Trees for screening privacy

Leyland Cypress trees and similar like Thuja Green Giant trees can provide great privacy but have huge issues when it comes to offering privacy long term. Disease, drought, and natural disasters are the leading causes of damage to these trees. In many cases, you’ll have a few of them die which will create gaps in your screen rendering it almost useless. To fix the gap you will have to install more of them which could then damage the others around it. These have very large root balls so replacing one of them will likely damage the others in the process.

Leyland Cypress


Prone to disease which threatens the life of the plant. Resistant to pests and disease, while problems are rare it does not typically affect plant health.
Prone to drought damage or death. All bamboo is drought resistant and holds water very well.
Will up-root in natural disasters and are difficult to revive. Even in the worst of disasters broken canes will always be replaced by the next spring’s growth.
Expensive to replace. Bamboo will replenish damaged canes during the next spring growth cycle.


Seiridium Canker, Botryosphaeria Canker, and Cercospora Needle Blight are all common diseases that can affect foliage, stems, and branches. These are the common diseases that will cause branches or the whole tree to turn brown. There are also some root diseases such as Phytophthora root rot caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, and Annosus root rot caused by Heterobasidion annosum. These diseases spread quickly from tree to tree and can eventually kill off your whole privacy screen.


Possibly the most common reason for these cypress trees dying is drought. Unlike disease, a drought will quickly destroy your entire planting. With some of the recent record-breaking droughts across the USA, it’s safer to stick to plants with more tolerance for drought. Just look at our facebook post with a picture taken after 54 days without rain. The drought we had last year in Alabama greatly affected cypress trees around our area. A large majority of them showing partial foliar damage, or completely dead.

Natural Disaster

Leyland Cypress trees are prone to wind damage and have fell prey to tornadoes and hurricanes in the past. In storm-prone areas, it is not recommended to plant these near buildings or power lines. Not to mention once they have been uprooted from the ground it can be near impossible to secure them in the ground again, especially without damage to the tree. Many arborists recommend removing the tree and starting with a new one. (Losing your screen)

Why Bamboo?

Bamboo is resistant to disease, drought, and natural disaster. In just under 40 years of growing bamboo, we have never encountered any serious problems with any of these issues. As much of bamboos “life” system is underground, any damage above ground can be quickly replaced with the next springs new shoots. Eliminating costly maintenance and loss of your privacy screen.

If you are not familiar with how bamboo grows we highly recommend you read more here. How Bamboo Grows

Bamboo is an amazing plant that grows quicker than any other species and provides a lush, evergreen screen for you to enjoy. We love bamboo and hope you choose it as a feature in your landscape. We have over 150 species growing at our nursery and can choose the right kind for you.

What are you waiting for? See what bamboo plants we have for you.

Links: Mail Order Plants – Caring for Bamboo – Frequently Asked Questions – About our family owned company

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America’s Most Popular Privacy Tree

Why Leyland Cypress Trees?

The Leyland Cypress is America’s most planted privacy tree for a reason. For starters, this amazing tree grows up to 3 to 5 feet each year, boasts feathery soft, lush foliage, and is drought tolerant. Strength and beauty in one? Check.

Well-known for their iconic columnar silhouettes, Leyland Cypresses grow very fast and thicken to create a solid wall. And their textured foliage is soft to the touch – no unpleasant thorns or prickly leaves. Plus, it stays green year-round, giving you complete privacy. Though your Leyland Cypress grows rapidly, it’s easily pruned to your desired shape and height. But even without trimming, your Leyland Cypress trees will grow in a uniform, symmetrical shape that gives you a dense, living wall.

Why is Better

Best of all, these fast growers are adaptable to a variety of soils and conditions, even sandy and clay. Space your Leylands 8 feet apart for a privacy hedge, or farther apart for a spacious property border. Either way, you’ll have hardy, vibrant trees that will give you the fastest growth possible.

And since we’ve planted, grown and nurtured our Leyland Cypresses for best results, you get the easy benefits in your landscape. Basically, we’re done the hard work at our nursery so that you don’t have to…you get a lush, green tree you’ll enjoy for years to come, without hassle.

For the quickest privacy, you can still order from our limited supply of taller Leyland Cypress Trees. Luxuriant, low-maintenance beauty for your landscape. Does it get any better than that? Order your own today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Leyland Cypresses grow to heights of 50 feet with a canopy that can spread out to about 25 feet. If you want a taller hedge, screen or windbreak, young trees should be spaced at least 25 feet apart. If you’re growing a hedge, a space of 8 to 10 feet between trees is ideal. It will take about five to seven years for the space between the trees to fill.

To plant a Leyland Cypress, dig a planting hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Center the tree in the planting hole and back fill with soil. Create a watering ring around the perimeter of the planting hole (this helps divert water to the outer roots). Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark.

