How Do I Choose the Best Fast-Growing Privacy Trees?

Renee Booker

Land owners often want to block noise, light, and eye sores from affecting their property, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is with fast-growing privacy trees. There are many species of trees that both grow rapidly and develop a thick foliage capable of blocking out unwanted characteristics of a neighboring property. The most important thing to remember when choosing a fast-growing privacy trees is their cold and warm weather hardiness.

Pine trees are sturdy and can provide ample shade.
Pine trees are sturdy and can provide ample shade.

The hardiness of a specific species of fast-growing privacy trees is determined by the hottest and coldest environments in which it can survive. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a detailed map of hardiness zones. These zones range from one to ten for cold weather hardiness, and from one to 12 for hot weather hardiness, with one being the least warm on both scales. A homeowner should always determine which zone he or she lives in prior to planning any yard improvements.

Privacy trees help block out noise and light.
Privacy trees help block out noise and light.

The best fast-growing privacy trees for zones one through four are generally hybrid willows. These trees grow an average of 6 feet (1.8 meters) per year, meaning you won't have to wait long for the “fence” to develop. The hybrid willow is able to thrive in all weather conditions, from zone one to 12 on both hardiness scales, although they are ideal for zones one through four.

A great choice for zones five through seven is the hybrid poplar. This fast-growing privacy tree grows up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) per year and will reach a mature height of 40 to 50 feet (12.2 to 15.24 meters), making it ideal for shading large areas. The hybrid poplar is a more traditional-looking tree with the majority of its foliage developing in the upper half.

For zones eight through 12, the leyland cypress is an exceptional choice due to its hot weather and drought resistance. This tree species will grow an average of 4 feet (1.22 meters) per year, and keeps a lush green foliage year round. The leyland cypress can grow to a mature height of 50 feet (15.24 meters), and is the most widely used privacy tree in the United States.

Fast-growing privacy trees are an excellent choice for blocking out unattractive sights, sounds, and lights. Many privacy tree species are capable of thriving in any climate while providing a solid wall of foliage or shading large areas such as houses and yard spaces. The most important thing to consider when choosing a privacy tree, other than your desired shade characteristics, is the weather hardiness of species, as this will determine the trees' success.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Something else to consider is the cost of the project. To get a proper, thick line of privacy trees going is a fairly big investment, particularly if you are going to choose a hybrid which might cost more than the average tree.

I would definitely shop around, and, if possible, see if there were any suitable trees around that you can use for cuttings, if you have the time and patience to do that.


@pleonasm - This makes me think of a tree that they tried growing all over San Francisco, because it was a relatively fast growing shade tree and it had beautiful red flowers in the summer (it was known as "the New Zealand Christmas tree").

What they didn't realize before they planted them all was that it had very thick roots that grew close to the surface of the ground. So, when the trees got to a certain age, they basically started tearing up the concrete surrounding them, all over the city. Almost all of them were removed, which was expensive.

So, it's definitely worth doing a lot of research before you buy and plant some trees.


If you are a bit intimidated by all the information out there about zones and growing micro climates and so forth, you might want to just take a walk around your neighborhood and see what other trees are being used as privacy trees. If you are feeling friendly you might even knock on a few doors and ask the neighbors about how those trees have worked out for them.

I would also ask at the tree nursery and make sure you make a list of potential problems. Aside from the local weather conditions, you also need to make sure your trees aren't going to end up interfering with power lines or with pipes, or dump lots of leaves into waterways during the fall.

It takes a while to get trees established, even if they are fast growing. You don't want to get a few years into it and realize your trees aren't going to work out.

Post your comments
Forgot password?