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Best Fast Growing Privacy Trees for Your Yard


A row of evergreen privacy trees or shrubs can become a living fence that blocks noise, reduces air pollution, slows the wind, and, most noteworthy, hides an unwanted view. It isn’t hard to grow a privacy screen and it doesn’t take as long as you might think.

First of all, decide how tall your privacy screen needs to be. You may be able to get by with a 6-8 foot hedge, or you may need a taller living wall of majestic conifers.

Our favorite trees for tall privacy screens are cone-bearing evergreens — such as cedars, cypress, junipers, and pines. Evergreen conifers tend to grow fast and have very low maintenance requirements, therefore needing less pruning.

Privacy fenceFor lower screens, a dense hedge of broadleaf evergreens just 6-8 feet high might be all you need. Evergreen shrubs spaced 2-4 feet apart will fill the bill nicely.

For low, hedge-like screens,
we recommend Walter viburnum, Boxwood, Podocarpus or any of the evergreen hollies such as Perfect Plant’s Oak Leaf Holly.

To create a classic, formal screen — plant a single species, evenly spaced, in a straight line. However, planting a mixture of different kinds of evergreens adds diversity and architectural interest to your landscape. Also, a mixture of species could minimize the spread of pests or diseases should they rear up. When considering the aesthetics, try planting in clusters rather than a simple straight line. Thuja ‘Green Giant’ makes one of the best fast growing evergreen screens. These beauties are capable of putting on 3-5 feet of height per year; they are adaptable to most soil types, and they are tolerant of drought. Leyland cypress is another good choice since they grow fast and quickly fill the gaps between individual trees spaced 5-8 feet apart.

privacy fenceNorway spruce and Colorado spruce are among the best for wind breaks. Japanese cedar, Italian cypress, American arborvitae, and Canadian hemlock are other good choices for tall privacy screens. Note that Canadian hemlock tolerates shade better than other conifers, but is not suitable for hot climates.

Emerald Green Arborvitae is popular because it doesn’t grow more than 2-3’ wide, and doesn’t require any pruning. privacy hedgeFor really big screens, consider Leyland Cypress and Excelsa Cedar (a cultivar of giant arborvitae), both of which can get up to 20’ wide. Douglas Fir and giant arborvitae get even bigger, growing as wide as forty feet at maturity.

When planting a privacy screen you should position the trees at least twelve feet away from your home or foundation. You will also want to stay at least six feet away from patios, fences, and other structures. If planting under a utility line you will want to use trees or shrubs that will not get too tall. Also, pay attention to their width at maturity and space your new plants as far apart as their mature width.

CultivarMature HeightMature WidthGrowth RateUSDA Zone

Spring Bouquet Viburnum 2

(Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’)

4-6′4-6′Mediumzone map - privacy

Schilling Holly 2

(Ilex vomitoria ‘Schilling’s Dwarf’)

4-7′6-10′Slowzone map - privacy

Edward Goucher Abelia 2

(Abelia x grandiflora ‘Edward Goucher’)

4-6′4-6′Mediumzone map - privacy

Boxwood 1-2

(Buxus microphylla)

5-6′5-6′Slowzone map - privacy

Dwarf Burford Holly 2

(Ilex cornuta ‘burfordii nana’)

5-8′5-8′Slowzone map - privacy

Japanese Holly 2

(Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’)

8-10′2-3′Slowzone map - privacy

Oak Leaf Holly 2

(Ilex x ‘Conaf’)

10-15′6-8′Slowzone map - privacy

Needlepoint Holly 2

(Ilex cornuta ‘Needlepoint’)

10-15′5-10′Fastzone map - privacy

Ocala Anise 2

(Illicium parvoflorum)

10-15′6-10′Mediumzone map - privacy

Walter Viburnum 1-2

(Viburnum obovatum)

10-15′8-12′Mediumzone map - privacy

Zhuzhou Loropetalum 2

(Loropetalum chinese rubrum ‘Zhuzhou’)


6-8′Mediumzone map - privacy

Emerald Green Arborvitae

(Thuja occidentals ‘Emerald Green’)

13-15′3-4′Mediumzone map - privacy

Hicksii Yew

(Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)

15-20′10-12′Slowzone map - privacy

Tea Olive 1-2

(Osmanthus fragrans)

15-30′10-20′Mediumzone map - privacy

Podocarpus 1-2

(Podocarpus macrophyllus)

20-35′10-15′Slowzone map - privacy

Rocky Mountain Juniper 1

(Juniperus scopulorum)


4-12′6-12″/yearzone map - privacy

Thuja Green Giant

(Thuja standishii x plicata)


10-12′3-5’/yearzone map - privacy

Sweet Viburnum 1-2

(Viburnum odoratissimum)

25-30′15-25′Fastzone map - privacy

Italian Cypress 1

(Cupressus sempervirens)


3-5′2-3’/yearzone map - privacy

American Arborvitae 1

(Thuja occidentalis)

30-50′10-15′Mediumzone map - privacy

Colorado Spruce 1

(Picea pungens)


10-20′Mediumzone map - privacy

English Yew 1

(Taxus baccata)

30-60′15-20′Slowzone map - privacy

Japanese Cedar 1

(Cryptomeria japonica)

30-60′15-30′2-3’/yearzone map - privacy

Eastern Red Cedar 1

(Juniperus virginiana)

40-50′8-20′Mediumzone map - privacy

Arizona Cypress 1

(Cupressus arizonica)

40-50′20-30′Mediumzone map - privacy

White Spruce 1

(Picea glauca)

40-60′15-20′Mediumzone map - privacy

Canadian Hemlock 1

(Tsuga canadensis)

40-70′25-35′Mediumzone map - privacy

Dawn Redwood

(Metasequoia glyptostropoides)

50-80′15-25′3-4’/yearzone map - privacy

Norway Spruce 1

(Picea abies)

50-80′20-30′2-3’/yearzone map - privacy

Leyland Cypress 1

(X Cupressocyparis leylandii)

60-70′15-20′3-4’/yearzone map - privacy

Giant Arborvitae 1

(Thuja plicata)

60-70′20-35′Mediumzone map - privacy

Douglas Fir Tree 1

(Pseudotsuga menziesii)

60-150′20-40′Mediumzone map - privacy

1 – Cultivars are available with smaller dimensions and/or narrower shapes;  2 – Broad-leaved evergreen trees

Hence, don’t forget that you will need to water the trees until they are well established (probably several months), consequently be sure to have a water source in place. Happy planting!

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