The Best Privacy Trees for Your Yard
“Privacy—like eating and breathing—is one of life’s basic requirements.” –Katherine Neville
“People don’t know the half of it, but they don’t need to know either”—that’s a saying that pretty much every homeowner can attest to. Your home is your sanctuary; your property deserves to be your personal fortress. Privacy trees allow this goal to manifest as a reality. The best privacy trees provide shelter and privacy from the nosy outside world, but they also help protect your property from excessive wind, noise, and sun. Privacy trees are often cherished for their quick growth rate, their aesthetic qualities, and their dense foliage.
Read on to discover our best privacy trees below and pick your favorites…
- Green Giant Arborvitae. Aristocratic, low-maintenance, and sturdy, the Green Giant Arborvitae is a tried-and-tested trouble-free favorite when it comes to choosing a resilient and fast-growing privacy tree. While this gentle giant is a non-flowering specimen—characterized instead by its cinnamon-colored bark, flattened lateral branchlets, and woody seed cones—its needled foliage and pyramidal structure enable it to serve as either a handsome hedge or a stand-alone specimen. Reminiscent of classic Christmas trees, the vigorous evergreen Thuja standishii x plicata “Green Giant”’s cheery green and luxuriously thick foliage makes it a fantastic privacy-promoting living wall. Shop Green Giant Arborvitae.
- Emerald Green Arborvitae. True to its name, the evergreen Emerald Green Arborvitae is a beautiful landscaping jewel of a tree that serves as a stand-alone burst of breathtaking color or as an aligned tight-growing hedge. Belonging to the Cupressaceae family, the Thuja occidentalis “Emerald Green” (or “Smaragd”; the latter epithet being the Dutch word for “emerald") is native to most of the central and upper northeastern United States. Due to its lush jade-green color, its symmetrical and narrowly pyramidal structure, and its respective hardiness, the Emerald Green Arborvitae can serve as an effective privacy screen and as a durable windbreaker. It can alternatively be planted as a spectacular accent tree, as an anchor tree for lawn corners, or even within large decorative pots to flank and brighten a doorstep. Shop Emerald Green Arborvitae.
- Eastern White Pine. Distinguished as the tallest tree of eastern North America, the easily maintained Eastern White Pine can function as an extremely impressive specimen for parks and lawns, and is coveted as both a spectacular privacy tree and shade tree. Its greatest growth spurt (roughly three feet per year) occurs between Pinus strobus’ 15th and 45th years. In pre-colonial stands, some specimens of this “Tree of Peace” (as it was known among the Iroquois tribes) were reported to grow up to a skyscraping 230 ft. The tallest current champion, as recorded by the Native Tree Society, stands at a remarkable 188 ft. Its typical height ranges 50 to 80 ft. Shop Eastern White Pine.
- Cryptomeria Radicans (Japanese Cedar). Extremely fast-growing, drought-tolerant, and aesthetically pleasing, Cryptomeria japonica “Radicans”—otherwise known as the Japanese Cedar—is a very popular landscaping choice. True to its binomial name, it can act as the ideal natural screen or hedge, capable of providing plenty of privacy (cryptomeria literally means “hidden place” in Greek). Its feathery blue-green foliage, composed of evergreen needles set in a herringbone pattern, transforms to gorgeous rich hues of violet-tinged bronze in the winter, ensuring magnificent colors all year round. This privacy tree makes for a lovely hedge or backdrop, offering year-round vibrant color and gentle texture. Shop Japanese Cedar.
- Nellie Stevens Holly. The Nellie Stevens Holly has earned a reputation for being a handsome, wholesome, hardy specimen that can be grown as an exemplary hedge. This privacy tree may serve as a spectacular living wall that ensures privacy and serves as a hardy wind-barrier; it is fast-growing with a fantastic growth spurt of 2-3 ft. per year, and can be effortlessly cultivated to your liking. Unlike most other hedge trees, Ilex x “Nellie R. Stevens” retains its rejuvenating dark jade foliage throughout the entire year, showcasing a spectacular splash of green even during summer’s dry spell and winter’s cold onslaught. In the winter, the Nellie Stevens Holly’s luscious little coppery-crimson berries give the tree a festive air; in the spring, a patchwork of gorgeous tiny white blossoms festoon the tree’s slim branches. Shop Nellie Stevens Holly.
- Leyland Cypress. Arguably the most popular privacy tree in the nation, the Leyland Cypress is a fast-growing specimen with beautiful symmetry that accentuates and morphs your yard into the perfect sanctuary. Easily planted and maintained, the vibrant Leyland Cypress is resilient to most pests and severe weather conditions. Its dark feathery foliage grows dense and lush to literally create a living privacy wall, also serving as a reliable wind- and noise-breaker. As attractive as it is functional, Cupressus x leylandii can furthermore serve as a stunning Christmas tree come winter. Shop Leyland Cypress.
- Little Gem Magnolia. Fusing the fast-growing, resilient nature of magnolias with a profusion of sumptuous flowers, the Little Gem Magnolia can become your ideal privacy tree and easily the crowning jewel of your garden! Nearly winter-proof, the tough Little Gem Magnolia is in full bloom for almost half the year, flaunting large creamy-white flowers that charmingly speckle the tree and boast a bewitching fragrance. Its glossy dark foliage is another source of beauty, with a bronze sheen on the leaves’ fuzzy undersides. Narrowly columned, densely leaved, and generously fragrant, Magnolia grandiflora “Little Gem” makes for the perfect living wall. Shop Little Gem Magnolia.
Lewis Carroll is quoted to have said, “If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.” This sentiment holds true to this day—and a living privacy wall is a major step in helping you achieve (or retain!) the sacred privacy of your home. Within our lush nursery, we cultivate and provide a healthy and vigorous array of dependable and gorgeous privacy trees that are most optimal for your property; we’re here to help you tailor your selection to your exact needs.
- Jackie Errico