Plants for screening neighbors

Summer brings longer days, warmer nights and more time to relax outdoors in your backyard. But there are few things more annoying than having your peace and quiet ruined by nosy (or noisy) neighbours.

The trend towards smaller block sizes and larger houses means the likelihood of having neighbours overlooking your private areas is increasing, and entertaining areas where people tend to be noisiest are in closer proximity.

Luckily, there are some handy solutions for blocking sight lines and even cutting out noise from the raucous residents next door so you can restore your backyard bliss.

Plants and screens can help block out nosy neighbours. Photo: Instants

Install a privacy screen

Depending on where your chosen relaxation area is situated, it’s possible to block sight lines using off-the-shelf or custom-built screens. Available in a range of materials, screens can also improve a backyard by creating zones for different activities.

Contemporary backyards will benefit from screens made from modern materials such as aluminium, or laser-cut steel or plastic, with various designs available to suit your space. You could also choose screens made from timber or lattice for a more traditional look, or natural options like bark and brushwood.

Laser-cut privacy screens suit modern homes. Photo: Supplied

Upgrade your fence

If low-boundary fences don’t provide enough privacy, consider upgrading to a higher fence. Check with your local council on the maximum height of fence allowed. In most states, fences under 1.8 metres high won’t require approval, providing they meet planning guidelines regarding styles and materials.

Keep in mind that the general rule is both neighbours need to contribute equally to the cost of a new fence, unless only one party prefers a higher quality fence than standard. In that case, the neighbour who wants the premium fence needs to fork out the extra cash to cover it.

If you want to keep your existing fence but need more privacy, you can install a fence topper. These panels can be selected to match your fence and add height to the boundary without the cost of building a new one.

Grow a natural barrier

A living screen not only prevents neighbours from peering in, but also adds a lush backdrop to your yard.

Although a dense tree canopy is ideal for blocking views, large trees can take decades to mature and roots can crack concrete, block pipes, destabilise fences and sap nutrients and water from garden beds. To provide screening, a hedge is a better solution.

One of the fastest-growing screening plants is bamboo. You can choose a variety that grows to your exact desired height, and small plants purchased from nurseries can provide screening in as little as six months, growing to full height in about two years.

Bamboo can quickly block out the neighbours, but it’s important to choose the right type. Photo: iStock

The resort-style ambience it adds to an outdoor area makes it an excellent option for screening. Slender weavers bamboo is a popular variety that grows to about six metres high.

Although bamboo has a bad reputation for invading garden beds and becoming impossible to remove, this is largely due to homeowners selecting the wrong variety for their yards.

For screening, choose clumping bamboo, as it has a neat upright growth habit and only sends new shoots up from the main growing clump. Avoid running bamboo, which sends out underground shoots and easily spreads into neighbouring yards.

A popular Australian native plant for screening is lilly pilly, as it forms a tidy hedge and grows up to two metres per year once established. In fact, there is even a variety called Neighbours-Be-Gone, known for its use as a screening plant.

Fast-growing conifers such as Leyland Cyprus are commonly used to create dense screens and hedges, although at up to 15 metres high, overshadowing can be an issue if trees aren’t pruned regularly.

Hedges are ideal for screening, but will require ongoing maintenance. Photo: iStock

Which plants are best for privacy screening?

  • Slender weavers bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’)
  • Lilly pilly (Syzygium smithii)
  • Photinia Red Robin (Photinia x fraseri)
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Song’
  • Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

How to block out noisy neighbours

With any luck, a dense hedge can cut out a lot of the noise associated with loud neighbours, but if the residents next door are particularly annoying, you’ll need to think outside the box.

A water feature will make it easier to deal with noisy neighbours, as even though it might not block out the sound completely, it will provide you with a more peaceful sound to concentrate on.

A water feature can drown out sounds from noisy neighbours. Photo: iStock

Wind chimes may have the same effect, although a lot of people tend to find them irritating. If you can stand them, perhaps your neighbours can’t, and will move their cacophony to another part of the house.

