Small Trees For Privacy


I wonder if anyone can provide me with some advise on some small trees.

I am looking to purchase two to three trees to provide privacy from a neighbours upstairs window. There is no problem with the neighbours, they are happy for me to do this.

We have measured up to the height of their window and it is 5.5M so ideally I am looking for trees which would grow to around this height, or a little more.

Initially I was looking at evergreen trees which would provide privacy in winter. Looking on various sites I would also consider decidious trees. However I would like the form to be quite rounded but importantly dense so you cannot easily see through. Also it would be great if the canapoy could start at the height of the fence. I appreciate you would need to prune as appropriate. Additionally, I would not want a slow growing tree and having to wait considerable years for the tree to grow.

My soil is classed as 7 neutral and in parts has a little clay.The position is relativly sheltered from strong winds.

I am really new to gardening as to confess a little confused when looking at possible trees on websites. They show they often in flower or in Autumn and it is not easy to appreciate what they may be like all year round amd how dense they are.

Some I have come across are:

  • Cratagus Flore Plenus
  • Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' (Upright Hornbeam Tree)
  • Magnolia grandiflora
  • Sorbus aria (Whitebeam) 'Lutescens'
  • Pyrus Salicifolio
  • Ligustrum Lucidum (Chinese Privet)

I may be completely wrong with the above options. Any advise and guidance on these or potential others would be appreciated.

Thank you...Adam


  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,178

    Adam, How big is your garden? You do realise trees put out roots a long way underground and can undermine walls etc, also trees do not grow to a set height then stop they also spread as well as grow up. They will also suck your garden dry of water so nothing much will grow in their area. If we are talking a large field and not a normal sized garden then it is possible.
    How much privacy are we talking about and could it be done in a much easier way say a canopy or summer house? A slightly raised fence near the house?
    Right, Carpinus or Hornbeam can grow to 80 feet high and 70 feet spread, they need sun well drained soil and spread winged seeds all over.
    Crataegus or Hawthorn are the hedge rows you see on country roads, it can grow 25 feet high and spread even more. White flowers in may loses its leaves in Autumn.
    Magnolia a lovely shrub slow growing and often used on walls can grow to in time to 15 feet and spread the same, frost can damage the early blooms.
    Sorbus grow to 20 feet with a spread of 15 feet produce white flowers in spring and berries in Autumn.
    Ligustrum is for hedging and can grow to 6-10 feet high with 6 feet spread.
    Pyrus is a pear tree and can be contained with pruning it is deciduous, (loses its leaves in winter but you will get fruit in time.
    I am not trying to rain on your parade but a tree is for life and if not contained can cause damage or problems with shade in a neighbours garden, they do move on and problems do arise with new neighbours. That is the reason I ask apart from most normal gardens will only have room for one or two trees, hedges need a lot of care and maintenance and roots from time to time need to be cropped if near property.
    Hope this will help.


  • Thank you for your reply Frank.

    The garden is around 1/2 an acre and there were eight very large leylandi trees in this area. They were taking all of the moisture from the ground and were considerably higher than both of our properties, and blocking light much light. They were also becoming diseased.

    Everyone wanted these removed and replaced. I have simply agreed to replace with two much smaller trees which would provide privacy from our bungalow looking up to our neighbours window, and then looking down at us.

    There is already a fence and wall to around 2 1/2 metres. It was just that extra element of privacy from one upstair window that was needed. What were were hoping is for a tree to assist with this. There are no other trees in the garden now, so it would add some height in one area. We may just opt for one tree only.

    I hope the above assists. If you can suggest or recommend anything, it would be apprecaited.

    Kind regards...Adam.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,178

    Hello Adam I have the picture now and see you would want a rounded tree with some colour and blossom, not too fussy about its position.
    Malus or crab apple are low growing well rounded with a little judicious pruning and come in many leaf colours. Many come well grown in containers and vary in growth so as I am not up with some of the more modern names it would be best to google Malus.
    Prunus flowering cherry come in many colours have rounded tops and some are quite low growing.
    Acer or Maple come in small medium and large so you would need check that out with the nursery.
    Or my choice was a small Conifer, I too live in a bungalow but not overlooked.
    Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana Lanei a golden fir and slow growing which can be topped trimmed and kept in shape as required, it glows in sunlight, my other is a dark green Conifer Chamaecyparis Green pillar which sets of the gold beautifully
    Those are some I have grown and know they do root well and creep so near a wall you may need to put down a couple of slabs to divert the roots, though it will take years for them to cause damage. I dug down a few years ago and cropped the roots on the wall side it has worked.
    Check out the container grown trees and ask questions about size and pruning, they will have them at various stages of growth obviously the bigger the more they cost, the nursery will have re-potted them over several years, the smaller ones will do the job in time, you have the choice.
    good luck.


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    Is there an arboretum near you where you can go and see some candidates growing?

    If you plant a tree that grows higher than their window, they might not be too happy.

    Yew is quite fast-growing.  Holly is slow-growing. Privet is fast-growing, evergreen and has blossom which attracts butterflies.

  • Abby2Abby2 Posts: 101

    Have you considered a raised hedge?  Expensive but you wouldn't lose any space underneath and would provide a fairly instant screen.

    I have a similar problem with overlooking upstairs windows and have planted a Sorbus as they do have that rounded, dense shape.  It's a lovely tree but rather slow growing compared to the Prunus I have also put in.  You could also shape a Cherry laurel into a standard (as someone on here told me!)  which I am in the process of doing to create some evergreen privacy along with my deciduous trees.


  • I agree with the previous comment, a raised hedge of pleached trees would be ideal. They're not cheap though but add instant height and are very narrow, but need yearly pruning to keep them in check.



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