2. Watering: Water your Leyland Cypress with at least an inch of water per week, keeping the soil moist but not oversaturated – generally, we recommend letting a garden hose run for about 1 to 3 minutes per week, depending on your soil. The deeper you water the tree, the better the tree will grow.

If you’re not sure when to water, simply check the surrounding soil about 3 inches down – if the soil is dry here, it’s time to water.

3. Fertilizing: If your Leyland Cypress needs fertilizer at all, it should be fertilized with a shrub and tree fertilizer, unless a soil test shows that nutrients are low or missing. If the soil is missing or low on nutrients, use a nutrient-specific fertilizer.

4. Pruning: These trees require very little pruning. You may want to consider pruning if you are using them as a hedge; however, for the most part, they require little to no pruning.

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privacy trees for backyard I have & I give thumbs up to!

We have the yard of my dreams. It’s what made me instantly want to buy our home. Every year I make small changes as budget allows to make it dreamier but as a tree lover (and hugger) it’s beyond my wildest dreams to have a yard like this! Today I’m sharing with you some trees we have planted and how/why I would recommend using them in your own landscape design, focusing primarily on privacy trees for backyard design. Whether you need small trees for privacy or are in need of good trees for privacy that give great height I got you covered. Every tree shown here is from my yard and I can attest to them being great landscape design ideas if you’re working on building privacy in your yard.

Let’s start at the front of our yard, and my favorite trees – arborvitae.

arborvitae trees

The reason I love arborvitae trees is because they add a dynamic look of multiple trees in various shapes and sizes. They are visually gorgeous. Beyond that they allow virtually no space through them so make excellent trees to plant in an area you want total privacy. While I think it would be overkill to do an entire yard in these, they are gorgeous.

In these photos you’ll see arborvitae to the left, dwarf gardenia in front (not quiet in bloom in this photo) which make great ground cover to the right a Japanese Maple with hydrangea tucked under it. The Japanese Maple provides excellent shade for the hydrangea to flourish below it. It gives great size and coverage for privacy as well with a colorful and contrasting look to the arborvitae.

arborvitae trees are good for small areas where condensed coverage is needed. People who want a more architectural, off the beaten path vibe.

cypress trees

The classic border tree. They are most people’s go-to’s. Why? They are inexpensive, get huuuugggeee, are fluffy little guys and are easy. Now. My problem with them (le struggle) is that mine are now 50′ feet tall and the bottom part is starting to fall off the branch making the privacy not so much at eye level.

I asked my sweet photographer I love to take landscape pictures while I furiously changed clothes to prep for another blog photoshoot (they aren’t nearly as glamorous as they look) and she choose to take the beautiful parts of the tree. I sort of wanted to show the crappy part. Ha. Time hasn’t allowed me to get my camera out to re-shoot.

But current situation is after 13 years these trees no longer give great border protection in areas I need it. But you know – these are giant trees at this point so you may have no have that issue! Here are a few images of mine – and I must have eight or so.

Cypress trees are good for yards that need height and fullness for privacy and lots of it. Grow at a decent rate.


Loropetalum. Just say that out loud a few times – laur-a-pet-lum. It makes your mouth move like a contortionist. It’s rather funny and I kind of dig the person who came up with that name.

The loropetalums are what you’re seeing intros first image below the stone columns of our home. They are purple-ish in color year round bloom these tiny little pink flowers twice a year. The pro’s? Affordable. Add a little color pizazz to your yard and create good border. I asked for these to be planted to hide the pool floats behind them. I’m forever trying to make that look neat and tidy but you know, kids. I surrender. So the loropetalum makes the unsightly mess out of sight, out of mind!

These puppies need to be pocket pruned (I’ll let you look that up) in the fall and spring to allow them to keep growing and staying full.

Loropetalum bushes are good for gate fencing privacy. They stay fairly low and don’t get that tall. Add color and are soft.

gardenia bushes – perfect small trees for privacy

If you don’t need the height, plant these beautiful babies everywhere. They are evergreens so stay green and leafy and oh so pretty year round, and then grace you with fragrance just as you’re ready to enjoy your summer. Gorgeous, beauties, can’t go wrong. I’m planting more. And I’m starting to use the dwarf gardenias in my container planters. This way I have container greenery year round, less annual maintenance and beautiful fragrance!

Again, pocket prune.

Gardenia plants are good for borders where height isn’t needed. Small fence borders, fill in areas, etc.

holly trees

Ouch! But oh so private! This pricky beauties aren’t great if you’re putting them in a yard where, say, your ten year old will go running for a baseball and crash into the trees. But if you want straight up year round easy border and great privacy trees for your backyard these holly’s are the jam.

Every few years I add some fertilizer to keep them popping, but other than that they are low maintenance. We have some that act as border trees, and one that’s ornamental and shaped. It’s next to the loose Vitex to the right in one photo (that hasn’t yet sprouted it’s pretty purple blooms!)

Another note, my photographer didn’t quite catch the row of holly trees that line my pool, but here’s my show of my using my WaterRower near them. So you can kind of see them!