You could also be direct and politely let your neighbour know their noise is affecting your right to peace and quiet. It helps if you get to know your neighbour beforehand, as there is less chance they will take offence if the first thing you say to them isn’t to shut up.

If noise late at night or early in the morning is an ongoing issue, each state has its own noise restrictions, as well as guidelines for mediation.

Australian Native Plants

Hedges | Screens | Ground Covers | Strappy Leaf | Grasses | Flowers | Trees | Browse by Name

Australian native plants are the obvious choice for Australian gardens; they’ve grown in harmony with the Australian climate and conditions for millennia. And Ozbreed has used the most up-to-date technology to improve their growth and flowering characteristics even further.

We’ve put together this ultimate Australian native plants guide to help you choose the best plants for your needs.

Whether you’re looking for native hedging plants, screen plants, ground cover, dense shrubs, flowering plants to attract native birds and bees, plants that respond well to pruning or anything else you need, Ozbreed have the perfect plant.

Growing Australian Native Plants

It makes good sense to choose Australian native plants for your garden because they are generally:

  • Hardy
  • Drought resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Disease resistant
  • Beautiful

Australian native plants look great in mass plantings, as specimen trees, ground cover for weed control. Native plants often have striking forms and stunning flower displays that create powerful contrasts and variety in ornamental gardens or for lining driveways.

Australian natives are usually pretty easy to grow but you’ll always get the best results when you choose the right plant, right place – this Australian native plants list will inspire your gardening vision and help you choose the best plant for your needs.

Hedge Plants

Choosing the right hedging plant for your hedge is not always so straightforward.

Not only do you need to think about soil conditions, light, drought and frost occurrence but you also need to consider the space, growth habit, and maintenance requirements.

Ask yourself, do you want a box hedge, a hedge for defining a border or a hedge for privacy and security?

Westringia

Check out one of the many beautiful Westringia cultivars.

The popular Westringia varieties feature fast growing dense foliage with delicate mauve to blue flowers that are highly attractive to native birds.

Westringia are hardy, drought tolerant and cope with a wide range of environments and soil conditions including coastal. Westringia do really well with regular pruning and so they make an ideal choice for box or topiary hedging.

Ozbreed supply a large number of Westringia cultivars ranging from 30cm high x 70cm wide (suitable for box hedging) up to 2.2m high x 1.5m wide for privacy hedging.

See the full range of Westringia here.

Callistemon

Callistemon (bottlebrush) varieties are another good choice for hedging.

Ozbreed have a number of Callistemon cultivars that are ideal for different settings.

Callistemon are hardy, drought and frost resistant and their stunning flower displays will attract the native birds. Use them for screening, hedges or as a feature for tight planting areas.

They tolerate drought and frost but plant them in full sun to part shade. They suit most soil types. Ozbreed Callistemon varieties are highly resistant to Myrtle rust. They range in size from box hedging plants up to 3m high densely leaved hedge plants.

Many of the Callistemon range thrive on regular pruning. This means some of the larger varieties can be pruned to produce smaller tighter growth habits.

See the Callistemon range here.

Waterhousea

Waterhousea floribunda or Weeping Lilly pilly can grow to be a big tree but with regular pruning it will make extremely effective and attractive hedges.

Sweeper® Waterhousea floribunda — 10m high x 5 – 8m wide. Its elegant rippled leaves and delicate white flowers make this a stunning choice as a boundary hedging plant. Plant in full sun to part shade. It is drought and cold tolerant but avoid hot and dry inland areas.

Hibbertia

Hibbertia provide a great choice for smaller hedges and borders. Take a look at Ocean Reef™ Hibbertia spicata.

Ocean reef is a great choice for coastal regions and limestone soils.

