7 Best Privacy Trees for Small Backyards


Discover the best privacy trees for small backyard spaces with our top picks, including Japanese maples and Leyland cypress, to create a lush, secluded oasis.

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Discovering the best privacy trees for small backyards can be a rewarding experience, as it allows you to transform your outdoor space into a secluded haven. This blog post will provide valuable insights and tips on selecting the perfect privacy tree that not only suits smaller yards but also meets your specific requirements.

We will explore the best trees, such as Japanese maples, Leyland cypress trees, arborvitae trees, crepe myrtles, and hydrangea plants that offer dense foliage or fast-growing characteristics ideal for creating an effective living fence. Furthermore, we will discuss essential planting guidelines and maintenance practices tailored to each type of tree.

In addition to focusing on individual species, this post delves into strategies for combining different plants in mixed hedges to enhance visual interest while maintaining optimal coverage. Lastly, we’ll share expert advice on the best time to plant these backyard trees and proper care techniques, including watering schedules and mulching methods.

By following my recommendations on the best privacy trees for small backyards, along with their care guidelines, you can achieve a beautiful yet functional landscape design that maximizes both aesthetic appeal and personal seclusion.

Best Privacy Trees for Small Backyards

My husband and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we have worked hard to create a backyard we love! Using trees and various perennial plants, our backyard is our own private oasis from our neighbors. I hope this post helps you do the same!

Table Of Contents:

red leaves of a Japanese Maple

Japanese Maples for Privacy

Looking for privacy trees for your small backyard? Japanese maples are perfect for creating a living fence with their dense foliage and slow-growing habit.

Choosing the right variety of Japanese maple for your climate

For the right climate, select a Japanese maple variety that is drought-tolerant for arid regions or cold-hardy for larger backyards.

Proper planting techniques and care tips

  • Dormant seasons: Plant during early spring or late fall for optimal root establishment.
  • Mulching: Use organic materials like wood chips or shredded bark to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Irrigation: Water regularly during the first year post-planting, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer once per year during early springtime for established plants only if needed based on soil test results.

For smaller yards or gardens, consider dwarf trees like crape myrtle or eastern red cedar, while Leyland Cypress trees are great for larger backyards.

Don’t let a lack of outdoor space stop you from creating privacy – flowering trees like deciduous or evergreen trees can also provide a privacy screen in urban gardens or smaller yards.

For the perfect privacy tree, plant a Japanese maple and enjoy both privacy and beauty in your outdoor space.

Leyland Cypress Trees: The Perfect Privacy Screen for Small Backyards

The Leyland cypress tree is a great tree for creating privacy in small backyards, with its dense foliage and fast-growing nature.

Fast-Growing and Low Maintenance

These evergreen trees can grow up to 3 feet per year, making them an excellent choice for homeowners seeking to create privacy in their outdoor space without waiting for years. They are also low maintenance, requiring minimal upkeep on your part.

Ideal Conditions for Leyland Cypress Trees

Leyland cypresses thrive in full sun exposure with well-draining soil and are drought-tolerant once established. They are great trees for USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10.

Pruning Techniques for Healthy and Well-Shaped Trees

  • Timing: Prune your Leyland cypress trees in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
  • Maintenance Pruning: Remove dead or damaged branches as needed throughout the year to maintain the health of your living fence.
  • Shaping: Trim your Leyland cypresses annually to keep them looking neat and tidy, being careful not to remove more than one-third of the foliage at a time.

Incorporating Leyland cypress trees into your backyard landscaping provides both beauty and functionality by creating a natural barrier between you and neighboring properties.

For large backyards, consider planting a wide range of trees, such as Japanese maples, crape myrtle, and deciduous trees. For small yards or gardens, dwarf trees such as the Eastern red cedar are good trees creating a living fence that provides privacy while taking up minimal space.

green leyland cypress tree closeup

Arborvitae Varieties for Privacy Fencing

Arborvitae is the perfect privacy tree for small backyards, offering a wide range of evergreen trees that provide privacy screens and create privacy in larger backyards.

Selecting the Best Arborvitae Variety Based on Your Needs

Choose from various arborvitae trees, including the slow-growing dwarf trees like ‘Emerald Green’ for small gardens or the fast-growing ‘Green Giant’ for larger backyards seeking more substantial privacy screens.

Planting instructions & ongoing maintenance requirements

  1. Determine planting location: Choose an area with well-draining soil that receives full sun or partial shade.
  2. Create proper spacing: Plant arborvitaes at least 4-6 feet apart to allow adequate room for growth while still creating a solid privacy screen.
  3. Mulch around tree bases: Apply mulch around the base of each tree after planting to help retain moisture and regulate temperature fluctuations in the soil.
  4. Water regularly: Water newly planted trees thoroughly and consistently throughout the first year, especially during periods of drought.
  5. Prune as needed: Pruning is typically minimal for arborvitaes; however, you may need to trim branches occasionally to maintain a desired shape or remove dead foliage.

Arborvitae trees are drought tolerant, making them perfect for urban gardens and large backyards, and they are planted close together to create a living fence with dense foliage.

