Having your home or family activities on display for nosy neighbors is unnecessary. Knowing which fast-growing evergreen trees to plant for screening and shade will help you regain your privacy, outdoor comfort, and potentially increase your property’s curb appeal.
toddsmariettatreeservices.com gathered the following information about fast-growing evergreen trees to help you make informed decisions about planting the right shade and privacy trees in your yard.
Fast-Growing Evergreen Trees for Privacy
The following evergreens are fast-growing, long-lived, and highly recommended for planting as a year-round privacy screen.
American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) – Also known as eastern arborvitae, this species is most well-known and potentially the hardiest of the arborvitae.
- Growth and Dimensions – Provided optimal growing conditions, American arborvitae can grow as fast as 3 feet per year and reach heights of 40 to 60 feet with a spread of 4 to 12 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Thuja occidentalis thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8 and can live from 50 to 150 years.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant arborvitaes in full sun or partial shade. The soil should be well-drained and free from clods, rocks, large weeds, and invasive plants that will compete for water and nutrients. Since this species reaches an average of 10 feet across at maturity, planting them 10 feet apart will work best in most scenarios.
- Pricing – Thuja occidentalis can be found between $15 and $20 for a 1 to 2-foot specimen and $45 to $55 for a 2 to 3-foot tree.
Note: Depending on the species and cultivar, arborvitae can grow as a shrub remaining under 3 feet tall or as a 70-foot tree 25 feet wide.
Green Giant Arborvitae (thuja standishii x plicata) – Also known as Thuja plicata “Green Giant,” this tall, narrow, evergreen tree can be planted for privacy or as a specimen.
- Growth and Dimensions – When planted in optimal conditions, Thuja plicata can grow as fast as 4 feet per year and reach heights of 45 to 65 feet with a spread of 12 to 20 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Thuja plicata thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8 and can live from 40 to 60 years.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant this arborvitae in full sun with partial afternoon shade. Soil should be moist but well-drained. Besides being drought tolerant, this species is pest and disease-resistant. Planting these trees 5 feet apart usually works best for privacy screens.
- Pricing – Thuja plicata can be found between $15 and $30 for a 1 to 2-foot specimen and $30 to $55 for a 2 to 3-foot tree.
Note: Arborvitae’s rot-resistance and fragrant qualities make it a popular choice for roofing shingles, hope/storage chests, and some musical instruments.
Leyland cypress (Cupressus × leylandii) – This fast-growing conifer is a hybrid cross between the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and nootka false cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) species. Leyland cypress wood is popular in furniture making and boatbuilding.
- Growth and Dimensions – When properly planted and cared for, Leyland cypress can grow from 1.5 to 3 feet per year and reach heights of 60 to 70 feet with a spread of 15 to 25 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Cupressus × leylandii thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10 and can live from 10 to 20 years.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant Leyland cypress in full sun or partial shade. The soil should be moist, well-drained, and acidic to slightly alkaline with a pH between 5.0 and 8.0. Planting this species 4 to 6 feet apart will provide a decent privacy screen within 2 to 4 years. If you are not in a hurry, plant your cypress trees 6 to 15 feet apart.
- Pricing – Cupressus × leylandii can be found between $15 and $25 for a 1 to 2-foot specimen and $35 to $45 for a 2 to 3-foot tree.
Tip: When planting along a fence, plant your Leyland cypress trees a minimum of 5 feet from the fence; this will allow them space to grow in that direction as well.
Fast Growing Evergreen Shade Trees
The following evergreen trees are fast-growing and highly recommended for planting as year-round shade trees.
Eucalyptus Trees (Eucalyptus globulus) – This delightful, fast-growing evergreen tree is highly popular for its fast growth, year-round shade, and commanding presence when it reaches maturity.
- Growth and Dimensions – When properly planted and cared for, a eucalyptus tree can grow from 3 to 4.5 feet per year and reach heights of 150 to 180 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 to 7 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Eucalyptus globulus thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11, and most species live from 200 to 250 years.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant eucalyptus trees in full sun or partial shade. The species will tolerate a wide range of soil types as long as it is well-drained with low salinity. When planting multiple eucalyptus trees, they should be spaced 30 to 40 feet apart.
- Pricing – Eucalyptus trees ready for planting can be found between $75 and $110 for a 1 to 2-foot specimen and $50 to $70 for a 2 to 3-foot tree. Depending on the species and size of the tree, these prices can fluctuate dramatically.
Note: Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful tree species planet-wide, the rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) transforms Into a rainbow as its bark sheds.
Boxwood Tree (Buxus sempervirens) – Also known as American boxwood, common boxwood, and European box, this plush, dark green species is often referred to and considered a shrub.
- Growth and Dimensions – When properly planted and cared for, boxwood trees can grow from 6 to 12 inches per year and reach heights of 15 to 20 feet with a spread of 15 to 20 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Buxus sempervirens thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8 and can live from 20 to 30 years.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant boxwood trees in full sun or partial shade (in warmer climates, boxwoods will benefit from afternoon shade). The species will tolerate a wide range of soil types as long as it is well-drained.
- Pricing – Buxus sempervirens can be found between $25 and $60, depending on the species and size.
Note: Boxwoods are frequently pruned into specific shapes and commonly found in topiaries.
Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) – This species is often referred to as eastern hemlock or Canadian hemlock and, before medical advancements, was considered valuable for its medicinal value. Today, the species is more commonly used for shade.
- Growth and Dimensions – Given optimal growing conditions, Tsuga canadensis can grow as fast as 2 feet per year and reach heights of 40 to 70 feet with a spread of 25 to 35 feet at maturity.
- Hardiness Zone and Lifespan – Tsuga canadensis thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8 and can live up to 800 years, often taking 200 to 300 years to reach maturity.
- Planting and Spacing – Plant hemlocks in partial shade for best results. The soil should be well-drained sandy or loam. This species should be planted 30 to 40 feet apart and 15 to 20 feet from structures.
- Pricing – Tsuga canadensis can be found between $80 and $140 for a 5 to 6-foot specimen and $150 to $180 for a 6 to 7-foot tree.
Note: Besides making an excellent shade tree, Eastern hemlocks also respond well to shearing, making them a dense and graceful privacy screen.
If you would like more options, see our blog post for 5 Popular Marietta Georgia Shade Trees.
Fast-Growing Evergreen Trees
Evergreen trees add an elegant touch to your landscape, often without much maintenance required to keep them healthy and vigorous. However, not all evergreen trees are created equal. Some evergreen tree species grow incredibly fast, dwarfing other tree species in a matter of one or two growing seasons, making them highly desirable when planted for privacy and shade. Evergreens are pretty resistant, but winter freezing temperatures can be problematic. Once planted, learn about Tips for Protecting Your Evergreen Trees and Shrubs this Winter to protect your investment and see to it that they become the healthy shade trees you intended.
Evergreens for Privacy and Shade
In this article, you discovered species, planting, and pricing information about fast-growing evergreens for shade and privacy.
Knowing how evergreens grow, you can make informed decisions about which species will suit your landscape better as shade trees or as privacy screening.
Not knowing which evergreens to plant for screening may lead you to plant slow-growing species, delaying the time it will take to regain your privacy.