Holly trees are good for areas you need a lot of height and width. Not good for areas where you’ll be up against them a lot given their prickly leaves.

quick note about these privacy trees for backyard

Every border tree I shared here is evergreen so won’t drop it’s leaves. As a girl originally from Florida I didn’t know know trees dropped their leaves (or that grass went dormant – I thought mine was dead at first!) Here’s a glimpse of our backyard in both the spring and winter (old picture of me from a previous post but it’s all I had!) so you can get a sense of what most trees in Georgia do. This is why I honed in on these particular ones to share with you!

What are your favorite trees to plant for privacy? Fall is the perfect time to plant, so start brainstorming so you can plant around October/November and get those babies ready for spring! Happy planting!

Be sure to check out how I use silk flowers in the spring! You’ll be shocked at what you see!

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Wednesday – January 01, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Thoughts on non-native Italian Cypress in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to know your thoughts on growing Italian Cypress trees in Austin Texas? We are looking to create a privacy screen(and prepared to pay more for mature trees to cut down the wait to grow time). We would like something evergreen and these will be planted along a fence line with no other trees in the area (most will be planted under what is now vegetable garden beds). The issue is 2/3 of the area receive 3 or 4 hours sun while the other 6+. If Italian Cypress aren’t ideal..could you recommend something else fast growing in a similar compact but tall style? The main requirements are a) privacy and b) some road noise. Thanks!


After answering nearly 9000 questions, Mr. Smarty Plants feels there is nothing much new in the garden world, and since we are lazy (it is, after all, Christmas vacation) we are going to refer you to a couple of previous answers on Italian Cypress, both of them from Austin:

Replacement of stressed Italian Cypress:

“Another problem for your Cupressus sempervirens, of course, is that it is not native to North America and certainly not to Central Texas. It needs fertile soil with good drainage. Our area is predominantly a heavy clay (along with the solid limestone), alkaline in pH and very poor drainage. This sort of situation is one of the reasons the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.”

These answers below feature more links and many pictures of appropriate plants from our Image Gallery.

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on privacy plants from Austin.

And this one, from Buda (very close to Austin).

See, we told you we were lazy, but since there are no native trees that will emulate Italian Cypress and still flourish in Central Texas, we think you would be happier with a mixed planting of trees and shrubs that will distract the eye from the encroaching buildings and certainly muffle the highway noise, as well as changing with the seasons and offering a variety of looks over time. In all cases, follow the plant links (like Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, sunlight and water needs and soils best suited to it, as well as showing pictures.

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Italian Cypress Tree

Cupressus sempervirens

The noble Italian cypress tree lends a touch of rich elegance to a large home with a formal landscape.

Like something out of a romantic Italian painting, these stately columnar trees – sometimes known as Mediterranean Cypress or Tuscan Cypress – are beautiful in just the right setting.

With a very tall and narrow shape, the tree can can fit in tight spaces, form a picturesque privacy screen, or go up against a house.

It’s especially effective when used with Spanish-Mediterranean architecture.

Italian cypress needs a home of height and substance.

Eventually soaring to 30 feet or more, this tree will overwhelm a smaller home and look silly…and at that point the homeowner usually removes the tree because he didn’t understand how big it would get.

The eastern Mediterranean region that this cypress is native to is much drier than South Florida. And some cypress trees don’t really like our climate and can develop some problems.

Ways to avoid issues with fungus are placement that allows good air circulation around the tree, choosing a well-drained spot for planting, and watering with an irrigation system so that spray doesn’t hit the foliage.

Plant specs

This evergreen tree grows at a moderate pace to about 30 to 40 feet tall. It rarely gets more than 3 or 4 feet wide.

Cypress is cold hardy and grows anywhere in South Florida.

It must have well drained soil and does best in full to part sun.

Plant care

Add composted cow manure to the hole when you plant. Avoid heavy mulch around the tree’s base.

These trees should never be sheared or pruned. They have a nice natural shape that looks good without any extra care, and cuts and bruises can let problems in.

Water on a regular basis, allowing time between waterings for the soil to dry out. Avoid overhead watering where the foliage gets wet.

Fertilize 3 times a year – in spring, summer and autumn – with a good quality granular fertilizer.

Plant spacing

For a row of these stately trees, place them about 3 feet apart to form a privacy screen.

You can plant as close to the house as 3 feet, though it’s best to make sure there’s enough room between the house and the tree’s mature diameter for good air circulation.

This tree will grow in a large container though at some point it will be too large to stay there.

Landscape uses for Italian cypress

  • around a courtyard or patio for privacy
  • lining a drive on one or both sides
  • architectural accent

A.K.A. (also known as): Mediterranean Cypress, Tuscan Cypress
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? MAYBE (with year round attention)
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Variegated pittisporum, canna lily, dwarf fakahatchee grass, bougainvillea, king sago palm, and hibiscus.

Other trees you might like: False Ashoka, Southern Red Cedar

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