Crepe Myrtle – The Perfect Ornamental Privacy Trees

Crepe myrtles are great trees to add to any sized backyard.

These trees are drought tolerant and grow best in zones 6-10 with partial sunlight exposure and well-draining soil types.

A Rainbow of Colors to Choose From

Crepe myrtles come in a vibrant array of colors, including white, pink, red, lavender, and purple – perfect for adding visual interest to any outdoor space.

Popular varieties include the Natchez, Tuscarora, and Muskogee, each offering a unique and stunning color.

Caring Tips for Your Crepe Myrtles

  • Watering: Regular watering during the first year after planting is essential to establish a strong root system.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins for optimal flowering performance.
  • Mulching: Adding a layer of organic mulch around the base of your tree helps retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Pest Control: Check for common pests like aphids and scale insects, and treat infestations with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
  • Pruning: Prune crepe myrtles in late winter or early spring to remove dead, damaged, or crossing branches and encourage healthy growth. Avoid heavy pruning as it can lead to weak, spindly growth and reduced flowering.

Crepe myrtles are a great option for creating privacy in small backyards, urban gardens, and larger outdoor spaces.

Consider planting this perfect privacy tree close together to create a living fence or privacy screen.

Fast-Growing Plants Providing Instant Seclusion

Create privacy in your small backyard with fast-growing plants like bamboo, privet, boxwood, red twig dogwood, and euonymus.

Bamboo Varieties Suitable for Small Backyards

  • Clumping Bamboo: Fargesia nitida and Bambusa multiplex are non-invasive types that grow in tight clusters.
  • Dwarf Bamboo: Pleioblastus pygmaeus or Sasa veitchii are great options for limited space or height control.

Tips on Planting & Maintaining Fast-Growing Plants

  1. Select the right location: Ensure plants receive at least six hours of sunlight daily and have enough room to spread out.
  2. Prepare the soil: Amend garden soil with compost before planting to provide essential nutrients.
  3. Maintain proper watering habits: Keep newly planted shrubs well-watered during their first year and adjust watering based on specific plant needs and climate conditions.
  4. Prune regularly: Pruning encourages bushier growth, which is essential for maintaining a dense privacy screen.

By choosing the right fast-growing plants, you can provide privacy for your yard in no time while adding visual interest to your outdoor space.

Hydrangea Plants: The Perfect Privacy Hedge for Your Outdoor Space

Hydrangea plants are great for creating privacy with their lush foliage and colorful flowers, and they’re easy to care for and do well planted close together.

Choose the Right Hydrangea Variety

For larger backyards, go for panicle hydrangeas like ‘Limelight’ or mophead hydrangeas like ‘Endless Summer’ for a wide range of colors; for smaller yards, try dwarf varieties like ‘Bobo.’

endless summer blue hydrangea plant close up

Planting and Care Tips

  • Location: Plant in partial sunlight with well-draining soil.
  • Mulching: Use organic materials like wood chips or pine needles to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Irrigation: Water regularly during the first year and during dry spells.
  • Fertilization: Add slow-release fertilizer in early spring for healthy growth and flowering.
  • Pruning: Prune in late winter or after blooming.

For more information on fertilizing hydrangeas and detailed pruning instructions, see this guide.

Planting Privacy Trees: Best Time and Care Tips

Plant privacy trees during dormant seasons for optimal growth and establishment, such as early spring or fall.

Essential care tips include mulching, regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Dormancy Periods Based on Tree Types

  • Evergreen trees like Leyland cypress may experience dormancy from November through February.
  • Deciduous trees like eastern red cedar may enter dormancy from late October to early March.
  • Flowering trees, such as crape myrtle, can have a shorter dormancy period between December and February.

Proper care and understanding of your chosen privacy tree’s specific needs will help create a lush, secluded outdoor space.

FAQs in Relation to Best Privacy Trees for Small Backyard

What’s the best small tree for privacy?

The Japanese Maple is an excellent choice for a small privacy tree with dense foliage that can be pruned to create a natural screen. Learn more about Japanese Maples.

What are fast-growing small trees for privacy?

The Leyland Cypress is considered one of the fastest-growing privacy trees, with growth rates up to 2-4 feet per year, providing dense coverage ideal for creating a living fence or barrier in your backyard. Read more about this fast-growing tree.

How do I choose a good privacy tree?

Consider factors such as size constraints, desired growth rate, climate compatibility, maintenance requirements, and overall appearance to choose a good privacy tree that suits your needs and preferences.

What are the best slow-growing trees?

Crepe Myrle and Japanese Maple trees are two of the best slow-growing trees.


Discover the best privacy trees for your small backyard – Japanese Maples offer beauty and screening, Leyland Cypress Trees provide natural barriers with proper pruning, and Arborvitae Trees serve as living fences.

Crepe Myrtles add southern charm while offering privacy benefits, and fast-growing plants provide instant solutions for those in a hurry.

Don’t forget about Hydrangea Plants, which make lush hedges when chosen based on size constraints. Follow our guidelines for planting times, watering schedules, and mulching techniques to ensure optimal care for your new privacy trees.

graphic best privacy trees

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