  • A compact Hibbertia with very glossy leaves
  • A slow growing shrub that does not tend to spread—grows to 50cm high by 25cm wide
  • Yellow buttercup flowers in spring

Tips for screening

  • Diversify the plant material. Let’s say you plant a row of Leyland Cypress (please don’t, here’s why), and the bagworms show up and defoliate all of them. There goes your investment. If instead, you mixed the border with Leylands, hollies, magnolias, rhododendrons and the like, then the bagworms destroy a only portion of your privacy and investment. Replacement costs, if needed, are less and you still have some privacy wile waiting on new plants to grow in.

  • Plant multiple species in small groupings of three to five. Plant in a staggered or layered planting, not a row (if possible). This provides greater interest year round. If you don’t have room for a layered planting, and a row is all you can do, diversifying is still a better long-term choice.

  • Avoid cramming plants on top of each other. Allow individual plants enough sunlight and air circulation to grow and fill out. The inclination is to cram a lot of plants as tightly together as possible for greater coverage. This leads to multiple fungal and bacterial diseases due to less air and sunlight circulation. Plants pass diseases between them, reducing the lifespan of your screen. Extra patience is required to wait for plants to fill out, but you save money and trouble in the end. Replacing fully grown trees in the middle of a row of fully grown trees is no easy endeavor.

  • Remember your neighbors when planting. They will see the backside of your screen. Consider how to make it attractive from all sides.

  • Add shrubs and perennials to create a more natural border. A straight row of tall trees blocking the neighbors may be efficient but it looks unnatural and static. Use varying heights and textures and add plants that bloom or have berries for year-round interest. Ex: Thuja ‘Green Giant’, Magnolia ‘Little Gem’, Viburnum ‘Conoy’, Inkberry holly, azaleas, and rhododendrons.

  • Understand the cultural conditions of your site and the requirements of the plants. Ex: Magnolias will tolerate some shade, but too much shade and they provide a screen but no blooms. The same goes for camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. They may grow providing the needed evergreen, but will not bloom if shade is dense. Certain conifers can tolerate more shade than others. Japanese cedars work in a somewhat shady setting. ‘Green Giant’ arborvitaes need full sun to thrive, but can tolerate shade. The goal is to understand what you’re attempting. Don’t expect plants to perform as perfect specimens in less than ideal situations. Sometimes, we consider the only the functionality of the plant. Will it thrive in this part-sun setting (i.e. will it be full and lush, bloom, and grow quickly)? Or will it survive and meet the need or providing privacy (i.e. grow but not necessarily be a perfect specimen)? It’s important to know how much sun/shade you have and what the plant’s needs are before you buy.

  • Stand inside your home and look out your windows. Where is coverage most needed? Will one large spruce or magnolia do the job? Or a grouping in one or two areas? Mark the spots with an orange flag to remember where to plant.

  • Consider how quickly you need screening. Trees are characterized into slow (< 12″ yearly), medium (13″-24″ yearly) and fast (25″+ yearly) growth rates. Remember that sunlight exposure, soil conditions, drainage, fertility and other elements affect growth.

  • Stump grinding is necessary if you want to plant new trees. If the deciduous forest between you and your neighbor is full in summer but bare in winter, removing some trees to plant evergreens may be necessary. Be sure to budget for stump grinding when you calculate the cost of tree removal. Folks often skip this step to save dollars, but planting new trees in a mass of old roots is hard for the digger and the plant. For successful planting, the old roots should be gone, giving the new roots plenty of room to spread.

  • Plant for the mature size of the screen. What’s it going to look like in 5 years, 10 years, and so forth. Plants don’t stop growing, so while they may look just the right size when you plant them, remember they’re going to grow. Plan for the ultimate height and width.

Evergreen Privacy Screens

Plant Living Fences

Photo by Karen Bussolini

A line of evergreen trees or shrubs can provide year-round seclusion even better than a fence, because there are no municipal restrictions on how high they can grow. (Towns usually require permits for a fence over 6 feet tall.) However, if there are power lines above your screen, you don’t want trees so big that they’ll grow into the wires. Also pay attention to their width at maturity; the spacing between trunks when you plant should equal mature width. While the ideal growing conditions vary by species, one thing all these evergreens have in common is a love of the sun. Give them at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day and their foliage will remain full and keep your privacy intact.

