What Is the Right Privacy Screen for My Yard?

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.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/ or http://arboristblog.com/. They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296