With urban and suburban areas expanding every day, you may desire to increase your privacy from passersby. Privacy fences built from vinyl or finished wood are expensive. Overall, trees make excellent privacy fences because they are natural, support the environment, and are relatively low cost.
Before we built fences of stone, iron, and finished wood, we built fences naturally with trees and hedges. For a tree to make an excellent privacy fence, it needs a thick canopy and to grow low to the ground. While an oak tree grows big and strong, the canopy grows too high on the trunk.
Another important feature for a line of privacy trees is year-round coverage. Deciduous trees will lose their leaves throughout the year, leaving you exposed. All in all, privacy hedges are best built from evergreen trees.
The best features for a tree for privacy are:
You will want to choose species that grow quickly. Additionally, you will want to choose a tree that meets your height requirements. In some areas, you may not have any requirement, but in urban areas you will experience power lines, neighboring buildings, or balconies.
After all, shape, size, and hardiness are important factors for you to consider before choosing your next tree.
The top five trees for privacy are:
1. Leyland Cypress
Leyland cypress trees grow into a beautiful and thick privacy fence. Also, Leyland cypress trees display a thick canopy growing the entire length of the trunk. When planted close together, the Leyland cypress trees weave together to create a completely opaque wall.
Leyland cypress trees grow to 70 feet, but can be trimmed down to a height that meets your requirements. However, it is common practice to prune these trees. The width of these trees is less important. For true privacy, your Leyland cypresses should intertwine together.
Overall, Leyland cypress trees are low maintenance once established. These trees establish and grow quickly, over 2 feet per year. On the other hand, they struggle in cold regions with significant frosts.
Leyland cypresses are evergreens, keeping their needles year-round. Not only are they excellent trees for privacy, but create excellent wind breaks as well.
For your Leyland cypress to thrive, it needs full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Otherwise, it may stunt the growth or produce brown needles. They live between 10 and 25 years, but need little maintenance through that time except some yearly pruning.
2. Italian Cypress
Italian cypresses grow tall and slender. Because of this growth pattern, they fit in tight spaces to create an excellent privacy screen. Furthermore, the slender growth pattern will let you plant them close together to form a tall privacy fence.
They grow rapidly. On average, the Italian cypress grows over three feet per year without trouble. In fact, Italian cypresses easily reach 30 feet in less than 10 years.
These evergreens will continue to grow if unpruned up to 110 feet in height, but only 10 feet wide.
You cannot plant Italian cypress trees in areas with frost or cold temperatures. However, they sustain dry heat and drought very well. Sunlight is less of an issue with the Italian cypress. Partial sun is more than enough for our thin friends. The needles cover most of the tree and grow low to the ground.
3. Thuja Green Giant
One of the most popular choices for a natural privacy fence is the Thuja Green Giant. Not only does it grow at an amazing pace, it is also low maintenance. On average, the Thuja Green Giant grows close to five feet per year.
For the first year, you will need to ensure your trees receive ample water. Once established, the Thuja Green Giant will not need much care. It can also survive drought well after the first year.
You will want to plant your Thuja Green Giants about 10 feet apart. This spacing will give your trees enough distance to intertwine. Dark needles cover this tree down close to the root.
Unlike the first two trees on this list, Thuja Green Giants tolerate cooler weather more. It is resistant to disease and pests. However, salt from snowy roads can cause severe damage to your Thuja Green Giants.
These trees live long lives, close to 50 years. If you face height restrictions, you can prune your Thuja Green Giants to the required height.
4. Emerald Green Arborvitae
The Emerald Green Arborvitae is an excellent alternative to the other trees on this list because it survives and thrives in the north. Moreover, they grow to a relatively short height of 15 feet. For healthy growth, you will need to plant your Emerald Green Arborvitaes at least 3 feet part. To create a true natural barrier, this planting distance will cause full growth and coverage.
They need a bit more care than other trees. Regular watering is mandatory for these trees to grow to their full potential. If the weather turns toward drought, you will need to maintain a strict watering schedule to keep your Emerald Green Arborvitaes lush and green.
The climate of the continental United States will support the Emerald Green Arborvitae. With the short stature of these trees, the growth rate is slow. Additionally, the stature makes them a perfect choice for compact spaces. Finally, with the small size, you will not need to prune these trees as you do all the others on this list.
5. Cherry Blossom
Unlike the needled evergreens on this list, the Cherry Blossom trees grow like most deciduous trees. The canopy of branches spread over 20 feet. The blossoms and leaves are thick and grow low to the ground.
Cherry Blossoms can sustain colder weather and most frosts. The hot weather found in Texas and Florida is also too much for the Cherry Blossoms. They will need full sunlight to reach their full potential. The actual cherry blossoms will appear in early spring. Growing all over much of the Northern Hemisphere, these trees create a beautiful privacy wall.
Most Cherry Blossoms will reach 30 feet in height. Regular pruning can force the Cherry Blossoms to be dwarf size. The smaller size will produce a better privacy fence.
All in all, the Cherry Blossoms lives for 30 to 40 years. With striking leaves and blossoms, these will add a pop of color to your backyard. With thick canopies growing close together, you will feel a great sense of privacy from a line of Cherry Blossoms growing in your yard.