Shown: For more information on the Green Giant arborvitae shown here, see the next slide.

Plant an Evergreen Screen

Muddy Creek Nursery

How to do it: Plant an evergreen screen on the north side

of your house to block winter winds. Arborvitae ‘Green

Giant’ can climb 3 feet in one year.

Estimated cost: $92 for two; Jackson & Perkins

Leyland Cypress

Photo by Mihaela Ninic/ Alamy

(x Cupressocyparis leylandii)

Foliage

Taking a broad to tapering form, this dense hybrid has smooth bark with dark green to grayish fans of foliage

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 70 feet high and 15 feet wide in zones 6 to 10

Spacing

15 feet

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Photo by KENPEI/ GFDL

(Juniperus scopulorum ‘Wichita Blue’)

Foliage

Bright blue-gray needles cover this shrub, which takes a pyramidal form with exfoliating red-brown bark

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 30 feet high and 6 feet wide in zones 3 to 7

Spacing

6 feet

Italian Cypress

Photo by Hans A. Rosbach/ GFDL-CC

(Cupressus sempervirens)

Foliage

A tall, narrow conifer, it forms a dense column of gray-green to dark green needles and upright branches

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 70 feet high and 20 feet wide in zones 7 to 10

Spacing

20 feet

White Spruce

Photo by Cruiser/ GDFL

(Picea glauca)

Foliage

This narrow, conical-shaped tree has stiff blue-green needles and gray-brown bark

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 60 feet high and 20 feet wide in zones 3 to 6

Spacing

20 feet

Hicksii Yew

Photo by mobot.org

(Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)

Foliage

The soft needles form a dense, dark green barrier, but can brown with exposure to winter winds

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 20 feet high and 12 feet wide in zones 4 to 7

Spacing

12 feet

American Holly

Photo by B. Christopher/ Alamy

(Ilex opaca)

Foliage

The soft needles form a dense, dark green barrier, but can brown with exposure to This narrow tree keeps its leathery, toothed dark green leaves year-round. Female specimens have white flowers and form red berries that attract birds

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 30 feet high and 40 feet wide in zones 5 to 9

Spacing

40 feet

Japanese Holly

Photo by Derek Ramsey/ Chanticleer Garden

(Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’)

Foliage

A narrow shrub with a pencil-like form, it has multiple stems covered in glossy dark green leaves. Small green-white flowers show up in spring

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 10 feet high and 3 feet wide in zones 6 to 8

Spacing

3 feet

Western Red Cedar

Photo by JFKCom/ GFDL

(Thuja plicata)

Foliage

A large tree with reddish-brown bark, it grows in a conical shape that broadens with age

Dimensions at Maturity

Reaches up to 70 feet high and 25 feet wide in zones 5 to 7

Spacing

25 feet

Techny Arborvitae

Photo by Flickr

(Thuja occidentalis ‘Techny’)

Foliage

This dwarfed, compact arborvitae keeps its color all winter

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 15 feet high and 10 feet wide in zones 2 to 8

Spacing

10 feet

Emerald Green Arborvitae

Photo by mobot.org

(Thuja occidentalis ‘Smargd’)

Foliage

This semidwarf shrub forms a compact, narrow pyramid of bright green foliage in flat fans

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up 14 feet high and 4 feet wide in zones 2 to 7

Spacing

4 feet

Eastern Red Cedar

Photo by USDA

(Juniperus virginiana)

Foliage

Broad, conical tree with horizontal branching covered in dark blue-green scale-like foliage and gray to reddish-brown exfoliating bark

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 65 feet high and 25 feet wide in zones 2 to 9

Spacing

25 feet

Nigra Arborvitae

Photo by <a href=”http://www.packsnursery.com/NigraArborvitae.html” target=”_blank”>Pack’s Nursery, Inc.</a>

(Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’)

Foliage

A conical or narrow pyramidal tree with flat, dark green needles

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide in zones 3 to 7

Spacing

10 feet

Smooth Cypress

Photo by blickwinkle/ Alamy

(Cupressus arizonica var. glabra)

