If you’ve spent any time at all on social media platforms, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every woman, man, and his dog, are quite content to air their dirty laundry in public.
I’m sure I’m not alone though, when I say that I still value my privacy very highly, whether that is in the digital realm or in actual reality, and one place I definitely want to keep private is my very own garden.
Living in close proximity to our neighbours is a reality for many of us in the UK, where land is both limited, and quite expensive. A lot of us also have to deal with passers by taking a quick peek into the property as they pass by on their way to the shops too.
So, finding a way to create your own little private space, free from prying eyes, not so pleasant views, outside noise, and anything else that would threaten to ruin your tranquility, should be right up there on your list priorities.
A lot of folks opt for large fences or garden walls, but today we are going to talk about another, far more beautiful, way to shut out the outside world. What I’m talking about is using trees to provide privacy
But, what are the best trees for privacy in your garden? In this article we will explore the options available to those of you looking to build their own living wall.
Choosing a planting option
There are different ways to plant trees for privacy in your garden, and the layout of your garden, how much space you have, and other factors, might play a part in which one you go for. Obviously, the simplest one is to plant your trees in a single row, and this can work well if you don’t have a great deal of space, and looks good lined up against a fence.
Planting in multiple staggered rows is best for completely blocking out the outside, or to stop anyone getting a peek in, but you need to have the space to do it. Cluster planting is similar to multiple rows, but done in a smaller group and not in a row, but a more random looking formation. This type is great for closing an isolated part of the garden off, or eliminating a streetlight or something else you don’t want to see from your field of view.
With any of these planting styles and formations, you can choose to have all the trees the same, or mix up different types of tree with bushes and plants, creating a wonderful effect that is pleasing to the eye, but also very good for privacy in your garden.
Choosing the best trees for privacy in your garden
The main reasons people plant ‘tree walls’ are to stop people looking in, or to block an eyesore like a neighbour’s mess of a garden. Your reasons for buying privacy trees can influence the ones you buy. For example, if you just want privacy from the local nosey parkers when you are in the garden, it will probably only be in the spring and summer seasons that you’ll be bothered about it, and so you only need trees to be thick with leaves at those times.
On the other hand, if you are trying to hide some unfortunate view, or block out traffic noise from a nearby road, it’s something you’re going to need year round, and so you’d be best off with evergreen trees.
You also need to decide whether you can wait for your privacy, or if it’s an urgent matter. Some trees grow much slower than others, so if you’re in a hurry, this could limit your options a little.
Still, there are more than enough fast growing trees out there to choose from, and if you don’t mind paying for it, you can always buy mature trees. Buying trees that are easy to maintain, and are suited to the UK climate is very important, as is selecting trees that grow well when planted close together.
The best trees for privacy in your garden UK
Here’s a run down of trees that we think are the best choices for providing you with privacy in your favourite ‘outside room’. We tried to vary it as much as possible to offer something for all tastes, and hope you find what you are looking for.
With thick leaves that can grow up to 20cm long and 12cm wide, the evergreen Magnolia Grandiflora is perfect for blocking unsightly things from view, and also providing privacy year-round. And, as icing on the cake, the tree produces beautiful white flowers that have a lemony scent.
A quick growing tree (a few feet every year) and quite hardy, Leyland Cypress trees have been used as hedges far and wide for many years. They can reach up to 25 metres high, and do so rapidly, so you will have to keep an eye on their growth, but their wonderful, thick, green leaves offer a lot of peace and quiet from the outside world.
Common Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus)
Native to the UK, among many other places, the Common Hornbeam grows to somewhere in the range of 15-25 metres in height, and can be incredibly green and lush with leaves in summer. These trees can tolerate most soils, but they grow best in moderately clayish soils with a pH of 3.6 to 4.6, and are more commonly seen in the South of England where the weather isn’t as harsh as the rest of the UK.
If you like the thought of looking at yellow to golden coloured canes surrounded by lush, tropical foliage, then the golden bamboo tree might be right up your alley. Originally from China, this particular type of bamboo has branches that start low on the tree, and also thicker than usual canes which all add to the amount of privacy they can offer you when used as part of a tree wall.
Year-round thick foliage made up of shiny, dark green leaves, and growing up to 15 metres tall, Cherry Laurel trees can certainly help you to block out prying eyes from your garden. What’s more, they are incredibly hardy, being tolerant to both drought and shade, and can grow very quickly. To top it all off, you’ll get to see white and yellow flowers bloom on the tree in early summer.
Another UK native evergreen, the British Holly tree’s spiky leaves grow in abundance, offering not just privacy, but also an iconic aesthetic that looks as good in winter as it does in summer. If you want to see those famous red berries, make sure you get a female tree.
When I get asked about fast growing trees that can provide a lot of cover, I immediately think of weeping willows. These stunning looking trees can increase in size by over two metres every year and can reach a lofty 20-25 metres. The weeping willow tree is famous for its long, spiralling leaves that droop down towards the ground.