Planting trees in your garden is great for adding more privacy, screening unappealing buildings, or even a way to bring more wildlife into your garden. Others may prefer growing hedges or other screening options, but in this article, you will find the best trees for garden privacy that we recommend bringing more colour and life to your garden for maximum privacy.
5. Holm oak
6. Tree privet
8. Black Bamboo
12. Birch (Betula)
15. English Yew
Where to grow the best trees for garden privacy
Trees not only benefit the planet, but make for a wonderful addition to all garden spaces: they change with the seasons, follow the direction of the wind, and can provide a home for many wonderful forms of wildlife. In this list, you will find the best trees for garden privacy are evergreen trees.
No matter whether you want to add more shade to your garden in the summer when you may use it most, many forms of evergreen trees will do the job. Deciduous trees are another great example of trees that will last throughout all seasons, even the winter. With enough space, mixing in beautiful evergreen and deciduous trees will provide just the right cover for your garden, as well as bringing in other great features, too.
Although you may wish to plant trees around the edge of your property to help with seclusion, this can still lead to problems such as upsetting your neighbors. In fact, your neighbors have a right to cut off the tree or hedge [i]if it is on their side. Instead, you should plan your tree planting with precision, and start with a smaller tree instead.
This way, you can also create an outstanding focal point for your garden, and when placed correctly, will help to blot out any ugly attractions in or out of your garden, and you can enjoy your small tree grow into a big one for years to come.
How to plant the best trees for garden privacy
Growing container grown trees in the spring and autumn are the best times to grow a tree, especially since soil will be both the warmest and most moist for plant growth.
When planting a tree in your garden, you should:
- Stake the tree. This will help prevent windrock and protect the roots from the elements. The stake should be a third of the size of the tree you choose, and make sure to hammer it at a 45° angle. Once you have attached the trunk to the stake securely, this should be left on for a year to ensure the tree goes healthy and straight.
- Regular watering: Make sure to keep watering your tree, especially during dry spells throughout its first year of growth. From then on when the tree grows and matures, the only water it will need is from rainfall.
How to care for the best trees for maximum garden privacy
You should prune your tree whilst it is growing, as this will help to enhance its natural shape. As you grow it, pruning it will make it easier to remove dead or rotten branches and keep the tree in healthy condition.
When growing evergreen trees, these will become most shaped in the summer. Deciduous trees should be pruned when at their most dormant, that being between November and March.
Tips for buying the best trees for garden privacy
When preparing to buy a tree for garden privacy, you need to decide what kind of tree you want (already discussed), evergreen or deciduous. If you need help deciding, evergreen trees work best for garden privacy when grown all-year round, whereas deciduous trees are more effective for garden privacy in warmer months.
- Measure the maximum height that the tree will spread to, and check that it will not damage nearby walls or buildings as it grows.
- Check your tree’s growth rate and think about what you want most from your tree purchase for garden privacy. Fast-growing varieties are on your list, but do you want them to be large as well?
- What are the maintenance requirements for your tree?
- Monitor the shape of the grown and density of the tree’s foliage. Certain-sized crowns can make a difference, and even the foliage can shape whether the tree will provide more shade or let in less or lighter than others.
- Check that the soil you choose for the tree is appropriate for its growing conditions.
- What other properties are important for your tree for garden privacy? Will it spring flowers, add nice colour in the autumn, and bring value to wildlife?
Where to buy the best trees for garden privacy
To find out where you can purchase the right tree for garden privacy for you, check the following websites.
Evergreen Trees for Privacy & Screening
Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a tree for garden privacy, here are the evergreen trees for screening that we highly recommend to bring vibrant colour and life to your garden.
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1. Italian cypress
The Italian cypress (cupressus sempervirens) is a great, tall plant that is perfect for screening alongside taller buildings, and one of the best trees for garden privacy. It may not be the best alongside a home, but for offices and other large buildings, it will do just the trick. The Italian cypress also has a Mediterranean, contemporary feel to it, and if you keep watering it for its first few years of growth, the results will pay off in the future.
Height and spread: 10m x 1m.
