Privacy Trees

by Donovan
(Toronto Canada)

I dislike using wood fences,besides Cedars, what types of privacy trees are best?


Here are some privacy trees you can use:
White Pine (will loose bottom branches over time, so will have to fill in with evergreen shrubs).
Norway Spruce - this gets quite wide and may not be a good choice, unless you have lots of room.
Leyland Cypress - check to see if this grows in your plant zone. Not my favorite as the shape is not defined enough for me, but it's a fast grower.

These are just a few. (See link below).

Be sure to check the mature widths of these trees. You don't have to go by that exactly since many take forever to get to be that size, but take it into consideration. Most people want privacy plants that grow quickly. Please visit my page on Fast Growing Trees.

Another option, which I talk about on the above mentioned page, is to use deciduous trees. They will work as privacy trees if you use them in conjunction with shrubs in front. Of course it depends on what you are trying to screen out, how tall it is, and if you need to screen it only in the summer months or all year long.

I like to stagger the trees if there is room to do so to create more of a curvilinear bedline rather than a straight row of trees. Also, it's nice to add other plants into the mix. If you need total privacy, you can add these plants in front of the trees used for screening.

An ornamental tree here and there, interesting shrubs (I love Red Twig Dogwood in front of evergreens), and perennials for color. Now you have a creative design, rather than just a row of trees.

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Back Yard Trees and Privacy Plants

by Rod
(Atl., GA USA)

I need to block a road in my backyard with privacy trees/plants and we are not big fans of Leyland Cypress. What can we do?

It depends how much room you have. If you have the space, I really like Deodar Cedar or American Holly. The latter is narrower. Let me know how much room you have. Please reply under the Comments. You can also visit my page Fast Growing Trees but check your plant zone to see if any you like are compatible.


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Privacy fence

by Pam
(Knoxville Tennessee)

My neighbors behind me have a 5 ft fence but, I still have a perfect view of the back of their house. I am trying to sell my house and people don't like the view of the house behind me. Is there something I can put up on my side to block the view. It is about 40 yards wide and needs to be really tall. I planted leyland cypress trees but they are not tall enough yet. Can I have some type of fence or shielding to block the view?

The problem is that it takes time for plants to grow, and that's the only thing that will aesthetically work. You could purchase some VERY large trees to do this. Pine trees can be bought quite large at a reasonable price compared to other evergreen trees. You'll have to shop around.


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Need more privacy in the woods

Our neighbors behind us just clear cut their lot which is a large hill that slopes down to our property. They have regraded it and are using it as a ski area, (They even light it up at night!) so we would like to restore the privacy we used to have between our houses. We have about 150-200 feet of light woods (typical New England mix of large pine, oak, maples etc.) on our relatively flat property right up to the property line. Is it possible to plant trees in the woods and if so what would you recommend that would be fast growing and give us the privacy at the height we need due to the slope? Are there any special tips we need to know to plant trees in the woods to not damage any other trees? We would like it to look as natural as possible. Many thanks for any advice you may provide.


The problem with planting trees in already established woods is the shade that is there. I would recommend planting some additional Pine trees where there are gaps in the woods to allow some light in. If this is not possible, then you might consider removing some of the weaker trees to provide room for the Pines and light.

I recommend Pine trees for a few reasons.
1. This tree variety already exists so they will blend in nicely and look natural.

2. They are very fast growing. You may not realize this since you have existing Pine trees, but you will be amazed at how fast they grow.

3. Pine trees are evergreen so they will provide privacy in the winter to block the "skiing" and lights.

If you have room on the neighbor's edge of the woods, you also might consider planting some Norway Spruce. They are slower growing but will give a more dense screen along with the Pines.

If you do use Norway Spruce, be sure to plant them at the rear of the woods rather than the front so that your woods are not blocked. Your property will seem larger.

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Where to put a Privacy Fence

by Don Clendenin
(Stamford, CT)

Should I position a privacy or picket fence so that it attaches to the front corner or the back corner of the house?


Hi Don,
You could really do either. If you attach the fence to the front corner, the areas on the sides of your house will be accessible from the back and also usable space. It will make your back yard look larger.

If you attach the fencing to the rear house corners, Your front yard will seem more spacious as there is nothing cutting it off.

Will the space on your side yards be space that you will use, ie., kids running around, a dog, gardens, etc.? If not, you might as well attach it to the rear corners.

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Getting backyard privacy around River Birch

I would like to have more privacy between our yard and my neighbors to the side of us. It is a west location but shaded by a River Birch and Oak on our side and a Bradford Pear on their side. Since it is so shaded, I did not know what to plant and want the area open for a hammock between the River Birch and Oak. There is only about 5 feet of yard that we own in back of the River Birch. Do you have any suggestions for privacy? I was thinking possibly a few strategically placed lattice panels. The area I would like to have privacy is only about 20 feet in length.


Heavily shaded areas are always a little bit more difficult to plant. However, there are some nice ones.

First, I like your idea of lattice panels. That would provide some architectural interest. In front of them you could plant Hydrangea(deciduous), Leucothoe(evergreen) or Viburnum(deciduous).

Since you only have 20 feet, I would stick with one variety. The Viburnum get the tallest. You might be able to plant some perennials in front of any of these plants....Hosta would work (as long as you don't have deer!)

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"Susan, what a pleasure it was to work with you. You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly! Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant . You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes. Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it !!! "
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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