are a popular choice when it comes to privacy, as they retain their dense green foliage in every season. Some popular evergreens to use as privacy trees include the Thuja Green Giant, Pine, Cypress, and Cedar trees.

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