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Privacy Trees – Buying & Growing Guide

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by John Haryasz | Horticulture Writer and Landscape Designer – last update on December 2, 2021

Privacy is one of the most incredible benefits of having your own backyard space. One of the best ways to create privacy is by planting trees. Privacy trees use their foliage to block views and some sound from neighboring properties. Below you will find a few tree options that are ideal for that role.

Types of Privacy Trees

Type Growing Zone Mature Height Sun Features
American arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis 2-7 20-40 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Reliable foliage year-round and excellent cold hardiness
Boxwood, Buxus ‘Green Mountain’ 5-9 3-7 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Responds extremely well to shearing, dense foliage
Blue spruce,

Picea pungens

2-7 30-60 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Perfect cone shape, surprisingly vibrant needles
Rosebay rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum


3-7 5-15 feet Part shade to full shade: 4 hours or less Large flowers and broad, oval-shaped leaves
American holly, Ilex opaca 5-9 15-30 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Bright red berries and recognizable leaves
English yew, Taxus baccata  6-7 30-60 feet  Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Soft but dense needles, prominent red berries
Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana 2-9 30-60 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Attractive reddish bark, consistent foliage
Leyland cypress, Cupressus × leylandii 6-10 60-70 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Lovely oval shape and with dense evergreen foliage
Eastern white pine, Pinus strobus 3-8 50-80 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Long needles and noticeable cones
Norway spruce, Picea abies 2-7 40-60 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Large pyramidal form with pendulous needle clusters and cones


Benefits of Privacy Trees

The primary benefit of privacy trees is that they allow your outdoor living spaces to be peaceful and private. The most notable feature of these trees is they prevent people outside your garden from looking in. Most of the best privacy trees are evergreen, as they will add privacy all year. What is less appreciated about privacy trees is that they can also block noise and be very attractive. A dense hedge can muffle voices and other loud sounds. And while privacy is a practical matter, many of the plants you use to gain privacy will also offer you attractive foliage and flowers. 

How to Grow and Plant Privacy Trees

Unless there is one single angle that you hope to screen, the chances are you will need to plant multiple trees to create the privacy you need. In many cases, planting a row of privacy trees is the best way to achieve this. 

Focus on spacing and recognize that the closer you plant your trees, the sooner they grow together to create a continuous hedge. Each tree will need a distinct growing space. However, when planting for privacy, you should plant your trees a bit closer than you usually would. Reading the mature size of some trees may make you hesitant to grow them so closely. But remember that the goal of a privacy hedge is to create a continuous screen. The overlapping of multiple tree canopies is what you need to make that screen. 

Be strategic when choosing where to plant your privacy trees. Plant your privacy trees along the edges of your property or where they can obstruct the view you deem undesirable.