Using trees for a privacy fence instead of a structural fence is more desirable for many landscapes because of the trees' many other benefits. A wall of trees can provide privacy from very tall structures when constructing a structural fence is impractical due to height requirements or prohibitive because of expense or local ordinances. Most homeowners can plant trees to form a fence without the need of hired help, providing privacy from prying eyes while cost effectively adding a living wall of color.
When it's necessary to create a living privacy fence quickly, a fast-growing tree is an effective solution. A popular option for many landscapes is the Leyland cypress, which grows 3 to 4 feet per year and produces a hedge-like screen when planted in a row. With an average mature height of 60 to 70 feet and a spread of 15 to 20 feet, this dense evergreen works well to block the views from large structures. Many fast-growing trees have weak wood with short lifespans, so inter-planting slower-growth but longer-lived trees is a suitable option to fill the eventual void when these fast-growers are removed.
To continually block the view from a structure such as a neighboring house or business, an evergreen is an effective option. The white fir tree is evergreen and grows 30 to feet 50 tall with a spread of up to 30 feet, making it important to plant these trees in areas with sufficient space to accommodate their mature width. With its size and year-around foliage, this tree provides privacy where building a large structural fence is not possible.
For instances when screening is only necessary temporarily, such as for blocking your pool, deck or patio during the warmer months, deciduous trees work well as suitable options. Crape myrtle trees provide seasonal screening while allowing homeowners to bring color to their landscape through spring blooms and fall leaves. Reaching an average height of 20 feet with a raised canopy, the crape myrtle successfully blocks the view from upper-level floors or structures on higher elevations above your property and allows the welcome sun to shine through once the leaves fall.
For maximum privacy, trees that have shrub-like characteristics provide good service. Arborvitae trees fit the bill, growing tightly compacted and forming a solid, living fence when planted closely together in a row. This hardy, conical-shaped tree has dense foliage that, along with heights up to 65 feet, makes it very useful for completely blocking the view from tall structures. These evergreens grow well in many climates and provide the added benefit of noise reduction.
- University of Tennessee, Agricultural Extension Service; Evergreen Trees for Screens and Hedges in the Landscape; Donna C. Fare and Wayne K. Clatterbuck
- "Lowe's Complete Landscaping"; Michael MacCaskey; 2002
- PlantGuide.org: Arbor Vitae Tree
- Photo Credit avenue of poplar trees image by david hughes from Fotolia.com
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