20 Best Evergreen Trees for Privacy and Year-Round Greenery

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20 Best Evergreen Trees for Privacy and Year-Round Greenery

northern white-cedar shrubs along fence line

Jason Wilde

Planting evergreen trees as privacy screens often looks friendlier than a fence, is cheaper than a wall, and prettier than lattice. It may take longer to reach a size to fully do the job, but it will likely outlast any of these other options for creating privacy and look better, too. Here are 20 of the best types of evergreen trees to plant for screening, offering a range of leaf colors, textures, and adaptability to various growing conditions.

What Are Evergreen Trees?

Evergreen trees are woody plants that keep their leaves or needles year-round rather than dropping them for winter like deciduous trees do.

Douglas Fir

Kindra Clineff

For the noble, spirelike shape that evergreen lovers admire so much, plant douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Though it’s often featured as a lone tree, it also looks great massed as a screen in evergreen landscaping. Douglas fir doesn’t like hot, dry winds but will do excellent where there’s moisture in the soil and in the air. The soft-textured tree has variable color, depending on seed source, with the blue-green types being the most attractive and hardy.

Growing Conditions: Full sun in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 80 feet tall

Zones: 5-7

Eastern Red Cedar

Kindra Clineff

So adaptable you’ll find it growing on dry, rocky slopes and at the edges of swamps, eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) also thrive as urban screens and rural windbreaks. This densely branched juniper has rich green summer foliage turning ruddy brown-green in winter.

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Zones: 2-9

White Pine

Denny Schrock

Some varieties of white pine (Pinus strobus) can grow 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide, so this evergreen needs plenty of room. But for smaller yards, you can also find columnar varieties that max out at 20 feet in height and 14 feet in width, a perfect size for screens. White pine is a fast-growing tree with soft, billowy texture that’s a welcome departure from the rigid look of many other evergreens. The blue-green needles are attractive year-round, and a portion of them drop to the ground periodically, so the trees are self-mulching.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 80 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Concolor Fir

Like white pine, concolor fir (Abies concolor) can adapt to a variety of growing conditions. Also known as white fir, it’s a good choice for hot, dry conditions and winter cold, but it grows best with an evenly moist soil that has good drainage. The blue-gray needles have a white luster, which explains the common name. In addition to its unique needles, concolor fir has an attractive conical shape with tiered branches, so it works as a specimen to block a view or partnered with other trees in evergreen landscaping.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 70 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

Norway Spruce

Denny Schrock

Easy to spot among other evergreens, Norway spruce (Picea abies) has the pyramidal shape typical of many conifers, but the horizontal branches reach upward, allowing the stems to hang down gracefully. The effect is both beautiful and distinctive. Norway spruce grows 50 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide, but popular varieties tend to be on the smaller side.

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 60 feet tall

Zones: 2-7

Deodar Cedar

Edward Gohlich

One of the only true cedars, deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) is very adaptable, grows fast, and has dense branching in youth. It’s perfect for a screen or as part of evergreen landscaping, but it also makes a striking solo tree with blue-green needles and graceful, gently weeping branches that become more artistic with age.

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Zones: 7-8

False Cypress

A valuable addition to your winter garden, false cypress (Chamaecyparis spp.) has plenty of varieties with different shapes and colors. Not surprisingly, it’s also wonderful for adding privacy. Some false cypress cultivars can be trimmed like a hedge; others can be allowed to reach their fluffy, twisted, or contorted potential. Colors range from blue-gray to golden-green.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 75 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

The 10 Best Hedge Trimmers for Perfectly Manicured Shrubs

Leyland Cypress

Erica George

Another warm-climate evergreen tree for privacy, leyland cypress (Cupressus x leylandii) is a natural for screening hedges, thanks to its columnar shape and year-round color. If the feathery, blue-green foliage doesn’t grab you, there are cultivars with yellow, gray, or bright green foliage.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 70 feet tall

Zones: 6-9

American Arborvitae

northern white-cedar shrubs along fence line

Jason Wilde

The go-to evergreen for lining a fence, American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), also known as eastern arborvitae, can live for several hundred years. Most popular varieties mature at 10 to 15 feet, much smaller than in the wild, making them perfect for year-round privacy in evergreen landscaping. American arborvitae is durable and adaptable, but its biggest problem is deer browsing (wrap arborvitae in burlap in the winter or spray with a deer repellent to ward off deer).

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in consistently moist soil

Size: Up to 70 feet tall

Zones: 2-7

10

Yew

The tree of immortality, some ancient specimens of yew (Taxus spp.) have lived for thousands of years. In evergreen landscaping, yews are often used as hedges and foundation plantings. The dark green foliage and colorful red berries are a welcome sight in winter, and birds love the shelter of yews, too.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained or dry soil (yews can’t tolerate soggy soil)

Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Zones: 4-7

Yews can be poisonous to humans and lethal to animals so it’s best to avoid planting them if you have small children or pets/livestock around.

