While some homeowners may install privacy fences to shield their home and yard from neighbours and passersby, others do not like the look of heavy fencing surrounding their property. Trees are an attractive and effective alternative to fencing and may be planted around a home to block the property from view. Several trees stand out as the best options for a privacy border because of their height and width, but you may also want to consider their appearance when selecting trees for your home.
The columnar hornbeam is an ideal deciduous tree for using as in a privacy border because it grows upright but broadens as it matures, typically reaching heights of 40 to 50 feet and widths of 30 feet. It requires little maintenance and is able to withstand poor soil, drought conditions and air pollution. The columnar hornbeam also appeals to many homeowners as a privacy border tree because it is an attractive tree with serrated leaves that are a bright green during the summer months and a gold colour in the fall. For use as a privacy border, columnar hornbeams are usually planted 5 to 10 feet apart so there is room for them to reach full maturity.
The European beech tree is another effective privacy border tree because of its upright growth and massive size. If they are not pruned, these trees can reach heights of 70 to 80 feet. The crown may also reach a width of approximately 30 feet. European beech trees grow slowly, but they can be transplanted easily. They grow best in areas that receive regular sun and prefer a light soil that receives adequate moisture. A deciduous tree, European beech features leaves that are green during summer and copper during the fall. Common culitvars of the European beech that may be used as privacy border trees include the Pendula and Dawyck.
The white fir is an ideal privacy border tree for homeowners who prefer the look of evergreen trees. These trees typically reach heights of 30 to 50 feet and a spread of 15 to 30 feet, so they can form an effective privacy shield. White firs are also extremely adaptable trees that are able to withstand drought conditions and heat. They grow best in well-drained soils composed of sandy-loam, and prefer full sunlight.
Sweet Bay Magnolia
The sweet bay magnolia is another evergreen option for a privacy border tree. Reaching heights of 10 to 20 feet, their crowns can spread to widths of 10 to 20 feet as well. They grow as both single and multi-trunk trees and are often appreciated by homeowners for their decorative white summer flowers that give off a pleasant lemon fragrance. The foliage on a sweet bay magnolia is typically shiny and green, though it may have a silver tint. These trees tolerate drought conditions and heat relatively well and usually grow best in full sun.
- Oregon State University: Want Back Yard Privacy? Plant Columnar Trees, Shrubs
- Great Plant Picks: Carpinus Betulus "Fastigiata"
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Fagus Sylvatica "Dawyck": "Dawyck" European Beech
- University of Tennessee Extension: Evergreen Trees for Screens and Hedges in the Landscape