How to Block Your Neighbor's View
Our homes are our safe haven, our small stake in the world where we can relax and unwind after the stresses of a long day. So, while we are all for neighborly love, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to block the view from the outside into your home.
If your living room is your inside space to relax and be with your family, then your yard can equally serve an an outdoor living space, deserving of walls to keep strangers' eyes out and your family comfortable and safe. You have a right to your privacy inside and out.
However, building a fortress around your yard can be expensive, time consuming, and might not be approved by your local HOA. Hardscape fences are difficult to make tall enough to block second-story views.
A natural fence of evergreen trees and shrubs is a great solution to block a neighbor's line of sight. They can grow as tall and as thick as you want them to be, depending on which plants you choose and how you arrange them. Privacy trees are handsome, low maintenance, and eco-friendly choices for perfect privacy away from your neighbors. Let's explore what you need to consider before planting your living fence around your outdoor space.
Consider Your Needs
- What grow zone do you live in? Different evergreen privacy trees will thrive in different grow zones. There are choices for every climate, you just want to choose trees that thrive in your area.
- How big is your yard? If you have a very big yard and need to block a very large area from view, you will want to choose fast growing trees that grow tall quickly. If you have the space, you can create a privacy wall that will block prying eyes from looking into your second or even third story windows!
- If you have a very small yard, you still have plenty of options. There are new varieties of evergreen trees being cultivated for exactly the size yard you have, even if it's just a balcony you're protecting. There are evergreen privacy trees available for every size space; but you'll want to choose the right one early on to avoid any major legal issues or expensive tree removal.
- How long will your wall be? You'll want to measure your yard and plant the right amount of trees, with each tree getting the space it needs to thrive. If you buy your trees or shrubs in smaller pots at a younger age, it can save you a lot of money in the initial investment, but it will take longer for the gaps between the trees to fill in. If you plant two staggered rows instead of one row of plants, you can get even more protection against wind and noise pollution. The gaps will be blocked by the alternating row, filling in sightlines sooner.
- How much maintenance are you interested in? Some trees will need a watchful eye to look for any signs of pests or disease, even if they are otherwise the perfect tree for you. Other trees and shrubs, while beautiful, are a magnet for hungry deer. Some evergreen trees don't do as well in drought or heat, so they will need some extra water to get them through certain seasons. Any deciduous trees and shrubs could be a brilliant choice for three seasons, only to leave your home visible again every winter.
It's your garden and your home, so only you will know exactly how much time and effort you can commit to maintaining your living privacy wall. We wouldn't recommend on relying on your neighbor to assist with pruning - it's better to plant away from your property line so that you don't invite any unwanted issues with overhanging branches or upkeep chores.
Here are our favorite evergreen trees for blocking your neighbor's view.
Our Favorite Evergreen Trees for Privacy Walls
1. Thuja Green Giant (Thuja plicata x standishii)
2. American Pillar Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) Full Speed A Hedge® American Pillar
Stats: Growzones 3 - 8, Height 30 feet, Width 4- 5 feet, Growth Rate 3' - 4''per year. Plant 3 to 4 feet apart, so 25 for 100 feet in a single row, or 50 staggered. Full Sun, Well Draining Soil. Water until established.
Why we love them: These are becoming a very popular option for privacy walls, especially if you want to be able to plant your living wall a little closer to a building or fence than other privacy trees can handle. American Pillars reach up to a nice medium height of 30 feet high. These will also grow further north since they are a more cold hardy arborvitae. We can't grow enough of these!
3. Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd').
Honorable Mention - the brand-new Emerald Petite Arborvitae is a perfect choice for even smaller spaces - it stops growing at 6 feet tall! Balconies can sport an arborvitae with this container-friendly option.
4. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Stats: Growzones 3 - 8, Height 50 - 60 feet, Width 20- 30 feet, Growth Rate 3' - 4' per year. Plant 10 to 15 feet apart, so 5 for 100 feet in a single row, or 8-10 staggered. Full Sun to Part Shade, Well Draining Soil. Water until established, and some during drought.
Why we love them: Easter White Pines are a classic choice for creating a strong wind barrier in large spaces, as well as blocking homes from sight. These will also grow very tall very quickly, so plan accordingly if there are powerlines nearby. The branches are not as dense so a little more light will come through unless you stagger them or mix your pines in with some Arborvitae for variety.
5. Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii)
Stats: Growzones 5 - 9, Height 40 - 50 feet, Width 20- 25 feet, Growth Rate 3' - 4' per year. Plant 12 to 15 feet apart, so 6 to 8 for 100 feet in a single row, or 12 - 14 staggered. Full Sun, Well Draining Soil. Water until established.
Why we love them: Leyland Cypress Trees might be one of the most highly recommended trees for fast privacy. These are a classic and you can see them around many North American homes. They are not quite as disease resistant as their arborvitae counterparts, but they are extremely tolerant of many soil types. Leyland Cypress Trees can grow in warmer grow zones, so they make a great choice if you live in the south. The stunning deep green color year-round is an added bonus!
6. Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress Tree: (Cupressus arizonica 'Carolina Sapphire')
7. Norway Spruce Trees: (Picea abies)
Stats: Growzones 2 - 7, Height 50 - 65 feet, Width 25- 35 feet, Growth Rate 3' - 5' per year when young. Plant 16 to 25 feet apart, so 4 to 6 for 100 feet in a single row, or 8 to 12 staggered. Full Sun, Well Draining Soil. Water until established.
Why we love them: Norway Spruce Trees are a go-to tree for major privacy in large spaces. Towering at over 60 feet at maturity, these extra-large conifers are perfect if you want to block noise, wind, and sightlines from a busy freeway. You can plant these along farm fields or parks as well, since they are considered very hardy. Who doesn't want a handsome row of Christmas trees blocking the view from traffic? They make excellent habitats for wildlife while still being deer-resistant.
8. Honorable Shrub Mention - Schip Cherry Laurel Shrubs (Prunus laurocerasus 'Schipkaensis')
9. Honorable Shrub Mention - Hicks Yew (Taxus × media 'Hicksii')
Stats: Growzones 5 - 9, Height 10 - 15 feet, Width 6 - 8 feet, Growth Rate 1' - 2' per year. Plant 4 to 6 feet apart, so 25 for 100 feet in a single row, or 33 - 50 staggered. Full Sun to Partial Shade, Well Draining Soil, Highly Adaptable. Water until established.
Why we love them: Our other favorite shrub that we love so much we had to mention it. Hicks Yew are hardy shrubs that will grow to the perfect height for privacy. They're great for smaller hedges and wind buffers, provide year-round interest with red berries in the winter and deep green foliage, and will grow in both hot, dry areas and colder or shadier areas.
Everything You Need To Get Started:
Make sure to check out our Planting Guides for the best planting technique when you are first planting your privacy wall. We also recommend investing in a good irrigation tool, so that you can keep the young trees hydrated until they have established their root system. A long watering hose will help with especially long walls!
If you have any other questions about which tree is right for your privacy needs, do not hesitate to reach out. Our customer support team can help you choose which trees are right for your area, as well as which shrubs or perennials will match for decorating the area inside your privacy wall. Be comfortable knowing that your privacy is your right, in your home and in your yard as well. There are sustainable choices available to help block your neighbor's view.