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What is the Best Privacy Tree?

Looking for some great options for a privacy screen using trees, hedges or shrubs? This article is for you!

What’s the secret to great privacy hedges?

How do you choose which ones to use?

If you’re trying to decide and need some ideas then read on!

By the end of this article you will:

  • Understand which trees and hedges make the best privacy fences, and why
  • Have 10-20 options for your privacy trees (for climate zones 3-11)
  • Discover our 2 favorite picks for attractive, fast-growing privacy trees with dense foliage

There’s plenty of debate about which trees are best for privacy from the neighbours, but some are better than others. The best privacy trees grow fast and will give you protection from prying eyes. The main difference is how long this will take, and how much coverage the foliage will provide.

Based on our research we’ve put together a solid list of contenders, so keep reading!

Best Trees For Privacy From Neighbours (Fast Growing)

Here are our top 2 picks for the best privacy trees:

  • North Privet (Zones 4-8)
  • Leyland Cypress (Zones 6-10)

These two species are attractive, fast growing, have very dense foliage thus making them perfect choices for privacy hedges.

However, they are far from the only options, so here are some others.

What Are the Fastest Growing Privacy Trees/Shrubs (By Climate Zone)?

In general, evergreens make an excellent choice for privacy trees. However, there are many other types of trees and shrubs that are also good for privacy, and evergreens are not necessarily the best choice. You may want to consider other types of trees, hedges and shrubs.

Here is a breakdown of some fast-growing trees for privacy in each climate zone.

Fast Growing Shrubs For a Privacy Fence (Zones 4-10)

North Privet (Zones 4-8)

This shrub grows extremely quickly at the rate of approximately 3 feet per year making it a great choice for a privacy hedge. It’s the fastest growing deciduous hedge in America, and it shears extremely well. It can take many shapes depending on your landscape design goals. If you’re in climate zones 4-8 the North Privet would be our recommendation for a privacy screen.

Keep in mind that privet can be invasive in some parts of the US (the Southeast). Lastly, the name of this shrub, privet, is spelled very closely to the word privacy so that alone might sway you ; )

Forsythia (zones 5-8)

If you’re interested in a good looking hedge that grows fast for privacy, consider Forsythia. It grows at a rate of about 2 feet per year which is 1 foot less than privet. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage though as a slightly slower growth rate could mean less pruning.

Glossy Abelia (Zones 6-9)

This evergreen hedge grows moderately at a rate of about 2 feet per year but tops out at 4-6 feet tall at maturity, so this limits its usefulness compared to taller privacy trees or hedges. However, Glossy Abelia definitely has some use as a lower height privacy shrub.

Nellie R Stevens Holly (Zones 6-9)

If you’ve ever had any experience with Holly you’ll know it grows like a weed ( up to 3 feet per year) and can make an excellent screen for privacy from neighbours. Its thorned leaves may also be an excellent deterrent for would-be thieves.

Wax Myrtyle (Zones 7-11)

This attractive olive green bush tops out at 20 feet in height and grows about 1 foot per year. Although it grows slowly its height is quite appealing for many people seeking privacy from neighbours, so you may want to consider Wax Myrtle as your choice for a tall privacy hedge.

Privacy shrubs will not grow as tall as privacy trees, so keep this in mind when making your decision about which privacy plants to choose.

Are you interested in learning about which trees make the best screen for privacy from neighbours? If yes, keep reading.

Fast Growing Privacy Trees (Zone 3-11)

In many cases shrubs are excellent for privacy. However, there are many reasons to use trees as opposed to hedges to add variety into your landscape design.

Here are some fantastic options if you’re interested in fast growing trees for privacy.

Eastern White Pine (Zone 3-7)

This fast-growing evergreen privacy tree grows up to 3 feet a year. The only disadvantage of a pine tree as a privacy screen is that the foliage is not as dense as other trees and hedges e.g. cedar, laurel or yew. If you only need a bit of separation and moderate privacy then the Eastern White Pine is for you.

Hybrid Poplar (Zones 3-9)

This deciduous tree is more useful for shade rather than privacy. It grows at a blindingly fast rate of 8 feet per year, so if you need some fast growing trees for moderate privacy then Hybrid Popular could be a great choice.

Silver Maple (Zones 3-9)

The best use for this deciduous tree is as a shade tree. It grows at approximately 2 feet per year which is slower than both Hybrid Poplar and Eastern White Pine. If you need dense foliage for privacy we would recommend something else.

Green giant arborvitae (Zones 5-7)

This evergreen grows at a moderate rate of 3 feet per year making it a decent candidate for a fast growing, tall privacy tree.

Dawn redwood (Zones 5-8)

This is another moderately fast growing tree that’s suitable for ‘throwing shade’. It grows at a rate of 2+ feet per year. If you have large landscapes to cover this one can be a good choice.

Leyland Cypress (Zones 6-10)

This evergreen is a fantastic candidate for a fast-growing privacy tree / hedge. It grows up to 4 feet per year and takes a shear quite nicely. This is one of our top recommendations as it looks good, grows fast, and has dense foliage.

Areca palm (Zones 10-11)

For those of you in tropical climate this attractive palm can help you create more privacy from neighbours. It grows up to 35 feet tall at a rate of about 2 feet per year.

The Best Privacy Trees For My Climate

The type of trees you choose for privacy will depend on what type of climate you’re in. For example, someone living in a desert climate (e.g. Palm Springs) will likely make a different decision than someone in a temperate rainforest (e.g. the Pacific Northwest).

The best way to choose which privacy trees to use is to look at what other people are using in your city or town and then confirm suitability with a quick internet search.

How Long Will It Take For My Privacy Trees to Grow to Their Full Height?

The easiest way to answer this question is to determine how tall you want your privacy trees to be. If you want a 10 foot tall privacy hedge, and your desired species grows at 2 feet per year then it will take 5 years to get to the desired height. This is assuming you don’t trim the top of the hedge at all until it reaches the desired height.

If you choose to shear the top of your privacy hedge it will take longer. If you want fast growth be prepared for your hedge to look ‘hairy’ on top and untrimmed.

In general, be prepared for your privacy trees to take many years to become an effective privacy screen.

How We Picked Our Favorite Privacy Trees/Hedges/Shrubs

Fast growing - the best privacy trees grow quickly so you won’t have to wait forever to get the privacy you want from neighbours.

Dense foliage - this is a key consideration for privacy because deciduous trees become quite bare in the winter thus reducing or eliminating their privacy benefits. In contrast, evergreens provide dense foliage all year thus making them an ideal choice for privacy.

Attractive - privacy is one thing, but you also want a tree, hedge or shrub that looks good.


Purdue University Extension

Taking Care of Your Yard: The Homeowners Essential Guide to Lawns, Trees, Shrubs and Garden Flowers

University of Tennessee Extension

Evergreen Trees For Screens and Hedges in the Landscape

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