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Deciduous Trees for Privacy Plantings

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Deciduous trees can be used to create privacy. They can be used along a boundary to protect and enclose a garden or property.

Deciduous trees can be used as a wall of green through the warm months of the year; they can still serve as a boundary in the cold time of the year even while the dropped leaves allow more light into a property or garden during the shorter days of the year.

Trees may be divided into two broad main classes: evergreen and deciduous. Evergreen trees hold their foliage throughout the year. Deciduous trees shed their foliage in the fall.

Broadly speaking, both evergreen and deciduous trees fall into two divisions: the columnar and the spreading types. Columnar trees are often used for framing vistas and outlining paths or driveway, but they can also be closely spaced to offer privacy–to create a living wall. Columnar trees are commonly nearly as wide at the top as they are near the ground.

Spreading trees are often rounded by nature; usually rounded at the top, but sometimes nearly round from close to the ground to the top of the plant. The wide nature of spreading trees means they are planted further apart than columnar trees when used to create privacy.

How to choose a deciduous tree for privacy

When choosing a deciduous tree for privacy consider the following: (1) will it grow and thrive in your regions or growing zone; (2) how tall and wide does it grow; (3) when does it shed its leaves and when does it re-leaf in spring; (4) is it a fast, moderate, or slow grower; (5) what color are the leaves during summer and in autumn; (6) does it flower.

Red maples, Acer rubrum
Red maples, Acer rubrum

Deciduous trees for privacy planting

Common NameBotanical NameZonesGrowth Rate
Ash, greenFraxinus pennsylvanica3-9Rapid
Bald, cypressToxodium distichum4-10Moderate
Birch, riverBetula nigra4-9Rapid
Chase treeVitex agnus-castus6-10Moderate
CrabappleMalus spp.4-8Moderate
Crape myrtleLagerstroemia indica7-9Rapid
Elm, ChineseUlmus parvifolia5-9Rapid
Magnolia, saucerMagnolia x soulangiana5-9Moderate
Maple, redAcer rubrum3-9Moderate
Japanese Pagoda tree, Sophora japonica
Japanese Pagoda tree, Sophora japonica
Common NameBotanical NameZonesGrowth Rate
Oak, willowQuercus phellos4-8Moderate
Pagoda tree, JapaneseSophora japonica6-8Rapid
Pear, CalleryPyrus calleryana4-8Rapid
Plum, purple leafPrunus cerasifera ‘Atropurpurea’4-8Rapid
PrivetLigustrum spp.3-9Rapid
RedbudCercis canadensis3-9Moderate
Zelkova, JapaneseZelkova serrata5-9Moderate

Also of interest:

Evergreen Trees for Privacy Planting

Trees in Garden Design

How to Plant a Tree

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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Evergreen Trees for Privacy Planting