Position: In full or partial sun; sheltered areas.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium) has always been a popular tree to grow and will add plenty of shade, due to its dark green leaves, alongside its red berries; perfect as one of the best trees for garden privacy. The holly tree comes in different varieties with many assortment of shapes and leaf colours. If you want more colour added to your tree, grow a female holly tree plant that distributes red berries. Holly can also be trimmed to have a more formal shape if you wish. This tree is great for adding interest in the winter and can be clipped to create a wonderful shape.
Height and spread: 15m x 4m (can change when clipped.
Position: Add to moist, well-drained soil and in position of full or shaded sun.
You can find photinias (Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’) in a form of either an evergreen tree or shrub, and therefore, one of the best trees for garden privacy. They are widely recognised for their beautiful foliage, which mixes in colour including deep green, red, and bronze, and varies from plant to plant. Photinias are fast-growing trees, require low-maintenance, and will tolerate different types of soil and growing conditions. In summer, it can also produce frothy white flowers, and can be purchased either as a lollipop tree or pleached tree.
Height and spread: 4m x 4m.
Position: Grow in full sun or partial shade. Add moist, well-drained soil.
4. (Cherry) Laurel
Also known as the English laurel, cherry laurel is another evergreen tree that we highly recommend here for adding privacy and screening to your garden. The cherry laurel is incredibly dense and grows at an astoundingly fast rate. With glossy, dark green foliage, a lush aesthetic, and low-maintenance features that make it tolerable for different soil and growing conditions, cherry laurel certainly makes it on our list of best trees for garden privacy. Even better, cherry laurel sprouts small white flowers during the spring, and have a wonderous aroma. What more could you ask for? One of the best trees for garden privacy on this list.
Height and spread: 8m x 8m.
Position: Add in sun or partial shade with moist, well-drained soil.
5. Holm oak
Holm oak (Quercus ilex) commonly known as a holly oak or an evergreen oak, is very versatile and attractive form of tree that makes it ideal for screening and garden privacy. With a rounded crown and leaves not too dissimilar from holly, this also makes holm oak suitable for coastal gardens too, and is tolerable for salt spray and strong winds, therefore suitable for a windbreak for your other garden plants. You can also trim your holm oak into different shapes to suit your garden size and create plenty of elegance and sophistication that makes it ideal for one of the best trees for garden privacy.
Height and spread: 25m x 25m (can be clipped)
Position: Ideal for urban, coastal, or exposed gardens. Plant in well-drained soil in full or partial sun.
6. Tree privet
Tree privet (Ligustrum japonicum) is incredibly versatile and perfect for saving space in your garden, making it even easier to use for adding screening privacy to your garden borders. If you want a tree to add privacy from neighbors, the tree privet is an ideal choice, especially with how it can be grown close to walls, buildings, and other structures, whilst also not occupying too much garden space. Other features of a tree privet include its long, pointed leaves, and white flowers which sprout in the autumn. If you want a tree that is colourful and transcends across all seasons, the tree privet is the best trees for garden privacy to fulfill this task.
Height and spread: 7m x 1m.
Position: Suitable for most varieties of soil; add in full or partial sun.
Hornbeam (Carpinus betalus) is a tree native to the UK, with features that includes colours of apple green, pleated foliage that turns yellow and orange in the autumn and can even be retained in the winter in appropriated, sheltered spots. Hornbeam can also withstand harsher conditions, due to its hardy properties. In the spring, hornbeam also produces catkins and winged nuts (samaras) which develop in the autumn and will bring further beauty to your garden. Your neighbors will be envious when they see you have chosen this tree to be dominant in adding screening and privacy to your garden. Whilst hornbeam, is not evergreen, what coverage is lost in the winter will be regained in strength during spring.
Height and spread: 10m x 6m.
Position: Add in full or partial sun, with moist, well-drained soil.
8. Black Bamboo
The black bamboo is an eye-catching alternative to the lively golden bamboo and has black canes that will appear during its second and third year of growth. So why does it make it on this list of the best trees for garden privacy? As it is a bamboo plant, it grows rapidly, and therefore, will deliver quick results for those looking for trees to add privacy to their garden.
