As the old saying goes, "good fences make good neighbors."
What, though, makes a good fence? One way to make a good fence is by landscaping with attractive trees and/or shrubs. In this post, we are going to look at some of the trees and shrubs that make the best natural privacy fences.
What Kind of Privacy Fence Do You Want?
Determining what you are looking for in a privacy fence will go a long way toward deciding which trees and shrubs will be your best option. For instance, conifers do a really good job at keeping down noise, as well as blocking views, all year round.
Deciduous trees, on the other hand, can provide lovely spring flowers and bright leaves in autumn. After the leaves drop, however, you don't have much privacy anymore. In some cases, that is okay. If having privacy for three seasons is fine for you (e.g., swimming pool), then deciduous trees are a very viable option.
How tall do you want your fence to be? Planting a six-foot tree will do you no good if you want an eight-foot fence.
If you are looking for immediate privacy, rather then letting it grow in over the course of a few years, then you'll want to opt for trees and shrubs that are fast growers.
What About Hedges?
A classic option for a natural privacy fence is a row of hedges. The hedges you see most often are sheared privet hedges. They are a popular option, because the have a clean appearance and can be trimmed to just about any height.
In addition to privet hedges, Arborvitae is another popular option. If you want a fast grower, the Green Giant Arborvitae certainly fits the bill. It can grow up to three feet a year and top out at about 60-feet tall.
If 60 feet is too high for you, consider Emerald Arborvitae, which tops out at 15 feet, but can be trimmed shorter to meet you needs.
Let's Talk Layers
Your first instinct might be to find a tree or shrub you like, then plant a row of them. In a line. Perfectly spaced. Just because we use the term "fence," however, doesn't mean your natural privacy fence has to be built like and regular fence. From a practical standpoint, if you choose just one type of tree or shrub for your whole fence, you are putting yourself in a situation. If a bug or disease hits a tree, it could easily spread and wipe out all of the trees.
A better option would be to layer some different trees and shrubs for your privacy fence. Not only is it an effective way to create privacy, it also looks fantastic. Just picture a combination of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Sounds more appealing than a straight line of evergreens, doesn't it?
To be sure, a blend of conifers and deciduous trees are an ideal foundation. When you start layering in shrubs, perennials and annuals, you get a beautiful mix of textures and colors... not to mention that privacy!
A good tactic is to choose plants of different green and blue hues. To keep it looking lovely all year round, opt for some plants that have blooms and some that have berries. By layering this way, your plants offer shelter and food for birds, butterflies, and bees, which is also great for your garden, if you have one.
Remember, you can also work in annuals, perennials, and even some ornamental grasses to create a nice variety. Container plants are another option, particularly bunched together on a deck or patio. Feel free to pick your favorites!
Popular Trees for Privacy Fences
For the back of your privacy fence, trees are the natural choice. Here are some popular options that provide more privacy as they mature in time.
There is versatility with this one, as you can use it as a large hedge or small tree. In addition, it turns a sensational red color in autumn. If you opt to use it as a hedge, rather than as a tree, you should let a few trunks grow, then shear the limbs now and again to encourage branching.
Featuring soft, blue-hued needles, this tree does well with exposure to sun and wind. It also has a wonderful, citrusy scent.
The real benefit of this tree is that, as it matures, its canopy spread gets very thick. This means that, over time, it offers more and more privacy.
Growing about a foot each year and topping out at 35 feet, Hedge maples are a quite a bit smaller than other maple trees. It's also a pretty low-maintenance option that thrives in just about any type of soil.
A gorgeous conifer, it features medium-to-dark foliage. In addition to being a beautiful trees, it's also a fast grower. Adding about three feet a year (and sometime even <i>more</i>) it's a really popular choice when privacy is the primary concern.
Smaller Trees for Your Privacy Fence
If you situate smaller trees properly, it can add to privacy if you are using a layering technique. Ideally, you want trees that branch out near the base of the tree. Some common options include:
Popular Shrubs for Privacy Fences
Working some interesting shrubs into the middle of your privacy fence is a good idea. Here are some shrubs that are all a little different:
If you opt for the "Blue Muffin" variety, you are in for a dynamic display. Spring brings white flowers. Late summer offers blue fruit. In autumn, it shows off a beautiful blend of red, yellow, and purple foliage.
Like Juniper, this one is a versatile conifer. It comes in a number of different varieties, should you want to use them as shrubs and/or trees. Whichever option you choose, you'll rest easy in knowing that they grow well in both shade and sun.
Another fast grower, this one can top out at 15 feet, but is very easy to shear to the level you want. Some varieties also offer variegated foliage if you want a little extra pizzazz.
Sure, this one may not be as sexy as some of the others on the list, but it is versatile and hardy. Juniper also comes in a number of different varieties that can accommodate any of your needs, from creepers, to shrubs, to trees. No matter which one you choose, though, you can rest assured that they all respond nicely to pruning, which is ideal for a hedge.
Who doesn't love the smell of lilacs? These ones are among the easiest to grow, as well, reaching up to eight feet. In May, they just burst with beautiful purple flowers.
This one grows really fast and its foliage is just gorgeous. Depending upon which kind you get, you'll have lovely gold or purple leaves. Its bark also peels for a unique look.
Variegated Red-Twig Dogwood
The red bark on this shrub looks beautiful in winter. Beyond that, it features variegated leaves and little white flowers that are followed by little white berries with blue and green tints.
A Word About Power Lines
Before you put any trees in the ground, you need to be sure you know how tall they grow and what your proximity is to power lines. Trees that grow into power lines are a hazard and a headache waiting to happen.
You can learn more about this in a recent post we published regarding trees and power lines.
In addition to providing privacy, a natural privacy fence can be beautiful to look at, as well as add value to your home. Good fences make good neighbors, and we can help you design a good fence.
If you are ready to add a natural privacy fence to your landscaping, E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply can help. We offer full tree and shrub planting services for a variety of different environments. To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at (517) 990-0110 today.