Planting trees is an effective way to increase your privacy by reducing the number of people who are able to see onto your property. Trees should be placed strategically to block intrusions that are specific to your circumstances. Before digging the first hole, create a complete plan that takes into account how the trees will grow and how they will interact with natural or man-made features.
Privacy is not only a matter of personal comfort, but also of safety as well. Parents might not want others to watch their children at play, sunbathers might want to wear little clothing, and someone sitting and reading might prefer not to be disturbed by a passerby. Whether neighbors are on good terms with one another, there might be times when each will appreciate not being seen by the other, and trees can be a preferable alternative to a fence.
Choose the type of tree that matches the type of privacy you will need. If you need year-round coverage, choose an evergreen, such as a Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) . For immediate privacy, plant mature trees. Reduce some of the expense of landscaping with mature trees by incorporating younger trees into the mix. Choose fast-growing trees, such as hybrid poplars (Populus hybrd) to create a barrier within a few years instead of waiting decades for coverage. Choose trees, such as Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca), that are dense near their tops to increase privacy on raised areas, such as decks or terraces.
Homeowners must water, fertilize and prune trees as needed. Trees are particularly needy in the first weeks and months after you plant them. Their roots need water and nutrients to get established. After the trees are established, homeowners only need to perform routine maintenance particular to each species. Fast-growing trees, such as the Leyland cypress, will provide good coverage relatively soon; however, they tend to have generally weak trunks and are more likely to create a hazard during major storms. No tree should be placed where it will interfere with power lines or sewer pipes.
Trees improve air quality, provide habitat for wildlife and create wind breaks. Trees help prevent soil erosion, and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, reduce the amount of sediment and chemicals that run into streams and rivers. Forest Services researchers found that "[t]rees and other urban vegetation ... decrease runoff and increase groundwater flows by increasing infiltration and below-ground storage, reduce sediment loads from landscape and channel erosion, reduce thermal shocks to streams through their cooling effects on surfaces and air, and provide organic matter (food) resources to stream ecosystem food webs."
Blocking every passerby from being able to see or hear what is happening on your property in some instances raises safety issues. Passersby can help deter crime, provide emergency assistance and identify hazards on your property. Law enforcement officers will not be able to see easily if a prowler or vandal is on your property.