10 Outstanding Evergreen Trees for Privacy
Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii has the noble, spirelike shape that evergreen lovers admire so much. While often used as a featured specimen, it also looks great massed as a screen in evergreen landscaping. Douglas-fir does not like hot, dry winds but will do excellent where there is moisture—in the soil and in the atmosphere. The soft-textured tree has variable color, depending on seed source, with the blue-green types being the most attractive and hardy. It grows 40 to 80 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 4 to 6.
Eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana is so adaptable you'll find it growing on dry, rocky slopes and at the edges of swamps. This densely branched juniper is great for urban screens and rural windbreaks, with rich green summer foliage turning ruddy brown-green in winter. It grows 40 to 50 feet tall, although many commercially available cultivars mature at half that height. Eastern red cedar is hardy in Zones 2-9.
White pine Pinus strobus can grow 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide, so it needs plenty of room. Or does it? There are columnar varieties that max out at 20 feet in height and 14 feet in width, making them suitable as screens. White pine is a forest tree, so it grows fast. The soft, billowy texture is a welcome departure from the rigid look of many other evergreens. And the blue-green needles are attractive year-round. A portion of them drop to the ground periodically, so the trees are self-mulching. White pine is hardy in Zones 3-8.
Like white pine, concolor fir Abies concolor is quite adaptable. Also known as white fir, it's a great choice for hot, dry conditions and winter cold. However, it grows best with an evenly moist soil that has good drainage. The blue-gray needles have a white luster, which explains the common name. In addition to its unique needles, concolor fir has an attractive conical shape with tiered branches, so it works as a specimen to block a view or partnered with other trees in evergreen landscaping. Concolor fir grows 60 to 80 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 3-7.
Norway spruce Picea abies is easy to spot among other evergreens. While it has the pyramidal shape typical of many conifers, the horizontal branches reach upward, allowing the pendulous growth to hang down gracefully. The effect is lovely—and quite distinctive. Norway spruce grows 50 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide, but popular cultivars have more modest dimensions. Norway spruce is hardy in Zones 2-7.
Deodar cedar Cedrus deodara is a warm-climate tree for Zones 6-8, sometimes 9. It's very adaptable, grows fast, and has dense branching in youth. In short, it's perfect for a screen or as part of evergreen landscaping. But deodar cedar isn't a one-trick pony. It makes a great specimen, too, with blue-green needles and graceful, gently weeping branches that become more artistic with age.
False cypress Chamaecyparis makes a valuable addition to the winter garden, thanks to a large number of cultivars with different shapes and colors. Not surprisingly, it's also wonderful for adding privacy. Some false cypress cultivars can be trimmed like a hedge; others can be allowed to reach their fluffy, twisted, or contorted potential. Colors range from blue-gray to golden-green. They're easy-care plants, requiring just sun, moisture, and good drainage. False cypress is hardy in Zones 4-8, depending on species and cultivar.
Leyland cypress Cupressocyparis leylandii is another warm-climate evergreen tree for privacy. Best suited to Zones 6-9, it's a natural for privacy screens with its columnar shape and year-round color. If the feathery, blue-green foliage doesn't grab you, there are cultivars with yellow, gray, or bright green foliage. Leyland cypress grows very fast and matures at 60 to 70 feet if not topped at an early age. It likes moist, well-drained soil but takes full sun or part shade.
When you think of an evergreen hedge or privacy screen, you probably think of arborvitae. It's the go-to evergreen for lining a fence. American arborvitae Thuja occidentalis, also known as eastern arborvitae, can reach heights of 70 feet in the wild and live several hundred years. Popular cultivars, on the other hand, mature at 10 to 15 feet, making them perfect for year-round privacy in evergreen landscaping. American arvorvitae is durable and adaptable, its biggest problem being deer browsing (wrap in burlap in the winter or spray with a deer repellent). It is hardy in Zones 2-8
Top Evergreens for Your Landscape
Add interest and privacy to your landscape with a few of our favorite evergreens. These varieties can grow up to 50 feet and more!
Yew Taxus is the tree of immortality, with ancient specimens living thousands of years. In evergreen landscaping, yews are often used as hedges and foundation plantings. The dark green foliage and colorful red berries are a welcome sight in winter, and birds love the shelter of yews, too. Yews are tolerant of sun or shade as well as poor, dry soils, but they won't take soggy soil. Heights vary according to species and cultivar, with yews growing anywhere from 2 to 60 feet tall. The most common species are hardy in Zones 4-7, with English yew Taxus baccata better suited to Zones 6-7.