Create Privacy with Just-Right Trees & Shrubs
November 24, 2015
Trees do a lot of great things for us: They shade our homes, provide habitat and food for wildlife, plus help control soil erosion and flooding. Oh, and then there is all that air we breathe! Without trees, we’d have a hard time surviving.
Trees also serve another very important function in tight urban spaces: Privacy. Trees improve our vistas, block unsightly views, reduce noise between neighbors and help screen our neighbor’s view of our home and property.
There are a variety of trees and large shrubs you can plant to create privacy screens. Varieties with dense or evergreen foliage work best. The key is to make sure that the space your planting can accommodate the mature size of your trees and shrubs. Obviously, dwarf shrubs won’t give you the height you need to block the view of your neighbors...but some large trees can be overkill. While live oak trees are perfect for creating a massive evergreen privacy screen, they get BIG! All too often, these large trees are planted in urban spaces that are just too small for them in the long run.
If you don’t have a large lot, then consider using some of these “just-right” sized shrubs and trees to create privacy. Here are a few of our favorites:
Cherry laurel, also called Carolina cherry trees (Prunus caroliniana), are members of the rose family. They produce lush dense evergreen foliage on plants that grow naturally in a pyramidal shape. Plants grow up to about 40-feet tall at maturity, and reach about 20-feet wide - so they are good for planting near property lines to create a secluded back yard. Plants are fast growing and will produce small white flowers in spring. The small black berries that follow are popular with local birds. Plants do best with plenty of direct sun, but can tolerate some cast shade from surrounding structures or trees.
Texas mountain laurel
is a beautiful Texas native that can be used as a shrub or a small tree. Plants produce lustrous oval leaves that are evergreen. The glossy foliage is complemented by clusters of highly fragrant purple blooms in spring. While this is a slow growing plant, they eventually can grow up to 35-feet tall; however you typically find them in the 15-foot range in urban environments. Get a head start by planting as large of a specimen as you can find. Plant in a sunny location with good soil drainage, in USDA Zones 8 or warmer
Southern wax myrtle
Another Texas native, this small tree, or large shrub, produces grayish green leaves that have a nice fragrance. Plants also produce clusters of attractive blue to gray colored fruits on female plants. As plants are evergreen, they make a very nice privacy screen in small city landscapes. While it does prefer moist, slightly acidic soils, it is adaptable to varying conditions, including areas with poor drainage. Plants thrive in full sun, but will tolerate some light shade.
Juniper ‘Sky Rocket’ is a tall, narrow evergreen small tree, or large shrub, with lovely blue-gray foliage. They grow 15- to 20-feet tall but spread to only 2- to 3-feet wide so they are perfect for narrow spaces along fencelines. All junipers need full sun conditions in order to thrive, so keep them out of shady locations. Feed in spring and fall; and prune off unwieldy branches to keep the perfect columnar shape. Other than that, this is a low-maintenance privacy plant for North Texas.
Right tree, right place.
Choosing a tree for your space is an important decision. Keeping mature height and root spread in mind before you plant can mean the difference between a healthy, long-lived tree and one that has to be removed.