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9 Privacy Trees to Grow in Maryland (Includes Hedging Trees)


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Whether you want to shield your home from the eye-line of your neighbors or shield yourself from an unsightly view across the border of your property, privacy trees in Maryland are a sought-after tool for creating dense hedging that blocks sight, wind, and sound from your landscape.

It is important to research thoroughly, as each privacy tree will come with certain benefits and drawbacks, such as the leyland cypress which makes a dense and beautiful hedge plant, but will require time-consuming maintenance to keep short and shapely.

No matter where you live, you will find neat and effective privacy trees for your Maryland landscape, regardless of your USDA growing zone in MD or soil type.

9 Effective Trees For Privacy On Your MD Property

1. American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

american arborvitae
Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

Those seeking an adaptable, easy-growing, and low-maintenance privacy tree need look no further than the American arborvitae. This native evergreen grows moderately tall and very narrow, and its tapered and pyramidal form with densely growing foliage makes a perfect screen for privacy, windbreaks, and hedging.

It does not need to be pruned or sheared in order to maintain its neat and uniform shape, and its evergreen leaves provide year-round interest. Because it is native to MD it will grow easily in most regions of the state, with the exception of some areas along the coast and Maryland inlets that fall under growing zone 8.

These trees can thrive in either sandy, loamy, or clay soils, but prefers rich, moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH. Plant them in an area with full unfiltered sunlight. Water frequently for the first year, and after the first year only water during periods of drought.

Other Common Names: Eastern Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar, Arborvitae, New Brunswick Cedar

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 25-40 feet tall, with a 5-10 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Cones ripen in the Fall

2. American Hornbeam (Carpinus Caroliniana)

american hornbeam
Image by Katja Schultz via Flickr

This next tree is a native with year-round appeal, most notable for its strong wood and blue-grey bark that resembles muscle tissue, hence its nickname ‘musclewood’. It is also exceptionally resistant to most types of pests and diseases, a great benefit for potential growers.

While it is often grown as an ornamental, the American hornbeam can also be planted as a hedge for privacy, but it will require a degree of maintenance. Hornbeams will need to be pruned into shape to make an appropriate formal hedge and to be pruned regularly to maintain that shape. For this reason, it may not be ideal if you need to plant many trees for your privacy screen.

These trees can grow in full or partial shade, but according to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture, when planted in loamy, moist, acidic soil with access to full sunlight it is more likely to grow dense and uniform, perfect for hedging and privacy.

Other Common Names: Musclewood, Ironwood, Blue Beech, Water Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Mid Spring to early Summer

3. Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis x leylandii)

Leyland cypress
Image by Roger Eavis via Flickr

The leyland cypress is lauded for its ability to quickly establish evergreen hedges or living fences for privacy. Its branches grow thick, dense, and neat, and in fact, it is one of the conifers most commonly used for privacy.

Unfortunately, the leyland cypress is also one of the fastest-growing conifers that can reach great heights in a matter of years. For this reason, this cypress hybrid has also featured at the heart of many neighborhood disputes, particularly when the leyland hedges begin blocking out the sun on neighboring properties.

To avoid any issues regarding the height of your hedges, these cypresses must be pruned thoroughly and consistently when the trees are still young.

The leyland cypress is an adaptable tree that can thrive in clay, sand, and loam as well as acidic and alkaline soil. But most of all, these species requires full sun and well-draining soil to thrive as a privacy hedge.

Other Common Names: Leylandii

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

4. Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

Norway spruce
Image by Phil and Jo Schiffbauer via Flickr

Most often used as a classic-style Christmas tree, this ornamental spruce is both a valuable and iconic commercial tree and a useful species for landscape gardening. It can be planted individually as an accent or specimen, as well as in groups as a windbreak and privacy screen.

It is a tall, dense tree that can easily block out wind and potential nosey neighbors, and though its shape may be a little more rugged compared to neater privacy trees like the American arborvitae, it still has a naturally beautiful and graceful shape that will require little-to-no pruning to maintain.

The Norway spruce is an easy-going, adaptable tree that will do well in many climates, environments, and soil types. However, it is not drought tolerant and will need a spot with rich, moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH and access to plenty of sunlight. Provide these things and you will have a healthy spruce hedge in no time.

Other Common Names: German Spruce, Yugoslavian Sprucetulip

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 feet tall, with a 25-35 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

5. Cryptomeria Radicans (Cryptomeria japonica)

Cryptomeria radicans
Image via Nature Hills

When you are choosing a privacy screen for your property, there is a lot to get right. You want a tall and dense tree that blocks out sight and sound, that grows and establishes itself quickly, all while making a fitting and even beautiful addition to your landscape. Thankfully, the graceful emerald-green cryptomeria radicans provides all of this, making it an ideal choice for a privacy tree.

