Here's How to Create Privacy in Your Own Yard with Trees and Shrubs

best trees for privacy
These Are the Best Trees to Plant for PrivacyJohner Images - Getty Images

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Trees are a wonderful investment in the future. Not only do they provide beauty, color, and shade, they also help support wildlife including birds and pollinators. What's more? Trees can screen a view to make your garden feel more private. “Trees are a green fence,” says Suzanne Molnar, director of purchasing at Fast Growing Trees. “If you need privacy, sometimes a traditional fence isn’t an option because of space considerations, or maybe your a homeowner’s association does not permit fencing. Trees and shrubs can be problem solvers for you.”

When choosing the best trees for privacy, make sure you select a variety that that will survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here). Most importantly, you also need to pay attention to a tree or shrub’s mature size, says Molnar. Larger lawns might require different trees compared to small backyard gardens. And when it comes to creating your lush outdoor living space, remember that you don’t want to plant too close to your house, wires or roof overhangs.

Planting a line of trees provides almost instant privacy. But another effective design is to plant a “thicket” of trees and shrubs, with larger plants in the back and shorter ones up front. This also allows you to mix it up with a variety of plantings (which is helpful in case of disease or deer damage to one or two trees). Ahead, are our top picks for the best privacy trees for your yard.


This fast-growing evergreen comes in many different shapes and sizes—from round and squat to tall and angular. They’re as close to instant privacy as it comes, and you’ll find them in a range of heights. Look for ‘Baby Giant,’ which reaches about 15 feet tall, or ‘Berckman's Gold’ for gold-tinged foliage.

USDA Hardiness zones: 3 to 9

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best privacy shrubs arborvitae
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This diverse group of shrubs ranges from petite dwarf varieties to large shrubs that can reach 10 feet tall and wide. They have beautiful flowers that may be white or pale pink; some types develop berries. Viburnums can be pruned or left natural for more privacy coverage.

USDA Hardiness zones: 3 to 9

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best privacy shrubs viburnum
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Tricolor Willow

This super-fast-growing plant can be left in shrub form or trained into a tree shape. Tricolor willow has beautiful new growth that’s pink-tinged, with long, elegant arching branches. It quickly reaches 8 to 10 feet tall.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

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best privacy shrubs tricolor willow
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Skip Laurel

This handsome evergreen has glossy leaves and a dense form that can be left natural or trained into a hedge shape. Skip laurel is a favorite of landscape designers because it tolerates poor soil and is deer resistant.

USDA Hardiness zones: 5 to 10

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best privacy shrubs skip laurel
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Fragrant Tea Olive

This is a slow grower, but it forms a dense plant you can prune into hedge form, if you like. The glossy leaves are a beautiful backdrop to the white, yellow, or orange flowers, which have a scent similar to gardenias or jasmine.

USDA Hardiness zones: 8 to 11

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best privacy shrubs fragrant tea olive
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There’s a type of hydrangea that will grow almost anywhere in the U.S.! They’re absolutely beautiful shrubs that bloom from early to late summer, with flowers lasting until a freeze. In winter, the papery blooms remain intact, too, providing interest to the otherwise faded garden. ‘Vanilla Strawberry,’ ‘Fire Light’ and ‘Endless Summer’ are good varieties for privacy screening.

USDA Hardiness zones: 4 to 9

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best privacy shrubs hydrangea
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Junipers come in many different varieties from low creeping types to upright ones. Many have a blue-ish color with a fine texture and elegant form. Look for the variety ‘Taylor,’ which is nicknamed the “Italian cypress of the North,” because it looks similar to but is much more cold-hardy than a classic Italian cypress.

USDA Hardiness zones: 3 to 9

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best privacy trees juniper
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Camellias have old-fashioned charm with glossy green foliage and flowers so large and elegant that they don’t even look real! There are many different varieties with bloom times varying from fall to early spring.

USDA Hardiness zones: 6 to 9

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best privacy trees camellia
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Rose of Sharon

This shrub is one of the last to bloom in the garden in late summer. Rose of Sharon has large, striking flowers in shades ranging from pale pink to blue to purple. Look for columnar varieties such as ‘Purple Pillar’ that keep a more upright form if you're tight on space.

USDA Hardiness zones: 5 to 9

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best privacy trees rose of sharon hibiscus syriacus
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This evergreen shrub has the most charming fringe-y flowers! The foliage of lorapetalum may be green or burgundy for year-round color, and it’s deer resistant, too.

USDA Hardiness zones: 7 to 10

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best privacy trees lorapetalum
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English Laurel

The glossy green foliage and fragrant white flowers make this an outstanding specimen for hedges. English laurel, also called cherry laurel, can be pruned to shape or left natural.

USDA Hardiness zones: 7 to 10

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best privacy trees english laurel
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This old favorite has sweetly-scented flowers in late spring. The heart-shaped leaves add another level of interest all season long. Some new types of lilacs, such as ‘Bloomerang Purple’ rebloom lightly later in the season.

USDA Hardiness zones: 3 to 7

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best privacy trees lilac
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This shrub has fine foliage that changes colors with the seasons. Nandina has white flowers in summer, followed by pretty red berries in fall. This plant is ideal for a shorter privacy hedge, with most varieties reaching three to four feet tall.

USDA Hardiness zones: 6 to 10

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best privacy trees nandina
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This broadleaf evergreen has beautiful flowers in spring. It’s an un-fussy shrub that can adapt to many soil conditions. Many varieties reach 10 feet tall, so planting a few clustered together will create a dense screen in time.

USDA Hardiness zones: 4 to 8

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best privacy trees rhododendron
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New types of forsythia are more compact, so they’re ideal for smaller garden spaces. But older varieties make an excellent hedge. Plus, their sunny-yellow flowers emerge in early spring before the plants leaf out for early-season color just when you crave it most!

USDA Hardiness zones: 4 to 8

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best privacy trees forsythia
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