When we start spending more quality time in our backyards, it can quickly become clear when more foliage is needed. Trees can obscure pretty much anything you'd prefer not to see, and provide an attractive focal point as an alternative.
Perhaps you're looking to reduce noise from traffic or provide a screen from neighbors and passers-by. With the right privacy trees in the right spots, you can transform your outdoor space into a secluded haven for fun and relaxation.
This tall conifer hybrid has densely packed, aromatic leaves. It’s perfect if you’re looking to add privacy and height to your garden quickly, because it grows around three feet each year, capping at around 80. Be mindful of this if you’re considering planting near neighbors' yards.
Leyland grows well in good sunlight, but won’t tolerate extremely hot summers, preferring temperatures between -10 and 40 degrees F. It's fairly easy to care for: plant it in most types of soil and water two to three times each week to help it establish, but avoid overwatering.
A robust deciduous tree, Saskatoon or Amelanchier alnifolia produces small, berry-like fruit and reaches up to 50 feet in height. Saskatoon is adaptable to many kinds of soil, but dislikes sites with heavy clay or poor drainage. It’s extremely cold-hardy, withstanding temperatures between -60 and 30 degrees and likes full sun or partial shade. Control weeds and soil dryness with a mulch and prune away any damaged branches to ensure growth of around 1.5 feet per year.
Evergreens are a great choice as a boundary hedge or other privacy screen. This hybrid holly grows up to three feet each year, requires very little care, and soon forms a tall conical shape with dark, glossy leaves, white flowers in Spring, and classic red berries in winter.
Nellie Stevens holly grows best in climates between -10 and 30 degrees. For a dense hedge, plant around five feet apart. Choose a site with well-drained soil, plenty of sun, and some shade. Prune annually, but avoid doing so in Spring.
DoraDalton / Getty Images
A deciduous ornamental tree grown for its beautiful leaves and white flowers, the Cleveland pear works well as a stand-alone feature, being broad and heavy enough to provide plenty of privacy. Growing in temperatures between -10 and 20 degrees, it gains around 4 feet each year, peaking at about 30 feet. The tree does best when planted in well-drained soil and watered regularly. It only requires pruning if you notice dead or damaged branches — otherwise, you can let it grow freely if you have the space.
This large, evergreen conifer is easy to grow alone or as a hedge. It’s great for those who would rather avoid pruning, as it forms a tall column quickly. A site with an average temperature range between -20 to 30 degrees is ideal. Green Giant has good disease, pest, and drought resistance but needs a layer of mulch for root protection and moisture retention. Hedges will need an annual trim to keep them looking their best.
As a sturdy deciduous tree with attractive dense-growing leaves, the American hornbeam provides ample shade and privacy. It grows around 12 inches per year and can reach 50 feet in both height and width. Being a natural understory tree in the forest, the Hornbeam can grow in either sun or shade. It is disease resistant and adaptable to temperatures between -40 and 30 degrees.
You will get best results in well-draining, moist, fertile soil with an acidic to neutral pH. In dry weather, you’ll need to provide plenty of water and mulch, especially during the first few years.
This deciduous beauty has it all: dense, spreading branches to filter out eyesores, vibrant pink blossoms, foliage that goes from maroon to green to gold as the seasons change, and fruit that attracts wildlife. Reaching 20 feet in height and 15 feet in width, it grows between one and two feet each year. It’s adaptable to most soils, except those that are very wet, and to temperatures between -30 and 20 degrees.
To achieve the fullest canopy, plant in full sun with plenty of space around it. Water weekly to help roots establish. Apply an annual fertilizer and prune in the spring.
Firethorn is a small evergreen with prickly dark green leaves and vibrant red or orange berries that last until winter, making it perfect for seasonal decorations and attracting birds. Growing 1.5 feet each year and reaching 16 feet high, its dense, thorny form helps create a physical barrier as well as privacy, but plant responsibly if you have kids or pets at home.
It’s happy in either sunny or shady conditions between -10 and 30 degrees and likes both dry and moist soils. If you prune it annually and water regularly for the first year, firethorn is easy to care for.
This tall deciduous tree has delicate-shaped leaves that turn bright gold in the fall. For sheer speed of growth, it’s hard to beat — it can shoot up to 8 feet per year and reach over 100 feet in total. It likes wet, alkaline, and acidic soils and lots of sun but will tolerate temperatures from -40 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Hybrid poplars have a robust root structure, so be sure to plant them well away from buildings.
A long-needled evergreen tree with attractive red-brown bark, loblolly pines can be planted six feet apart to create a quick-growing screen that gains about two feet each year. Trees grown individually may reach 150 feet.
This pine likes acidic and clay soil, prefers full sun, and will thrive between -10 and 30 degrees. Initially, apply an all-purpose fertilizer, and water regularly all year round. Loblolly tends to self-prune, but you may need to remove damaged branches.