Foliage

This drought-tolerant conifer has smooth, reddish-purple bark and pointed blue-gray needles

Dimensions at Maturity

Grows up to 50 feet high and 12 feet wide in zones 7 to 9

Spacing

12 feet

How to Choose the Best Privacy Trees

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September of 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

One of the many benefits homeowners enjoy is the outdoor living spaces that come along with property ownership. However, many of these yards lack privacy as they are too open and exposed to both neighbors or passerby. Without this sense of sanctuary and needed privacy many homeowners and their families may feel less inclined to spend quality time using in their yards.

On the other hand, when a yard is private and welcoming, it gets much more use. Homeowners and their families can enjoy their yards year round without feeling like their activities are on display. Without the constant feeling of being watched by neighbors or passersby, a family can make full and wonderful use of their outdoor spaces throughout the entire year no matter what the season.

To help address the lack of privacy many property owners put up fences or wall panels to increase security as well as privacy. But many times the look is stark and cold and with limited height it’s often not enough. In cases such as these, the best answer is to install privacy trees as a natural screen. There are numerous trees that make an excellent choice for privacy while softening the outdoor space with what is in effect a living green wall. Besides adding greatly to the sense of privacy to your home, a privacy tree buffer is naturally aesthetic way of framing outdoor rooms while mitigating sound and encouraging healthy biodiversity.

Table of Contents

  • Best Trees to Plant for Privacy (In order by fastest growing)
  • Best Privacy Shrubs
  • Benefits of Privacy Trees
  • Types of Privacy Trees
  • Choosing the Right Privacy Trees for Your Yard
  • Traditional Privacy Tree Arrangements
  • Purchasing Your Privacy Trees

There are countless deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs you can use for privacy. Some of them are ideal for creating short but full hedges, while others are better suited for achieving height. Here are some of the popular options for great trees for privacy:

Best Trees to Plant for Privacy (In order by fastest-growing)

  • Leyland Cypress: The Leyland cypress is a fast-growing and hardy evergreen tree used for privacy screens. It grows 3-5 feet per year and reaches a mature height of 50 feet, making it another one of the best tall trees for privacy.
  • Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae: If you’re looking to block second-story views, Thuja Green Giant is one of the best tall trees for privacy. This evergreen tree grows 3-5 feet per year. It forms a conical shape but provides dense foliage that stays a rich green color year-round.
  • Thuja Emerald Green Arborvitae: A cousin of the Green Giant, the Thuja Emerald is a smaller evergreen that grows up to 15 feet tall and only 4 feet wide. For smaller yards or narrow paths, the Thuja Emerald is an excellent low-maintenance option.
  • Nellie Stevens Holly: A hybrid of the Blue Holly and Chinese Holly this upright evergreen tree is a gem in terms of size, shape, color, and appearance. Vigorous and fast-growing, the Nellie R Steven grows rapidly into a broad pyramidal shaped evergreen reaching 25’ height and 12 -15’ width
  • American Holly: A true American classic. The American Holly is native to North America from Florida to Massachusetts and west to Texas and Northern Missouri. With lush dark green glossy leaves and brilliant red berries in the fall, it is as often planted as a specimen as it is used for a natural privacy tree. The American Holly reaches 50’ height and 20’width at maturity. It grows best in dappled light conditions with well-drained soils
  • White Pine The Eastern White Pine is a sturdy evergreen tree that’s best used in landscapes with ample space. It’s fine feathery needles, open canopy, and straight trunk get more picturesque with age. White Pines are known to be fast-growing and long-lived and are the perfect tree for windbreaks, buffer plantings or privacy screens in large open areas.
  • Blue Ice Arizona Cypress The Blue Ice Arizona Cypress is a conical conifer that has smooth, flaking reddish-purple bark and upright, spirally arranged sprays of scale-like, aromatic, glaucous blue-gray leaves/needles that are flecked with white resin. It develops globular cones which are chocolate brown. Prefers full sun, and thrives especially well in somewhat hot, dry environments. Makes a wonderful medium to large specimen tree or a great privacy screen or hedge. Maintains its beautiful silvery-blue color all year round.
  • Blue Point Juniper: The Blue Point juniper grows into a pyramidal shape and reaches up to 12 feet tall. As an evergreen, the Blue Point Juniper can provide homeowners with a year-round privacy screen along a fence line. The Blue Point Juniper also works well in a cluster or multi-row arrangement.

