Privacy Trees: 8 Best Trees for Privacy This Summer

Blair Brown — Aug 17, 2022

The weather is warming up, and the days are growing longer. Luckily, that means a return to the great outdoors! Now that we're getting back outside for the season, it’s time to plan and landscape. One of our favorite parts of landscaping? Privacy trees!

The best privacy trees work as living fences. They're lush, aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly, and have eye-catching foliage. Plus, privacy trees block noise, clean the air, and last year after year.

Considerations When Choosing a Privacy Tree

So, what makes a good tree for privacy? There are a few key factors:

  • Fast growth: Most people don't want to wait forever to achieve the privacy they're looking for. Fast-growing privacy trees will grow up to several feet each year, making them the best choice for quick privacy!
  • Evergreen foliage: You need privacy all year round (deciduous trees may not be your best bet). Evergreen trees will retain their thick foliage no matter the season—meaning no gaps in your privacy. 
  • No pruning required: If you're looking for a privacy tree without the maintenance, you'll likely want to plant trees that will maintain a neat shape, even if you don't do much pruning.
  • Shade: Taller privacy trees will deliver plenty of shade when planted together. Even in smaller landscapes, a handful of trees will be enough to give you both privacy and relief from the harsh sun.

Not All Yards Are the Same

While most privacy trees should be fast growing, evergreen, low maintenance, and shady, it's important to consider your yard conditions and landscaping needs. Here are a couple things to think about when picking your privacy trees:

Privacy Tree Planting Conditions

Decide where you're planting your trees beforehand. Then, ask yourself:

  • Does this space get all-day, partial, or little sunlight?
  • Is the soil moist or dry? Is it sandy or full of clay? Is it nutrient rich or deficient?
  • Will it be competing with a lot of other trees and plants? 

If your yard doesn't get much sunlight, then you won't want to choose a Leyland Cypress. But if your soil is moist and swampy, you'll have way more success with a Willow Hybrid. 

Privacy Preferences and HOAs

If you live in a homeowners association (HOA), take some time to find out if there are any rules against privacy trees (who wants to have to prune a Green Giant to stay under 8 feet?). And no matter where you live, think about why you're planting your privacy trees.

  • Do you want lots of shade?
  • Do you want partial coverage (like a natural screen), or a impenetrable wall of privacy?
  • How tall do you want your privacy trees to grow?

Available Space and Time to Maintain Your Privacy Trees

Not everyone wants a high-commitment yard. Even small yards can become too time consuming with certain privacy trees.

  • How much time do you want to spend watering and pruning your trees?
  • How much space do you have for your privacy trees to spread into (this impacts pruning time)?

Some trees, like the Emerald Green Arborvitae, stay relatively skinny (even after reaching a mature height of 15 feet), making them perfect low-maintenance privacy trees for tight spaces.

Our Favorite Privacy Trees (There's Something for Everyone)

Below, we've curated our top recommendations for privacy trees this summer!

1. Wax Myrtle

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Adaptable to most soils
Mature H x W (max) 15 ft. x 15 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 3-5 ft.
Growing Zones 7-11

Let's start with the perfect solution for smaller landscapes: the Wax Myrtle. The Wax Myrtle's dense foliage and quick-growing habit make it ideal for privacy hedging, especially when it's shaped and planted in groups. Plus, their leaves and berries are fragrant, so they're pleasing to more than one of the senses!

Wax Myrtles

Plant your Wax Myrtles where they will get full to partial shade. Arrange them in a row to define your property line, or plant just one to accent your front patio. And if you have a back patio or pool, Wax Myrtles are ideal for adding greenery around the areas to make the space feel more comfortable.

2. Leyland Cypress

Sunlight Needs Full Sun
Soil Needs Nutrient-rich, moist soil
Mature H x W (max) 60 ft. x 25 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 3-4 ft.
Growing Zones 6-10

With Leylands, you get deep green, feathery foliage that creates a soft emerald wall to block out the neighbors. Leylands have a uniform, symmetrical shape that keeps its form naturally (though you can trim them to easily shape them into a dense hedge). Even better? These tall trees will grow 3 to 5 feet a year when planted in full sun, and they mature to heights of 40 to 60 feet with hardly any effort.

For a dense screen and nonstop shade, plant your Leyland Cypress Trees about 6 feet apart. And Leyland Cypresses will adapt to a variety of different soils, even if they’re sandy or heavy in clay, as long as they’re well-draining. Once planted, these hardy trees will spring up into a solid privacy wall before you know it.

3. Emerald Green Arborvitae

Sunlight Needs Full Sun
Soil Needs Moist soil (to get established)
Mature H x W (max) 15 ft. x 4 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 2-3 ft.
Growing Zones 3-8

One of the most popular fast growing privacy trees, the Emerald Green Arborvitae is a classic. It stays under 4 feet wide, even after reaching maturity at 15 feet tall. We would consider it a space-saving privacy tree because it can fit in nearly any yard. It's also surprisingly hardy and low maintenance once established, so you won't have to worry about it approximately 6 months after planting.

