How to Grow Privacy Trees


If you live in a suburb or a newer housing development, privacy can be an issue. One solution is to put up a privacy fence. Another solution is to plant tall, narrow trees with dense foliage habits. Privacy trees can block your neighbor's view of your yard, and they also can also hide an undesirable view from your home. Privacy trees can also block sound and reduce the noise of nearby traffic.

Step 1

Plant privacy trees in spring. During this time, your local landscape centers and nurseries have a wider selection of trees to plant.

Step 2

Determine your USDA hardiness zone and the amount of care that you want to put into maintaining your trees. These two factors will determine which varieties of tree you should choose for your privacy screen. For example, formal-looking plants such as English hawthorn require clipping every three months to maintain a proper pyramid shape, while Italian cypress trees naturally take on a column shape that needs very little pruning. But Cypress trees will not grow north of zone 7b, which makes it a poor tree choice for the Midwest. Evergreens are the best choice for year-round privacy due to the fact that the plants do not lose their leaves.

Step 3

Collect a soil sample by digging one quart of soil from up to 10 locations across the site of your privacy row. Mix these samples in a bucket and allow them to dry. Then pick out any debris and place a cup of soil in a bag. Take the bag to your county extension service for testing. The testing laboratory will determine the soil structure and pH as well as make recommendations for soil amendments that will improve the soil.

Step 4

Break up the soil around your privacy screen location with a rototiller to a depth of 12 inches. Spread 4 inches of soil amendments over the soil based on the results of the soil test. Mix the amendments with the soil. Amend a wide area of soil so that the trees develop an extensive root system. Good soil amendments include organic material such as peat moss, compost and composted manure. Add a balanced fertilizer to promote root and foliage development, and sulfur to lower the pH or lime to raise the pH of the soil.

Step 5

Dig planting holes for each tree that are twice as wide as the root ball of the tree. Space each tree far enough apart that the tree can spread as it grows. Plant trees in staggered rows to give them more room while increasing the depth and visual interest of your screen. For example, plants such as eastern red cedar should be spaced 5 to 7 feet apart.

Step 6

Place the roots of the trees in the holes and fill in around the sides with soil. Tap the root ball with the heel of your shoe to remove air pockets and water the line of trees until the soil is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Continue to water until the roots of the tree have become established. Gradually taper off until you only water the tree during drought conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Privacy Trees
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Plastic bag
  • Rototiller
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Composted manure
  • Balanced, granular fertilizer (10-10-10)
  • Sulfur
  • Lime
  • Garden hose


  • University of Tennessee Extenson: Evergreen Trees for Screens and Hedges in the Landscape
  • Clemson University: South Carolina Urban Tree Care
  • Colorado State University Extension: Small Deciduous Trees

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University Extension: Want back yard privacy? Plant columnar trees, shrubs
Keywords: screening hedges, evergreen trees, natural privacy tree

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."