Many different trees are either fast-growing or tolerant of wind or good privacy screens but few trees are all three. The best privacy and windbreak trees are often evergreens, which don't lose their leaves and provide protection year-round. Select the right fast-growing windbreak and privacy trees for your landscape based on the tree's specific soil, sunlight and climate requirements. If you choose a tree type that's best suited for your specific landscape, you'll spend far less time caring for the tree and troubleshooting problems.
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The Austrian pine tree, or Pinus nigra, is well-suited for growing in landscapes in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 7, enjoying colder winters and tolerating temperatures down to -25F. Austrian pines have a high tolerance for droughts, alkaline soils and salt. Growing 40 to 60 feet tall with an open, spreading crown and flat top, this pine tree forms a solid screen, blocking wind and creating privacy. You can plant Austrian pines in a spot with full sunlight and dry to moist but well-draining soil.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or the dawn redwood, is a large, pyramidal-shaped tree that grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8. Dawn redwoods are among the fastest-growing evergreen trees, reaching 75 to 100 feet in height. The bark is also attractive, with a reddish-brown colour and fissured, shredded texture.
You can plant dawn redwoods as a screen in a spot with full sunlight and moist to wet but well-draining soil. Dawn redwoods enjoy soil that's slightly acidic. The biggest drawback to planting dawn redwood trees is their huge mature size, which often makes them unsuitable for smaller yards and urban landscapes.
Also called the American arbor vitae, northern white cedar or Thuja occidentalis, the eastern arbor vitae is a popular landscape tree used for privacy screens. These trees are hardy in zones 3 through 7, enjoying cooler climates and tolerating winter temperatures as cold as -35F. Growing 20 to 40 feet tall with evergreen needles, eastern arborvitaes come in many different cultivated varieties, most of which have broadly pyramidal to slightly columnar shapes.
Eastern arborvitaes are tough trees that can tolerate compacted soils, wet sites, alkaline soils and droughts. The ideal planting site for eastern arborvitaes is a location with full sunlight and moist to wet but well-draining soil.
Eastern Red Cedar
The eastern red cedar, or Juniperus virginiana, is a medium-sized tree with a narrow to pyramidal shape that grows 40 to 50 feet in height. Eastern red cedars can grow in a wide range of climatic regions, growing in zones 4 through 9. These conifers are beloved for their evergreen needles that turn purplish during winter and their bluish-grey ornamental fruits.
Eastern red cedars can tolerate very high winds, dry and alkaline soils, and salt. Although the eastern red cedar is actually a species of juniper, it can still be a host for cedar-apple rust disease.
The Norway spruce, or Picea abies, is an attractive, popular landscape tree that grows 40 to 60 feet tall with a pyramidal shape and pendulous branches. Suitable for landscapes in zones 3 through 7, Norway spruce trees make excellent privacy screens and wind barriers. Plant your Norway spruce trees in a site with full sunlight and moist but well-draining soil that's slightly acidic. You can purchase some dwarf types that grow in a shrublike form and are better suited for smaller yards.
The red pine of the species Pinus resinosa grows 50 to 80 feet tall and is best for landscapes in colder regions in zones 3 through 6. If you have a dry site, the red pine tree is one of the best choices for forming a wind or privacy screen. Red pines like dry soils -- but not compacted clay soils -- and full sunlight. Because this is a larger tree, the red pine is not a good choice for smaller yards.
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