Privacy Shrubs

Privacy plants don’t have to be towering specimens. If you are creating an outdoor room, meditation garden or are just simply looking to add privacy to your patio area, there are numerous evergreen shrubs that can be used as privacy screens. Whether you are looking for a small to mid-height hedge plant, or a small windbreak we offer many options, in fact, some of our larger sized shrubs can be used to create an instant hedge.

  • Boxwood: Boxwoods are likely the most well-known type of plant used to create privacy screens. These evergreen shrubs are dense, and you can prune them into any shape. Apart from needing regular pruning to maintain shape, boxwoods are low-maintenance and stay a rich green color year-round.
  • Privet: Northern privet is a semi-evergreen or slightly deciduous shrub that can be shaped into a dense, hedge form. It grows fast but requires ongoing maintenance to keep its hedge shape. Privet produces bright white flowers in the spring, which enhances the visual appeal of your privacy screen.
  • Schip Cherry Laurels: Skip Cherry Laurel is an easy to grow evergreen shrub or hedge plant for filtered sunlight to dappled shade. Glossy, medium-green leaves with a refined look on a solid, vase-shaped form create a layered effect. Stalks of fragrant white flowers appear in spring. Schip is one of the hardiest of the Laurels. It makes a stunning hedge or accent plant that responds to pruning very well.
  • Hicks Yew: Hicks Yew is an excellent evergreen shrub for mid-sized privacy hedges and screens. The upright-growing branches are covered with dense, glossy, dark evergreen foliage and it naturally forms a narrow, columnar plant that works well as a hedge plant.
  • Golden Euonymus: The Golden Euonymus gives a stunning effect when planted in a row. It can be used as a specimen or foundation plant and creates s nice border or hedge (if clipped regularly). Golden Euonymus is an ideal hedge, as it can be sheared to maintain a height or left to grow into a natural form that is dense enough to make a good visual and sound barrier.
  • Manhattan Euonymus: Euonymus Manhattan is an excellent choice for a fast-growing evergreen hedge, informal screen or espalier. This underutilized shrub has dense, lush, dark green foliage and a naturally neat, formal appearance, without pruning.
  • Red Tip-Photinia: red-tipped Photinia (Photinia x fraseri) is a very popular shrub. It’s used as a privacy, screening or buffer plant. The oval leaves of photinia plants start bright red but turn into the dark reddish-green after a couple of weeks to a month. During the spring, the Red Tip photinia also has small white flowers that produce red fruits, that often last into the winter.
  • Ilex glabra Shamrock: Shamrock Holly is perfect for use as an Evergreen Privacy Hedge. Ilex Glabra Shamrock or Inkberry holly is one of the best selections of our native holly on the market today. It has a broad upright habit and holds its foliage at the base of the plant. Tolerates heat, drought, sun, and shade. It grows very well in urban areas which makes it great for use in smaller city gardens.

Benefits of Privacy Trees

If you haven’t used privacy trees or screen trees as a natural buffer before, you may be surprised to learn that they offer so many advantages. By strategically locating where you plant privacy trees you naturally establish yard boundaries. Once up and established the natural screening will greatly enhance your sense of ease and allow you to relax more in your own backyard. A well-planned privacy tree buffer screen installed in staggered natural groupings not only looks great but greatly reduces unwanted noise pollution.