Height and spread: 4m x 3m.
Position: Plant in moist, well-drained, and fertile soil, in full or partial shade.
9. Japanese Privet Tree
Fancy adding a bit of the orient to your garden? A Japanese Privet tree might be the right option for you. Japanese privet trees are an evergreen shrub, and will work better for smaller gardens, and therefore, can be clipped steadily to suit this environment. Mix in different cultures such as with the Japanese privet tree in order to shape up this range of the best trees for garden privacy.
Height and spread: 10ft x 6ft.
Position: Choose slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil (pH range between 6-7.5) mixed with sandy loam or clay. It can cope with sea winds, in full or partial sun.
10. Magnolia Grandiflora Tree
Also known as an evergreen magnolia, a magnolia grandiflora tree will bring plenty of natural screen and privacy to any garden setting, and is undoubtedly one of the best trees for garden privacy.
With its large, dark glossy green leaves and brown velvet-textured undersides, this tree will be visually appealing throughout the year. During the summer, your magnolia grandiflora will produce large, creamy, white-coloured flowers that will bring both a range of beauty and sweet scents to your garden. Make sure to keep your magnolia grandiflora tree thrives in the summer with plenty of fertile soil. Keep it trimmed and shaped so that it can perfectly fit in any sized garden, and bring the screening conditions that you need for garden privacy.
Height and spread: 20m x 24m.
Position: Rich, organic, and well-drained soil with a pH scale of 5.5-6.5. Place in full sun or partial shade.
11. Crabapple (Malus)
Although crabapples are widely grown throughout Europe and USA, they are still suitable to grow in the UK too. They are great for adding screening and privacy to a garden due to its wonderous spring blossoms and fruits that grow in autumn. Crabapples are also known to make a great home for wildlife as well. They can grow up to a maximum height of 39ft and is suitable for rural and urban surroundings. If you want to make your tree more vibrant and colourful in your garden for more privacy and screening from neighbors, then the crabapple is a great candidate to choose.
Height and spread: Main crabapple varieties can grow up to 6m, whilst dwarf varieties can grow up to 3m.
Position: Crabapples prefer well-drained, rich soil with organic matter. Plant in an open space.
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12. Birch (Betula)
With their striking bark properties which stand out in the winter, a birch tree is worth the investment for bringing brighter or darker colours to your garden, making them more effective for screening and privacy purposes. You may commonly see a birch tree when out for a woodland walk, but adding it to your garden will make it for one of the best trees for garden privacy tree.
Other varieties of birth tree include the chalk-white coloured birch (Betula papyrifera) and Betula ‘Doorenbos’ which have become increasingly popular but require more maintenance and careful planning than other birch specimens.
Height and spread: 8m x 10m (first 10 years); 18m x 4m (20 years); 25m x 10m (ultimate).
Position: Moist, well-drained, fertile soil, added to exposed, windy, wet, or dry conditions.
13. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida)
If you are looking to add screening and privacy to a smaller garden, flowering dogwood is the right choice for you. It can be planted as close as 10ft away from any building, and is brilliant for landscaping, especially since it is visually appealing throughout the year. In the spring, it will produce white bracts, whilst in the autumn, the foliage will turn a vibrant reddish-purple tone. Flowering dogwood also produces red fruits which will attract winter songbirds. If you want to attract more wildlife to your garden as well, flowering dogwood will satisfy you in this way.
Height and spread: 10m x 9m.
Position: Use well-drained, rich soil with neutral to slightly acidic pH.
14. Thuja occidentalis & plicata
We believe that both the Western Red, and White cedar trees deserve a mention on this list. For the White Cedar, it is an evergreen conifer that is very attractive and compact in appearance. Its reddish-brown bark can be peeled off into thin strips. Because it is so dense, you cannot afford to miss adding this tree as a property for screening and garden privacy.
The Western Red Cedar tree has similar properties to the White Cedar, but also produces dark green scales, as well as being tolerable to frost and will tolerate urban pollution when grown within those conditions.