11

American Holly

Doug Hetherington

A native evergreen that provides food and shelter for a variety of pollinators and other wildlife, American holly (Ilex opaca) has a loose conical habit. It’s beloved for its bright red or orange berries in fall and is prized for its deer resistance. Plant both male and female cultivars to ensure berry production. Winter protection is important in Zones 5 and 6; plant American holly in a location that is protected from winter wind.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Provide afternoon shade in Zones 8 and 9.

Size: Up to 60 feet tall

Zones: 5–9

12

Italian Cypress

Native to dry, mountainous locations in Europe and Asia, Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) has good drought tolerance when it is established but requires regular watering for the first year or so after planting. Italian cypress is prized for its fast growth as a young plant and strongly upright habit—no pruning needed. These tall and stately evergreen shrubs most often function like exclamation points in the landscape. Group several of them together to create a lofty hedge.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 40 feet or more

Zones: 7–10

13

Chinese Juniper

A slow-growing evergreen shrub with prickly needles, Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) is an excellent plant for a barrier hedge. Plant it where you want to deter humans and animals from traveling. Its dense green or blue-green branches form a loose pyramidal shape. Chinese juniper does best in full sun but will tolerate part shade, where it tends to develop a loose, open habit. There are many varieties of Chinese juniper; choose an upright variety to create a hedge.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 50 feet tall

Zones: 4–9

14

Blue Spruce

Justin Hancock

Grown for the dusty blue hue of its needles, blue spruce (Picea pungens) stands out when planted alongside green-needled evergreens. Plant it with Black Hills spruce and white pine for a striking privacy screen. Blue spruce is native to the central Rocky Mountains where cool temperatures and well-drained soil prevail. It doesn’t tolerate heat and humidity well. Keep young plants consistently moist until they are established. It becomes more drought tolerant after establishes a strong root system.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 30 to 60 feet

Zones: 2–7

15

Bay Laurel

bay laurel evergreen tree in garden

The leathery leaves of this large evergreen shrub can be harvested, dried, and used to flavor savory dishes. Sometimes called sweet bay, bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) has a dense growth habit and loose, rounded structure that makes it a welcome contrast to strongly upright evergreen shrubs. Plant several slow-growing bay laurel shrubs together to create a dense hedge.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall and wide

Zones: 8–10

16

Black Hills Spruce

An evergreen with short needles, Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca ‘Densata’) grows best in cool climates. It is a popular type of Christmas tree and has the classic pyramidal holiday tree shape. Perfect for a windbreak, this evergreen tree has dense, full branching and good wind resistance. It does grow slowly but a mature Black Hills spruce is worth the wait.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.

Size: 35 to 45 feet tall

Zones: 2-6

17

Japanese Cedar

Erica George Dines

A needled evergreen with a soft, fine texture, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) is a great alternative to Leyland cypress. Pyramidal and mounding cultivars offer a variety of forms for use as a hedge or in a mixed screen of evergreen shrubs. Look for a dwarf variety for smaller landscapes.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 40 feet tall

Zones: 5–9

18

Southern Wax Myrtle

Denny Schrock

Tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions and a favorite nectar source for pollinators, Southern wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) is a multi-stemmed tree or large shrub. Its broad olive-green leaves are glossy and fragrant when crushed. Plant three to five plants together to create a living screen in a small space.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and average to wet soil

Size: Up to 20 feet tall

Zones: 7–10

19

Japanese Holly

If you’re looking for an evergreen to shear into a formal shape, Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) might be a good fit. Tolerant of severe pruning and popular for creating topiaries, Japanese holly has small, deep green leaves and dense branching. It is a slow-growing shrub. Native to thickets and wetlands in Japan, Japanese holly adapts to many soil types but grows best in moist soil and cool climates. It doesn’t grow well in the high heat and humidity of Zones 8.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 5 to 10 feet tall

Zones: 5–8

20

Western Red Cedar

A pyramidal tree with soft, scale-like leaves, western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is also called giant western arborvitae; it’s native to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. It’s a fast-growing tree and thrives in cooler climates. Its drooping branches with graceful, upturned ends, give it an attractive, relaxed appearance when planted as a screen. Use a western cedar hedge like this one as a backdrop for colorful flowers.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 50 feet tall; many dwarf varieties available

Zones: 5–7

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which evergreen trees grow the fastest?

    Among the fastest growing evergreen trees are Leyland cypress, which can grow 2-3 feet in a year, and ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae, with a growth rate-5 feet per year.

  • Which evergreen trees are the easiest to grow?

    The easiest evergreen trees to grow are those that are native to your climate and planted in their preferred conditions.

Sources

Better Homes & Gardens is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources—including peer-reviewed studies—to support the facts in our articles. Read about our editorial policies and standards to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.

  1. Krenzelok EP, Jacobsen TD, Aronis J. Is the yew really poisonous to you? J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1998;36(3):219-23. doi: 10.31/1556365988942. PMID: 9656977.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

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