4. Willow Hybrid

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Moist soil (to get established)
Mature H x W (max) 75 ft. x 10 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 4-6 ft.
Growing Zones 4-9

Known for handling nearly any climate or conditions, our Willow Hybrids are the quintessential plant-and-forget privacy trees. Despite their deciduous nature (meaning they do drop their leaves during winter), they're chosen for their fast-growing and disease-resistant qualities. And Willow Hybrid Trees have upright branches covered in lush green leaves, which fill in empty space for a thick privacy wall.

Willows have a quick growth rate of up to 6 feet per year and grow to about 35 to 45 feet if planted in rows and left untrimmed.

Best of all, they won’t need any extra water, except during times of drought. Willow Hybrids also have a lot of success growing in swampy and extremely wet areas. If your yard is prone to flooding, consider the Willow Hybrid.

5. Thuja Green Giant

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Nutrient-rich, moist soil
Mature H x W (max) 50 ft. x 15 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 3-5 ft.
Growing Zones 5-8

A growth rate of 3 to 5 feet per year and mature heights of 30 to 50 feet set the Thuja Green Giant apart, meaning it lives up to its 'giant' name. Thujas serve as an excellent backdrop for your landscape, with a dark green hue and soft foliage that stand in well for traditional fencing.

As an added bonus, deer don’t enjoy the soft, feathery Thuja foliage. Plus, Thujas are not only pest resistant but disease resistant too.

Shimmering Foliage

Plant your Thujas in an area that receives full to partial sunlight, and make sure they’re about 5 feet apart for a privacy screen. They will adapt to your natural soil, as long as it’s well draining. Sandy soils or soil that’s heavy in clay will be fine. Thujas don’t need any fertilizer, growing just fine on their own. Is there anything better than privacy trees with no fuss?

6. Spartan Juniper

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Adaptable to most soils
Mature H x W (max) 20 ft. x 5 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 1-2 ft.
Growing Zones 5-9

If you’re looking for durable, low-maintenance evergreen privacy trees, consider planting a row of Spartan Juniper Trees. Fast-growing and highly resistant to extreme heat and cold, de-icing salt and even drought, the Juniper tree is ideal for landscape areas where space is at a premium, since these trees have dense branches that remain tight to the trunk.

7. Multiplex Bamboo

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Nutrient-rich, moist soil
Mature H x W (max) 30 ft. x 6 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 10 ft.
Growing Zones 7-10

While bamboo trees might not be the first species that come to mind when shopping for fast growing privacy trees, if you’re looking for a modern, eco-friendly way to block sight lines, Multiplex Bamboo might just be the perfect option.

With an Asian-inspired look, Multiplex Bamboo can add a much-needed burst of color to your backyard. Reaching heights of up to 30 feet and suitable for growing zones 6-10, this bamboo can grow as far north as New York City!

While some varieties of bamboo can spread quickly and are considered invasive, varieties that are "clumping," rather than "spreading," can create a privacy fence that won't accidentally creep into your neighbor's yard. Multiplex Bamboo is one such variety!

8. Holly Trees

Sunlight Needs Full-Partial
Soil Needs Moist soil

Mature H x W (max)

25 ft. x 15 ft.
Annual Growth Rate 10 ft.
Growing Zones 6-9

Note: The information above applies to one of the most popular varieties, the Nellie Stevens Holly.

Available in more than 18 eye-catching varieties, holly trees are surging in popularity among homeowners who want fast-growing privacy trees that develop tight, dense foliage that’s virtually impossible to see through.

 

The Oak Leaf Holly Tree is cold hardy down to 0 degrees and drought tolerant, making it ideal for planting in growing zones 6-9. If you’re looking for trees for privacy that attract birds, you’ll love the Nellie Stevens Holly, a fast-growing Holly tree that reaches heights of 15-25 feet and widths ranging from 8-15 feet.

Better yet, all types of holly trees are easy to grow, and while they can be shaped into a dense hedge with regular pruning, they do just fine without any maintenance whatsoever.

The Best Plants for Year-Round Privacy

Whether you go for the Leyland, the Thuja, or a mix of privacy plants, you'll have made the right decision with any tree on this list. Check out our full Privacy Tree Collection to discover more than 100 types of privacy trees available for online order. Snag your own privacy trees to add property value, aesthetic appeal, and refreshing shade to your landscape today!

Privacy Trees FAQs

What is the fastest-growing tree for privacy?

Many trees preferred for privacy are fast-growing, growing up to several feet in a single year. Arborvitaes and Leyland Cypress trees are two of the most popular picks for fast-growing privacy.

What makes a good privacy hedge?

If you're looking for a short privacy hedge, evergreen shrubs like Wax Myrtle, Hollies and Boxwoods can make an excellent choice.

What are some small garden trees for privacy?

There are many smaller privacy trees that stay more narrow and compact, including the Baby Giant and Junior Giant Thuja Trees, as well as smaller shrubs like Hollies.

What is the most low-maintenance privacy tree?

While many trees designed for privacy are relatively low-maintenance, you'll find that Arborvitaes are one of the most low-maintenance trees you can plant.
Blair Brown

Blair is the Content Marketing Manager at FastGrowingTrees.com, and though she's not your traditional gardener, the planting world is definitely growing on her (pun intended!). She's enjoyed digging into plant care and maintenance and growing her plant collection, especially with exotic indoor varieties.

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