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Best screening Trees

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Best screening Trees2020-09-26T12:27:59+00:00

Living privacy screens have had a recent surge in popularity, although they have been in use for thousands of years! They can be in hedge form or individual screening plants, but the main purpose is to provide privacy in the summer and light in the winter.

Here we will list the best screening plants to use for living privacy screens, along with detailed information about each of them.

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5 Varieties of Best Screening Trees

Accr ginnala ‘Flame’

Carpinus betulus

Fagus sylratica

Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

Taxodium distichum

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Fast growing hedges

Flame Amur Maple

Accr ginnala ‘Flame’

European Hornbeam

Carpinus betulus

European Beech

Fagus sylratica

Royal Star Magnolia

Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

Baid Cypress

Taxodium distichum

Screening vs. Privacy Hedging

Screening and hedging are very similar concepts, with one notable difference: privacy hedges are dense, evergreen, and you cannot see through them, while screening plants provide privacy in summer and allow light through in the winter. This could be from dropping their leaves or from being spaced further apart at planting. Looking for the best privacy hedges?

Screening trees
beech hedge as one of the best screening trees.

Example of a Privacy Screen

Deciduous European Beech provides privacy in summer yet allows light through in winter.

When to use a Screen

Privacy screen trees are best planted in areas where privacy is desired during summer months but would suffer from lack of light in the winter if a privacy hedge was used.

A great example would be a typical suburban backyard space: heavily used in the warmer months for outdoor entertaining, perhaps with a swimming pool, making privacy and noise-blocking a must. In northern climates especially, where daylight hours in winter are scarce, getting as much light into the house as possible is vital during the colder months. Having a tall screening plants as a deciduous trees or shrubs is the perfect solution! It provides a lush, leafy backdrop for outdoor activities, giving privacy and reducing noise. When the leaves fall in winter, precious winter sunlight filters through beautifully. You can plant an instant screen using InstantHedge, or plant a conventional screen using individual trees or shrubs. You can compare InstantHedge vs. Conventional hedges here.

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In summer, this beech hedge gives privacy. In winter, it allows precious light into the home.

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In urban settings with outdoor living areas, summer privacy is the main concern

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This cottage has summer privacy from the surrounding hedge, and gets plenty of light in the winter

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This outdoor living space has summer privacy and winter light thanks to the hornbeam screen

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This pool is used exclusively in the summer, so a deciduous privacy hedge is perfect

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Beech creates seasonal privacy around a summer vegetable garden

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Cornelian-cherry makes a beautiful screen with seasonal interest

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This patio is used only in spring, summer, and fall, when the beech hedge has leaves.

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Hornbeam creates a dense summer privacy screen

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Privacy and wind protection are achieved in summer around this pool with a beech screen

Best Screening Trees

Although you could install large, evergreen screening plants by planting them further apart originally, planting a deciduous hedge is our favorite method. This provides full privacy in the summer, while far-spaced evergreens will not. These are our favorite garden screening plants:

Flame Amur Maple

Acer ginnala ‘Flame’

fast growing evergreen shrubs for privacy
fast growing privacy plants

Flame Amur Maple (Acer ginnala ‘Flame’) is one of the best screening trees and has outstanding fall color in fiery reds, oranges, and yellows. It is very cold-hardy (down to -40ºF!), making especially well-suited to the Northern US. It can easily be grown as a screen thanks to its multi-stemmed natural habit and can be maintained by pruning once per year. Amur maple is one of the fast growing screening plants. It thrives in full sun to part shade, and it is quite drought-tolerant once established. Learn more about Flame Amur Maple hedges here.

NAME Acer ginnala ‘Flame’ (Flame Amur Maple)

EVERGREEN/DECIDUOUS Deciduous (Fiery fall color)

HARDINESS ZONE Zones 3-8

GROWTH RATE Fast (Up to 2 feet per year)

GROWTH HABIT Multi-Stemmed

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS Sun to Part Shade

DEER/PESTS Deer

MAINTENANCE Prune 1 time per year

European Beech

Fagus sylvatica

hedge screening

Beech hedging (Fagus Sylvatica) is extremely popular in Europe, and American gardens with a European style just aren’t complete without a beech hedge. Although deciduous, beech will hold their leaves through much of the winter months, adding a copper-colored texture to the winter landscape.
They are low maintenance screening plants but will grow to a large size if desired. Dense branching provides optimum privacy in the summer.
There are varieties with dark burgundy to purple foliage that are particularly stunning. Learn more about European Beech hedges.

NAME Fagus sylvatica (European Beech)

EVERGREEN/DECIDUOUS Deciduous (copper leaves persist)

HARDINESS ZONE Zones 5-8

GROWTH RATE Moderate (‘<1-2’ feet per year)

GROWTH HABIT Heavily-branched

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS Sun to Part Shade

DEER/PESTS None

MAINTENANCE Prune 1 time per year

European Hornbeam

Carpinus betulus

Best screening plants
Screening plants

Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) is a very popular choice for screening and hedging. A natural screening plant with yellow fall color, Carpinus holds its brown leaves through much of the winter to provide extra privacy. It is easy to grow and has wonderful resistance to many pests and diseases. You can learn more about Hornbeam hedges here.

NAME Carpinus betulus (European Hornbeam)

EVERGREEN/DECIDUOUS Deciduous (copper leaves persist)

HARDINESS ZONE Zones 4-8

GROWTH RATE Moderate (‘<1-2’ feet per year)

GROWTH HABIT Heavily-branched, pyramidal

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS Sun to Part Shade

DEER/PESTS None

MAINTENANCE Prune 1 time per year

Royal Star Magnolia

Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

garden screening plants
Screening plants region

Royal Star Magnolia is a beautiful choice for those looking for a truly stunning and unique privacy screen! This magnolia is covered in fragrant, large, white flowers in late winter to early spring, followed by vibrant green foliage through the summer. This screening shrub is a compact grower, so it requires very little pruning. Prefers moist soil and full sun. Deer resistant. You can learn more about Royal Star Magnolia hedges here.

NAME Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ (Royal Star Magnolia)

EVERGREEN/DECIDUOUS Deciduous

HARDINESS ZONE Zones 5-9

GROWTH RATE Moderate (‘<1-2’ feet per year)

GROWTH HABIT Heavily-branched, pyramidal

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS Full Sun

DEER/PESTS None

MAINTENANCE Prune 1 time per year or as needed

Arrowwood Viburnum

Viburnum dentatum