Here are some reasons why homeowners may choose to plant staggered rows, groupings or masses of shrubs and trees to create a privacy screen:

  • Draw natural yard boundaries instead of or in addition to privacy fences
  • Block one or multiple viewpoints from neighbors or street traffic
  • Protect your property from high winds
  • Reduce snow buildup in your yard
  • Enhance the architectural design of your landscaping
  • Create a natural sound barrier

Types of Privacy Trees

Once you’ve decided the best way to arrange your trees for privacy, it’s time to consider the best tree types. Experts recommend certain species of trees or shrubs over others to create an effective privacy screen. Here are the two broad options homeowners have available to choose between when selecting the best trees to plant for privacy:

  • Evergreens: Many people consider evergreens to be trees that are best for privacy. They fill in nicely as they mature and offer a nice consistent look for a privacy screen. Unlike deciduous plants, evergreens maintain their foliage and color year-round. However, they don’t provide quite the color diversity that you would find with many deciduous plants.
  • Deciduous: These trees and shrubs come in many varieties, which can make for an attractive and colorful privacy screen. However, deciduous plants lose their leaves in late fall and throughout the winter when they are dormant and won’t provide year-round privacy.

Choosing the Right Privacy Trees for Your Yard

Each property owner must consider their unique needs when deciding what the best trees for privacy are. This comes down to not only the space, size, and slope of your yard but your tastes as well. It’s also important for homeowners to think ahead about what their privacy screen will look like once their plantings mature.

Here are some of the basics to consider when choosing trees or shrubs that are good for privacy in your yard:

Privacy Screen Height and Width
When choosing the right type of privacy trees or shrubs for your home, you must consider the full mature size of the plant. You’ll want to make sure that the plants reach the right height for your desired screen when they’re fully grown. On the one hand, you’ll want your plants to be tall enough to hide particular views. On the other hand, you don’t want them to be so tall that they may reach overhead power lines and endanger your home.
Width is another important consideration for your privacy trees and shrubs. If you’re planting along neighboring property lines, you’ll want to make sure your screen isn’t encroaching on your neighbor’s yard. The full width of the plant at its mature stage will also help you determine the spacing between each one. The screen may initially have large gaps between each plant, but this will fill in overtime.

Amount of Usable Space
In addition to the size of the trees themselves, you also need to consider the size of your yard. If you already have a small yard, you’ll want to maximize space by selecting taller, thinner trees. If you have an excess of space, you may be able to afford to lose some of it to fuller, wider hedgerows.
If you plan to line a walkway, driveway or patio with privacy trees, consider how the roots will grow outward below the ground. Be cautious of not planting your trees or shrubs too close to your pavement. Roots may spread under the pavement causing it to push up and possibly create cracks or uneven patches.

Level of Maintenance
Another important thing for homeowners to consider is how much they’re willing to invest in maintenance costs and time. Some hedges require regular pruning to ensure they maintain their neat appearance. For some people, this may be too much of an undertaking.
If you’re looking for low-maintenance privacy trees, consider going with a medium-height evergreen tree. Trees that grow in conical or pyramidal shapes may be a suitable option because they don’t require as much pruning.

Plant Care Needs

Each plant has its own needs when it comes to soil type and amount of watering and sunlight. Before selecting the right plant for your yard, you need to determine the amount of sunlight your yard receives throughout the year. Pay attention to the exact areas of your yard you want to screen off with trees and whether these parts receive full or partial sun.

Additionally, you may need to have your yard’s soil tested for pH levels. While many plants prefer a neutral pH, some prefer more acidic or alkaline soil. Once you’ve selected the right plants based on soil and sunlight needs, you’ll then need to learn about their watering frequency needs. Newly planted trees and shrubs need to be watered consistently for the first several years so be prepared to use a sprinkler or watering system if necessary.

The final consideration is your immediate privacy screening needs. Do you want your privacy trees to be full enough now to block view corridors? If so, you can purchase several immature trees or shrubs and place them close together to avoid gaps. Or for immediate privacy, you can consider using a multi-row or clustered arrangement for your privacy trees. This is another way to block out your neighbors or street traffic.

