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The Best Evergreen Trees for Privacy

Updated on August 27, 2012

Why Evergreens?

If you are looking for the best evergreen trees for privacy, here is the short list that you need to study. Looking for pine or spruce trees suitable for a privacy screen can be a daunting task with the many choices out there, but each of these will do the trick. The best tree for you will depend on your landscape, the amount of space that you have, and how tall you really want this privacy screen to be.

The benefits of using evergreens to offer some privacy is that they will work all year long, even in winter where deciduous trees lose their appeal. Like other trees, it is easy to find varieties that will do well in various soils and conditions, from clay to sand to wet areas.

Great Evergreen Trees for Privacy

Here is the short list for consideration. All varieties here so well in a variety of soils and are easy to care for, and all are beautiful in their own way. If you have the space, a natural full-sized tree looks great and creates a significant screen. If you don't have the real estate, go with a smaller or narrower option, but consider staggering plants in groups so that a single line is not created. That will create a more natural looking screen. Either way, get that natural screen going this year so you can enjoy it for years to come whether you are relaxing on the deck, playing games in your yard, or just in the house at night with the lights on.


Holly is a great choice for a very narrow area that will be close to the border since it can be found in very narrow forms and pruned as you like to maintain the shape. Japanese holly like Sky Pencil is a minimalist version for zones 5-9, growing only 2-3 feet wide but offering 10 feet of height. It is a moderate grower that really requires no pruning unless you wish to. If you want to go big with holly, American holly is the way to go. Also a moderate grower, this variety will get very big over time, reaching 50 feet in height and 30 feet wide. A bonus of holly is that you can enjoy the red berries in winter, especially cool if you have some white snow to set them off. Wildlife appreciates the food source as well.


To add some brilliant color to your privacy screen, juniper is a fantastic option. These are easy to care for trees with icy blue color and an upright form. Skyrocket grows in zones 4-9 and grows very tall and narrow, at 20 feet high by 3 feet wide. When creating a screen you can really pack these in by plating them close together. If you have room, Wichita Blue is awesome and stays reasonable at 15 feet high and only 5 feet wide. It has more of a spruce tree shape which looks natural in the landscape.


Arborvitae has been a long-time favorite for creating some privacy in the garden and for good reason. These trees are dense and impossible to see through when planted in mass. Be cautious about planting them where heavy wet snow is likely, however, since they may be taxed by the weight of the snow. Green Giant will stay green in winter and is one of the big boys at 60 feet tall and 15-20 feet wide. It grows quickly in zones 5-7 and will fill in fast. If you want a smaller footprint, go for Emerald Green. It stays much more compact at around 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide and grows in zones 3-7. It will grow slower, so plant these trees just a few feet apart for a nice screen.

Black Hills Spruce

Spruce trees make excellent cover for wildlife and also make for very nice screens, since they grow densely and don't drop needles and branches in the way that many pine trees do. One of the best for privacy is the Black Hills Spruce. At 30-50 feet by 15-20 feet wide, it won't overtake the landscape, and these trees look absolutely beautiful planted in a group or mixed with other trees. They grow slow to moderately so be patient, but it will be worth the wait. Black Hills Spruce do well in a large range from zones 2-6. Once established they do tend to speed up, so they go from small to medium-sized quickly once established.

Austrian Pine

When it comes to pine trees, a really neat choice is the Austrian Pine. This stately tree is tall and wide and is very attractive while young, followed by a more open habit when old. Suitable for zones 4-7, it will grow to 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide over the years. The best part is that this tree grows rather quickly, so it will be one of the fastest growing pine trees around your landscape. With the Austrian Pine, you can look forward to the long attractive "candles" each summer as the new growth takes off. Once established, branches will add 2-3 feet or more per year, so it will fill the space quickly.

Austrian pine makes a fine choice for privacy
Austrian pine makes a fine choice for privacy

Planting Techniques

There are many ways to plant trees when attempting to screen an area. We have all seen a line of evergreen trees before, but consider something a bit different. To create a really natural looking setting, mix it up a bit. That means both in design and variety.

When it comes to form, consider avoiding the row, instead favoring the cluster. You may not really need a long line of trees to offer the privacy you are looking for. Consider where you really want the blockage and plant a cluster of trees there. For example, a spot between your patio and your neighbors patio may be perfect, leaving grass to reach the border elsewhere. This approach looks more natural and is less obvious if a single tree dies over the years since there won't be a hole in a single row, but rather a spot in the cluster than be be planted with another tree.

As for variety, do think about mixing it up. A mix of pine, spruce, and arborvitae will look very nice and offer some protection from disease that may inflict a certain variety. What's more, adding some deciduous trees, like a fast growing oak tree to the mix can really be striking. Consider birch or red twig dogwood near the evergreens. These white and red colors will really pop out with the green background provided by the screen.

If you have the space, finishing the planting area with suitable perennials is a great way to add color. Next to evergreens, consider native plantings that require little work, like black-eyed susan, daisies, or coneflower. All will spread slowly over time and look awesome in the front of the garden.

Now get that planting done. Consider your options and finish the job this year. These choices are among the best evergreen trees for privacy that you will find.


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      Alexa 8 weeks ago

      Bonnie, you're so right. I went to a nursery with my husband looking for sky pencils then my husband saw holly trees so healthy and shiny leaves that he together w/the salesman persuaded me to buy not one but 3 of them. So, we bought and planted them in front of the house. Days after, I was mulching around one of them suddenly, I got a deep pain in my left hand and a leaf was hanging on my left hand. Now, I am waiting the fall season to return all of 3. They are beautiful but " NASTY LEAVES."

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      Bonnie 7 months ago

      I HIGHLY recommend NOT planting holly trees in your yard or in any parks. The leaves of these trees are VERY NASTY. In fall when leaves are on the ground and need to be cleaned up if you grab a bunch of leaves that includes a holly leaf you will be very sorry. It's spines will get you! The leaves do not degrade easily and you can get stuck by leaves that have been around for over a year. I recently discussed this with our new neighbors who had a tall holly tree on the property line between our yards. He most happily cut it down as he has young children.

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      Talat 2 years ago

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