Trees For Screening – at some point, every Weekend Arborist has thought about putting up a screen. Between their property and something, they don’t want to see.
It might be a road, a neighbor’s messy yard, an industrial building. Or simply a sightline that compromises your privacy.
Screening with trees can be an excellent option, but you need to do it right. Not every tree is right for a screen. Some trees don’t like to grow in crowds, something that is essential if you want a dense, solid screen.
Other trees might eventually work well but will take painfully long to get to a mature height. Below are a few tree types to consider when planting a screen (subject to your site and geography, of course):
Trees for privacy.
Arborvitae: Perhaps the most versatile screen tree, the Arborvitae is an evergreen that grows dense and can grow into a uniform hedge or screen. Several types of arborvitaes such as the Brandon or the Techny have proven to be hardy in many climates.
The Arborvitae can grow quickly, and heights vary from 12-30 feet based upon the variety. The Green Giant is a popular new ultra-fast growing Arborvitae that is probably best planted in zones 5 and south.
White Pine: The White Pine is another fast grower that can provide good screens and will grow well in close proximity to other like trees.
The look will be less of a hedge and more of a natural stand of trees. For tighter screens, consider the columnar version of the White Pine, although it can be harder to find.
Amur or Red Maple: Two Maple varieties do well as screens, the smaller Amur and larger Red. The Amur maple is a beautiful tree all around but can be a slow grower.
The Red is a very nice large tree that made our list of Top 10 Deciduous trees overall. These obviously lose their leaves in the fall, so leave the screen exposed during winter. Also, you can’t pack them as closely together as you would an Arborvitae or Lilac.
Quaking Aspen: The Aspen is a tree that grows quickly, but can have weaker branches and a short lifespan (20-30 years).
However, for screening purposes away from buildings, it can be an option. With Aspen bark can provide a beautiful contrast to evergreen trees for a multilayered screen.
Trees make great shade.
Tree Lilac: A large Lilac, one that will grow to a 10+ foot height, can make an excellent screen.
While they lose leaves, they can be grown so densely together that they still provide some visual barrier during the winter months.
As with any Lilac, the added bonus of fragrant spring or summer flowers is noteworthy.
Eastern Red Cedar: Our favorite conifer overall, Red Cedars can grow into great screens. They reach heights of 20+ feet, taller than many Arborvitaes. In addition to great screen qualities, the Cedars live forever and produce gorgeous bark.
Pines – Austrian or Scotch: For a rugged, wild screen look, consider an Austrian or Scotch pine. With long needles and an open form, they can create a nice screen while not appearing as manicured as an Arborvitae.
Unlike many other Conifers, these two pines have a tendency to not grow in a perfect pyramid, leaving a more open and bushy top — something many desire when growing a screen.
A Mix: An underrated way of doing a screen is by doing a mix of trees for a very natural, woody look. Mixing Norway or White Spruce with Aspens, for example, could resemble something you would find in the wild.
A stand of Pines with the occasional Maple can also create a natural look. Keep in mind, however, that some of these trees won’t do as well when crowding separate species, so it is best attempted where you have plenty of space and don’t need that tight, hedge look.