However, this approach requires purchasing more trees and can drive the budget up. If you can wait, it may be more cost-effective to purchase immature trees, space them further apart and wait for them to grow. Eventually, they will fill in the gaps and create a fuller privacy screen. In this case, you may want to invest in fast-growing trees such as some of the evergreens mentioned above.

Traditional Privacy Tree Arrangements

Planting a privacy screen of trees may seem straightforward. We’ve all seen beautiful and immaculately manicured hedgerows along sidewalks that effectively block front yards from sight. But this isn’t the only way to plant your privacy trees. In reality, there are several different ways to arrange your shrubs and trees to build the right privacy screen for your yard.

Here are some of the traditional arrangements and ways you may choose to plant your privacy trees:

Same Plant Type

Using multiple trees of the same type to build a privacy screen is one of the most popular options. It creates a perfect, consistent screen that looks impressive to all who pass by. The even spacing, height, and fullness along a row of privacy trees or hedges can be a truly stunning feature to add to your home.
However, it can be a difficult effect to maintain. One poorly performing tree can cause the row to look uneven. Or a wave of pests or disease can wipe out your entire row. It also requires a regular pruning regime to maintain the appearance of evenness and consistency. Many homeowners find this too time-consuming and may look at alternative options.

Mixed Plantings
An alternative option to planting privacy screens of the same plant type is to go for a mixture of shrubs instead. For busy homeowners, this may be a more practical option. Part of the visual appeal is having a beautiful combination of interesting plants. This can add depth and intrigue to your landscape design.
Choosing a mixture of different plants is also more practical from a maintenance standpoint. Homeowners won’t have to worry about differing heights or performance levels of their chosen plants. A shorter, smaller tree won’t stand out like a sore thumb as it would in a single row of all the same plant type.

Single-Row Planting
Arranging a privacy screen in a straight line is usually the most common option for planting. A single row of plantings works well if you have the luxury of a perfectly level and straight boundary along which you’re planting. You can plant a straight row of all the same type of tree, or you can do mixed shrubs along a fence line.
This approach also works well if you wish to occupy a limited amount of space with your privacy screen. A straight line of plantings can help you to maximize the space in your yard while also giving you the privacy you desire.

Cluster Planting
Cluster planting is an arrangement approach that works if there is a particular view you wish to eliminate. In a cluster formation, you strategically plant a group of 3-5 shrubs of trees in front of whatever it is you’d like to block. Experts recommend grouping in odd numbers.
Homeowners looking for a more natural-looking privacy screen may prefer cluster planting. This is the opposite of a perfectly manicured straight-lined hedge. The cluster arrangement works whether you want to plant the same type of tree or a mixture of trees and shrubs. Some homeowners enjoy getting creative with a cluster formation by adding in flowering bushes to add further landscape design features.

Multi-Row Planting
A final option that homeowners have is to plant 2-3 staggered rows of trees. The idea with this arrangement is that the back row fills in the gaps of the row in front of it. This way of arranging a privacy screen allows the homeowner to benefit from immediate privacy as opposed to waiting for the gaps to fill in on their own.
This arrangement also creates a more solid wall effect compared to the other options. A multi-row privacy screen is a good option if you have a large, open yard or are next to a busy road. A multi-row is an excellent option for canceling noise pollution. It’s also the best choice if you’re looking to protect otherwise open space from high winds.

Purchasing Your Privacy Trees

There are several other factors to consider when choosing the best trees to plant for privacy. It can be hard to keep track of all these factors on your own. That’s why it’s always wise to seek the advice of local professionals who can recommend what the best trees for privacy are for your yard. Whether you want low-maintenance evergreens or beautifully manicured hedges, garden experts can help you build a natural, privacy screen that allows you to enjoy outdoor living.

For three decades, Garden Goods Direct has been supplying healthy, high-quality and disease-free trees from our Maryland nursery. Garden Goods Direct offers a beautiful range of trees and shrubs including Green Giants, Leyland cypress, boxwoods and more. Visit Garden Goods Direct today to purchase your privacy trees and shrubs online.

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