These lovely evergreens remain elegant throughout the year, as well as being very versatile, able to grow in various conditions as well as being drought tolerant, and exceptionally resistant to disease. It also grows in a narrow, pyramidal shape that provides thick and neat hedging when grown together.

You can plant your cryptomeria radicans in a variety of soil conditions, as long as it is moist and well-draining in an area with full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Japanese Cedar, Sugi

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-45 feet tall, with a spread of 15-20 feet

Flowering Season: Fall

6. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

American holly
Image by Katja Schulz via Flickr

Another Christmas favorite, the American holly is easily recognizable for its bright, jagged green leaves and small red berries.

Because of its shrubby appearance, with thick branches growing from the bottom of the trunk to the top, and its evergreen foliage, this holly tree can make a very effective privacy hedge. It can even be used to fill in the gaps of larger planted trees, as it thrives as an understory tree.

Regardless American holly is best grown in groups, as male plants are needed to pollinate female trees in order to produce the red and orange berries which are a helpful food source for local wildlife. Each tree should be planted at least 5 feet apart to give them space to grow.

These holly trees prefer moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH, in a location with full sun or partial shade. They can grow in a range of soil types, excluding dense and packed soil with poor drainage.

Other Common Names: Common Holly, Yule Holly, White Holly, Christmas Holly

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

7. Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

blue spruce
Image by Thomas Quine via Flickr

Spruce trees are great if you want something different for your privacy hedge, look no further than the blue spruce. These pyramidal trees will make a stark statement on your property, with their striking form, and crisp needles that are 95% blue! A truly unique landscaping option.

Blue spruces provide a number of uses for landscape gardening. They can be planted as ornamental specimen trees in your backyard, or set up to form strong windbreaks, and of course, to establish privacy screens along your property.

Blue spruce should be planted in moist, well-draining soil in full sun, but it has a high tolerance for different soil types and pH levels. The tree also becomes more drought-tolerant as it matures, according to the NC State Extension for Gardeners.

If you are considering blue spruce, check your growing zones. The blue spruce thrives in zones 2-7, but will struggle along the Atlantic coast or in the MD inlets.

Other Common Names: White Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Green Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 75-100 feet tall, with a 25-30 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

8. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

eastern white pine
Image by James St. John via Flickr

While this enormous evergreen tree is not the most conventional choice for privacy screening, it can make an appropriate and affordable hedge for MD gardeners. The eastern white pine has a soft, rounded growing habit that will look natural and graceful in your landscape and effectively block out sights and sounds.

If you are considering the eastern white pine for privacy, size will be the most important factor. They can grow well over 80 feet and span a considerable width and will need to be pruned consistently to control their height and shape.

You’ll also need to leave plenty of space between trees so they can grow. Keep in mind that they can also be messy and are very susceptible to pests and disease. All in all, it is a fairly high-maintenance privacy tree.

Plant your eastern white pine in moist, acidic, well-draining soil in a location with at least four hours of sunlight per day.

Other Common Names: Northern White Pine, Soft Pine, North American White Pine, White Pine, Weymouth Pine

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

9. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

eastern hemlock
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Another MD native, the long-lived eastern hemlock can grow and thrive in most regions of the state. These fine pyramidal evergreens, with their textured and double-toned needles and red-brown bark, make quality plants for landscape gardening wherever they are grown.

While they are also used as a foundation planting, eastern hemlocks are more often than not used as hedging as privacy screens, windbreaks, and to block out noise. Certain shrubby cultivars, such as the pendula and sargentii, are especially effective. Their sturdy branches will grow dense together and form an effective cover for your property.

Eastern hemlock will benefit from moist, loamy, well-draining soil with an acidic pH in a location with full or partial shade. Though they are hardy and adaptable natives, their biggest drawback is the invasive woolly adelgid, which can destroy all of your trees and is very difficult to control. They are also easily damaged by browsing white-tailed deer.

Other Common Names: Canadian Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock-Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Block Out Noise & Neighbors With These Excellent Privacy Trees

When choosing privacy trees and hedging for your property, be aware that some trees will be more appropriate for the MD landscape.

For example, Maryland natives like the American arborvitae and Eastern Hemlock are better options because they require little maintenance and support local flora and fauna. In contrast, invasive species such as bamboo and Japanese barberry are excellent as privacy screens but degrade local wildlife and disrupt soil chemistry.

Otherwise, there are plenty of options for attractive and adaptable privacy trees in Maryland that you can grow as mixed or uniform privacy screens for your home and property.

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