Many people treat their gardens as a quiet refuge; a place to relax away from the stresses of our busy modern lives.
Gardens are meant to be places you feel safe and calm, refreshed and renewed after spending some time in.
Privacy is vital for this feeling of peace, and the best way to achieve this is by planting privacy trees around the perimeter of your property. Georgia is a varied state; with warm and steamy coastal areas and mild winters.
The mountainous northern region has a different climate to the south, so where ever you are in the state, be sure to check the hardiness map of Georgia to ensure you pick a suitable tree for your area.
9 Excellent Privacy Trees to Grow in Georgia
The Eastern Red Cedar features a dense pyramidal form, making it perfect for medium to large landscapes where a privacy screen is needed. It can take on a more columnar shape in warmer areas. The leaves are evergreen, scale-like and provide a nesting site for mockingbirds, and warblers, amongst others.
Eastern Red Cedars can tolerate salt, wind, and heat, and grow best in open areas. Small bluish-green/gray fruit is produced that attracts cedar waxwings. It’ll grow best in moist, rich well-drained soils and can withstand occasional flooding and some drought.
Other Common Names: Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper
Growing Zones: 2-9
Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 8-20 ft wide
Flowering Season: Late winter/ early spring
2. Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
The Japanese Cedar is a fast-growing evergreen tree with attractive blue-green summer foliage and greenish/bronze winter leaves.
It features a relaxed pyramidal shape and can be planted en masse to block out unwanted sights, sounds and ambient noise. The branching is tiered, horizontal, and somewhat pendulous at the tips. The foliage produces a pleasant fragrance and is soft to the touch
It’s native to forested parts of Japan and China where it grows to great heights as a single-trunked tree. Fruiting cones 1” in diameter grace the branch tips. The Japanese Cedar is best grown in moist, acidic, well-drained soils.
Other Common Names: Sugi
Growing Zones: 6-9
Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide
Flowering Season: February – March
3. Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata)
The Giant Arborvitae is a coniferous evergreen tree with a pyramidal shape and a buttressed base on older trees. The branches are horizontal and drooping, but upturned at the ends (most prominently on the lower branches).
The opposite leaves are scale-like, and dark green with white markings on the underside. The cones are elliptical and small, measuring only 12mm long.
The Giant Arborvitae prefers moist well-drained rich soils. It can easily be trained into a hedge.
Other Common Names: Western Red Cedar, Giant Western Arborvitae
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide
Flowering Season: March – April
The Leyland Cypress is an extremely popular evergreen tree throughout the United States, where it’s commonly planted and trained as a hedge. Its success is down to its fast growth rate, slender pyramidal shape, and the fact that it easily adapts to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.
It’s commonly planted as a barrier to noise, and unsightly views on property boundaries. Left unpruned, it’ll take on a rounded or pyramidal shape.
The Leyland Cypress retains a vibrant shade of green throughout the whole year, which has added to its success, alongside the fact that it’s a sterile hybrid, meaning it won’t self-seed.
The cones are small and globular, made up of 8 scales. The Leyland Cypress is perhaps the most popular of all cypresses, but there are plenty of other varieties that are suited to GA.
Other Common Names: Leylandii
Growing Zones: 6-10
Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide
Flowering Season: N/A
5. Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis)
The Hollywood Juniper is a coniferous evergreen with an upright, gnarled and twisted growth habit, which provides architectural delight to any landscape. It works well not only as a privacy screen, but as a wind or noise break, or as a specimen tree. The foliage is a deep dark hue of green.
The Hollywood Juniper is cold, wind, drought, and salt tolerant, meaning it’s an incredibly hardy and resistant tree. It’s not fussy about soil type, provided it isn’t kept constantly wet and has good drainage. It’s also drought tolerant and is well suited for coastal areas.
Other Common Names: California Juniper, California White Cedar, Desert White Cedar
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 ft tall and 7-10 ft wide
Flowering Season: N/A
The Deodar Cedar is native to the Himalayas and is an eternally visually appealing Cedar, with its graceful drooping branching habits. It has a broadly pyramidal shape, lending it great architectural value.
According to the University of Redlands, it can easily be identified by its flat mature crown and drooping branches. The needles are greenish/blue and make a gentle screen against unwanted sights and noise.
They measure 1-2” long, are borne in clusters and have a sharp tip and are shed in the spring as the new years growth appears. The cones are oval shaped, 3-6” long and have a brownish/red hue.
Whilst the Deodar Cedar prefers moist soil, it does have some drought tolerance.
Other Common Names: Himalayan Cedar
Growing Zones: 7-9
Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: October – November
The American Holly is a pyramidal evergreen tree with dark green leaves with spines on the tips. It ranges in size greatly, depending on where it is in its range.
New growth in the spring displaces the previous years. Pollinated female trees produce bright red berries which remain until the winter or until discovered by the numerous types of birds which feast on them.
American Holly is slow-growing, so may not be the best choice if you need privacy quickly. However, the patient will be rewarded with a beautiful, multi-functional privacy tree. American Holly grows best in moist, well-draining acidic soil.
Other Common Names: American Holly
Growing Zones: 5-10
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide
Flowering Season: March – June
The Little Gem Magnolia is popular with those with smaller yards looking for flowering privacy screens. It grows in an upright shape and has elliptical leaves that are dark and glossy on the upper side and russet-brown underneath.
The Little Gem Magnolia flowers earlier than most other Magnolia varieties, sometimes as early as two years. The flowers are white and fragrant, and measure 4” across.
Cone-shaped fruit follow, with red coated seeds on the inside. The Little Gem Magnolia will grow in moist, acidic, loamy, clay, sandy well-drained soils. It can tolerate some flooding as well as some drought.
Other Common Names: Dwarf Magnolia
Growing Zones: 7-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 7-10 ft wide
Flowering Season: Mid-spring – summer
The Spartan Juniper is a fast-growing evergreen tree with a densely branched columnar shape, making it suited for formal gardens as well as for privacy, as a windbreak or an accent. Left naturally, it forms a pleasing symmetrical pyramidal shape, meaning it rarely needs to be pruned, although can be used for topiary or hedging.
The Spartan Juniper is hardy, tolerating heat, cold and drought well. Their small size makes them ideal for small-sized windbreaks or for any of the other uses mentioned above.
Other Common Names: Spartan Plant
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 3-5 ft wide
Flowering Season: N/A
Grow Your Own Serene Garden Getaway
Privacy trees are important when you want to relax and recharge in your garden away from peering eyes. Growing your own privacy tree is the most ecologically friendly way to provide your self with the garden retreat you crave.
Not only will you save money, but they will provide habitat and perhaps food for local wildlife and sequester atmospheric carbon into the ground. Make sure whatever tree you choose is suited to your particular area of GA for the best chances of success.
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Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.