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The best privacy landscaping trees

Updated February 21, 2017

Even the friendliest neighbours need privacy from one another. Strategically selected and placed trees offer natural privacy from neighbours or sidewalks while adding character to your landscape. The best landscaping trees for privacy are tall trees with low branches and ample foliage obstructing prying eyes at standing height, as well as from upper-story windows.

Magnolia Trees

Judy Drake, a landscaping expert and owner of a landscaping design company, recommends magnolia trees as an ideal option for privacy trees A majority of the 80 species of magnolias are relatively maintenance and pest free once established. Some varieties of magnolia trees, like the Southern magnolia, can reach heights of up to 80 feet. More compact magnolia trees suitable for lining a fence and provide privacy, such as Little Gem or Sweet Bay, average a maximum height of 20 feet. The wide branch spread, foliage and spring blossoms provide ample privacy as well as significant colour and fragrance to your outdoor landscape. Choose a magnolia tree suitable for your hardiness zone. Species of magnolia trees cover U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 10.

Leyland Cypress

Donna C. Fare and Wayne K. Clatterbuck, professors at the University of Tennessee, suggest the Leyland Cypress tree as one of the most popular and versatile privacy trees. Leyland Cypress trees are hardy and fast-growing evergreens. Fare and Clatterbuck note that the dark, dense foliage of the Leyland Cypress contributes to its, "excellent screening potential." Leyland Cypress trees grow as tall as 40 feet and include a spread as wide as 20 feet. For the most privacy, line several Leyland Cypress along the boundaries of your yard for shade and privacy.

Trident Maple

C.J. and D.M. van Gelderen, horticulture experts and authors of "Maples for Gardens: A Color Encyclopedia," recommend the trident Maple as the best large maple tree for privacy and shade. Trident maples make excellent privacy trees because they are as wide as they are tall. It's not uncommon for a 25 foot trident maple to feature a branch display as wide as 20 to 30 feet. Trident maples are tolerant to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8 but are highly tolerant to a range of dry or infertile soils. Trident maples are ideal for lining the front or edges of a lawn, but because limbs are susceptible to breakage, avoid planting trident maples too near to your house. In the autumn, trident maples display a range of vibrant leaf colours that vary from golden-yellow to maroon.

Japanese Maple

C.J. and D.M. van Gelderen, horticulture experts and authors of "Maples for Gardens: A Color Encyclopedia," recommend the trident Maple as the best large maple tree for privacy and shade. Trident maples make excellent privacy trees because they are as wide as they are tall. It's not uncommon for a 25 foot trident maple to feature a branch display as wide as 20 to 30 feet. Trident maples are tolerant to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8 but are highly tolerant to a range of dry or infertile soils. Trident maples are ideal for lining the front or edges of a lawn, but because limbs are susceptible to breakage, avoid planting trident maples too near to your house. In the autumn, trident maples display a range of vibrant leaf colours that vary from golden-yellow to maroon.

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About the Author

Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.