Landscape Design Idea for Privacy (Best Trees and Shrubs by Zone)

Landscape Design Idea for Privacy (Best Trees and Shrubs by Zone)

As you walk into your backyard after a long day, you’re instantly transported to a peaceful, green oasis. …until you hear the dog barking two doors down or see your neighbors strolling over to interrupt.

Sometimes, we just want to getaway–without having to leave home. That’s why a Davey blog reader asked for help making her backyard more secluded and advice on how to plant a privacy border.

Below, we’re sharing design tips and the best trees to plant for privacy and noise reduction.

Privacy Landscape Ideas – and The Best Privacy Landscaping Plants

Photo courtesy of the Arasapha Garden Club

I want a quieter backyard. Any privacy garden designs you can share?

Before you dive in, first identify your goals by walking around your space and taking notes.

“Think about the purpose of this space and what you want to achieve with your new design. How do you want the space to feel and look? Where are the biggest eyesores you want to block?” said Jason Gaskill.

Gaskill is a landscape expert and an assistant district manager at Davey in Delaware. In fact, his tree service and lawn team in Wilmington just completed a garden renovation at the Arasapha Garden Club.

Their goal was to accurately replicate what the garden would have looked like in the early 1700s while also blocking nearby modern structures.

“When we started, you could see the modern siding and gutters of the building next door. We wanted it to feel like you’re stepping back in time, so we had to make the garden more private,” Gaskill said.

Through that project, Gaskill learned some of the best design tricks to create a secluded outdoor space. Before you start, though, consider his biggest piece of advice.

“Step back and think, really think, about what you want your garden to look like. Creating a new garden design entails much more than grabbing a few new plants at your local garden center,” Gaskill shares. “You have to answer a ton of questions. And work with a qualified designer you trust. They’ll help you create a space you’ll love and use for years to come.”

Try some of these ideas below:

  • Plant a privacy border. Most often, we see evergreen hedges used to create a living, privacy border. Spice up this classic look by planting different types of shrubs – not just one variety. This way, if a disease or pest invades one shrub, your entire border won’t be affected.

  • Create a living fence. Plant flowering shrubs close together, so they graft and begin to grow as a single plant. Choose self-grafting plants to make it easier, and be patient. This look often takes a year to establish.

  • Block out noise with trees and water. If you’ve got a noisy yard, plant trees! They muffle urban noise by up to 50%, almost as much as a stone wall, found USDA research. If you still hear noise sneaking through, add in a fountain or water element to drown out the noise.

  • Space it out. Plan how big each plant will be when it’s mature. Keep that in mind when deciding where it will go and what to plant near it. Also, larger, established trees and shrubs cost more upfront. But if you start with smaller plants, you’ll have to wait for your privacy to grow in.

  • Go lush with layers. When you layer trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials, you create a much more natural woodland space that also blocks out noise.

Ok. I’ve mapped out where I’d like plants. What are the best privacy shrubs to plant by zone?

Photo courtesy of the Arasapha Garden Club. 

Before picking your plants, consider this piece of advice from an expert. “Use a variety of plants to create a private garden that’s really intriguing and different,” said Gaskill. “There are so many different colors and textures to choose from beyond the standard evergreens.”

Also, choose plants in your gardening zone to set yourself up for success.

Click to find out what gardening zone you are in. Plants in your zone are most likely to thrive in the climate and weather of your area.

Best trees for privacy and noise reduction (by zone)

This red maple tree is ideal for zones 3-9.

  1. Eastern red cedar (zones 2-7): A sun-loving evergreen that can handle the heat
  2. Spruce (zones 2-7): Any spruce blocks noise and grows tall to create a private space
  3. White oak (zones 3-9): A slow-growing shade tree with great fall color
  4. Silver or red maple (zones 3-9): Fast-growing shade trees with unbelievable fall foliage
  5. Pine (zones 3-10): Any variety of pine will provide privacy and reduce noise
  6. Douglas fir (zones 4-6): A beautiful, classic evergreen that looks great in any space
  7. Evergreen magnolias (zones 4-9): Ornamental trees with year-round interest
  8. American holly (zones 4-9): An ornamental tree with soft needles and red berries
  9. Leyland or bald cypress (zones 4-10; 6-10): Fast-growing, slender conifers
  10. Dawn redwood (zones 5-8): A fast-growing, low-maintenance conifer

Best shrubs for privacy and noise reduction (by zone)

 This holly bush is ideal for zones 5-8.

  1. Viburnum (zones 2-9): Shrubs that provide color and interest in every season

  2. Juniper (2-9): A fast-growing, drought-tolerant evergreen shrub

  3. Eastern or giant arborvitae (zones 3-7): A fast-growing, pyramid-shaped hedge

  4. Dogwoods (zones 3-9): A tough and easy to care for shrub with blooms

  5. Yew (zones 4-7): A classic shrub or hedge that lends itself well to pruning and topiary

  6. Privet (zones 4-8): A fast-growing shrub with glossy leaves that works as a hedge

  7. Boxwood (zones 4-8): Versatile and compact evergreens that look great in formal gardens

  8. Forsythia (zones 5-8): A fast-growing shrub with bright yellow flowers in spring

  9. Holly (zones 5-8): A low-maintenance shrub with timeless shiny leaves and perfect red berries

  10. Rose-of-Sharon (zones 5-9): An easy to grow hibiscus that’s perfect for borders or as a hedge

When is the best time to plant a privacy border or implement my new garden design?

 Planting in fall and spring is best! So, start planning a season or two before you want to plant.

“The sooner you start planning your new garden design, the better! People are surprised by the amount of time and planning it takes to turn a design idea into a reality. So, if you want to renovate your garden next spring, talk to your landscape designer this fall or in winter,” Gaskill advises.

Click to learn more about how Davey can help you transform your outdoor space.

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