Height and spread: 20-25m x 12m[ii].
Position: Use well-drained soil; add mulch for more growth benefits. Plant near a structure or pathway.
15. English Yew
The English yew is a common evergreen yew tree and is very timeless due to its elegance and longevity. If you prune the English yew at the start of spring, it will rejuvenate incredibly well. Because it can grow back fast after pruning and provide excellent results, makes it a perfect option for being used for hedging, as well as screening and adding privacy to a garden. Some varieties of English yew[iii] will produce small red berries and will provide a great source of food for wildlife.
Height and spread: 15-20m x 15m.
What tree will provide the best privacy for your garden?
Most trees included in this list are relatively easy to grow and prune. Most of them will tolerate most varieties of soil and growing conditions. Of course, you do not want a tree for garden privacy that is going to require too much maintenance, hence why we have included the fifteen best to choose. The trees included here are mostly self-sufficient, and whilst you should water them regularly in their first few years of growth, it will benefit in the long run. Evergreen trees will not lose their leaves, and their dense foliage makes them the perfect choice for screening and garden privacy.
To choose the right tree for privacy and screening, it should grow to at least 2m tall.
How far should you plant a tree for privacy from your house?
Some important things to consider before purchasing a tree for garden privacy, is to make sure that your tree is not planted too close to a structure in case it can damage the building. This can be affected by heavy clay soil which, if dried out, can cause the soil to shrink and cause damage to a property. This is only one in a number of other issues you could face when growing your tree, so make sure you consult an expert first before you consider planting a tree for garden privacy.
Choose the Best Trees for Privacy in your Garden
Choosing the right tree for your garden to blot out those nosy neighbors and promote screening is not a difficult choice. In fact, more people are choosing to make their garden more private, and having a tree is the perfect place to start. No matter what size your garden is, there are many varieties of tree that you can choose from, as shown in this list. Once you have chosen which tree you would like to use, make sure to consult a tree expert before adding it to your garden, so that it can be correctly measured and ensure that it won’t cause structural damage, but will keep those nosy neighbors away in the right areas.
What are the best trees for creating privacy in my garden?
Some of the best trees for creating privacy in a garden include Leyland Cypress, Thuja Green Giant, Arborvitae, American Holly, and Eastern Red Cedar. These trees are evergreen, fast-growing, and have dense foliage, making them ideal for creating a natural privacy screen.
How tall should the trees be to create privacy in my garden?
The height of the trees needed to create privacy in a garden depends on the size of the garden and the desired level of privacy. Generally, trees that are at least 6-8 feet tall when planted can create a good level of privacy within a few years.
How far apart should I plant the trees to create a privacy screen?
The spacing between trees depends on the species and the size of the tree at maturity. Generally, evergreen trees for privacy should be spaced 6-10 feet apart. If you want faster results, you can plant them closer together, but keep in mind that they will need more pruning in the future to maintain their shape and health.
What are some other benefits of using trees for privacy in my garden?
In addition to providing privacy, trees can also help to reduce noise pollution, improve air quality, and create shade in your garden. They can also increase the value of your property and create a more attractive landscape.
[i] Citizens Advice. (n.d.). If you disagree with your neighbour about a tree or hedge. [Accessed 26/04/23] Retrieved from: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/problems-where-you-live/if-you-disagree-with-your-neighbour-about-a-tree-or-hedge/#:~:text=Your%20neighbour%20can%20cut%20any,whether%20you%20do%20the%20work.
[ii] Home Guides. (n.d.). Preparing the Spot for a Cedar Tree. [Accessed 26/04/23] Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/preparing-spot-cedar-tree-29312.html
[iii] Amazon. (n.d._ English Yew, Taxus baccata, Tree 10 Seeds. [26/04/2023] Received from: https://www.amazon.ca/English-Taxus-baccata-Evergreen-Topiary/dp/B00WFTQA9O
Ryan Jenkins is a professional gardener and has been working in the gardening industry for over 25 years. This has allowed Ryan to accumulate a vast wealth of gardening knowledge which he shares on the Sefton Meadows blog.