By Nancy Penrose
Everyone wants to be able to relax and have fun in their yard with the same level of comfort and privacy they enjoy inside their own home. The best and most aesthetic way to achieve this is with a privacy screen of trees.
Privacy screen trees or hedges make up a sort of “living fence”. They help to obscure the view to your yard while also adding to the beauty of your landscape and local neighborhood. They also have a few other benefits, like reducing street noise and buffering against the wind and other weather conditions.
Here are some of our top picks for trees that do very well as privacy screen trees:
Emerald Green Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘emerald green’
This is one of the most popular privacy screen trees because they build a “wall of green” and take up very little yard space. They can get up to 18’ tall and 3’ wide, but you can trim them to stay at whatever height you want. A great choice for narrow planting areas. They are fairly slow growing and very low maintenance. These trees retain their deep green color all year round.
Excelsa Cedar Thuja plicata ‘excelsa’
This tree maintains its density and symmetrical form without growing to extreme heights (they average at a maximum height of 40’ tall and 15’ wide.) They grow 2-3’ a year and if you have the space, make an excellent privacy screen. These trees can be hedged as well, but since they are such fast growers, it is a little more maintenance than the Emerald Green Arborvitae
Green Giant Thuja standishii x plicata
This tree is a happy medium between the Emerald Green and Excelsa cedar. They can get up to 40’ tall, but only 8’ wide. This is a fast growing tree (about 2’ to 3’ a year) which makes for a very good substitute if you simply want a bigger Emerald Green Arborvitae. They tend to fill in and get more dense as they grow older. They have no serious pest or disease problems and are very hardy.
English Laurel Prunus laurocerasus ‘English Laurel’
This shrub is a vigorous grower and very hardy. It is one of the few evergreens with very broad leaves that are hardy in cold climates, and can tolerate shade. They can get 20’ tall and 15’ wide if not pruned annually.
Schipka Laurel Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’ Schipka Larel
A large evergreen shrub with dense, erect branches and brilliant green foliage. In spring it has fragrant white flowers and fruit that attract birds. A popular choice for formally pruned hedges, group plantings or privacy screens.
Portugal Laurel Prunus lusitanica ‘Portugal’ Laurel
The Portugal Laurel is a bushy, evergreen shrub or tree with dark green leaves (which are much smaller that the related, Prunus laurocerasus. It has reddish new shoots (stems) which look attractive against the dark green leaves. If left untrimmed it produces masses of small fragrant white flowers in early summer followed be small red to dark purple fruits.
Leyland Cypress Cupressocyparis leylandii
Last but not least is the Leyland Cypress, an excellent choice as a fast growing, large screening tree. Growing up to 3’ to 4’ per year, the Leyland Cypress fills in quickly (reaching heights of 60’ when fully mature). If you have enough room for the tree’s mature size, it requires very little maintenance. It also responds to shearing and works well as a hedge.
No matter what tree you find to be right for your yard, you will enjoy added comfort and beauty with a privacy screen of trees.