Trees make an excellent privacy screen for blocking a busy street or even a neighbor’s yard, and when there is only a short or chain link fence. For year-round privacy, choose trees from the evergreen family. A row of thick trees can also block heavy winds, if this is a problem in your location. Of course, consider the benefits of each type of tree, but ultimately you must choose the type that is most appealing to you.
Eastern Red Cedar
This variety of evergreen will generally grow to a height of 40 feet at maturity, but can be found in some areas to grow to 60 feet. The red cedar is not particular about the soil makeup and will grow in shade or a partial shaded location. The needles are soft and have a pleasant scent. The females produce tiny, spiked blooms and blue berries. If you choose this tree, be prepared for birds to enjoy the berries. The males carry small pine cones. The tree has a pyramid shape. Blue to blue-green colored leaves overlap, making a dense cover when used for a privacy screen. The eastern red cedar grows best in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 2 through 9. Space your trees considering a 10 to 20 foot spread, when your create your privacy screen.
The oriental spruce, sometimes called skylands oriental spruce, can grow to a height of 50 to 100 feet with a spread of 20 to 30 feet. This evergreen’s foliage can vary in color from a yellow-green to gold. It will grow equally well in full sun or partial shade. It will grow well in a neutral soil or soil that has a bit more sand or clay. This evergreen is deer-, rabbit- and slope-tolerant. It grows best in zones 4 through 9. If you live in the country, this is your privacy screen tree. If you plant your oriental spruce trees too closely together, less than 20 feet, they will begin to compete for nutrients and water. This is fine, but you will have to be diligent in your feeding and watering schedule. If you have the room, plant two rows of oriental spruce, with the second row trees planted so they appear to be in between the front row trees. It will give you the complete screening you are looking for, but the trees will have plenty of room.
Sometimes referred to as the northern white cedar, this tree grows to 25 to 40 feet in height, with a 10 to 12 foot spread. Its tall, narrow span makes it an ideal tree for privacy-screen planting. It prefers moist to wet soil in planting zones 2 through 7. Its otherwise green foliage can turn brown during the winter months. The white cedar grows well in a full sun or partial shade location. If you like the look of the white cedar, yet you still prefer a shorter version, there are many cultivars of this tree in bush form. Consider pyramidalis, booth globe or douglasi pyramidalis.