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If your home or property is right next to a busy street (or if you don’t like how your neighbors can look right into your windows), you might consider planting a hedgerow of privacy trees.
A hedgerow is a line of trees or shrubs that can mark a property line, act in lieu of fencing, muffle sight and sound of traffic, or block unwanted attention. It can also be a good windbreak if you want to create a calmer or warmer pocket of space in your yard.

Both European and American landscapes have used hedgerows (and there are many examples of older instances as well) to divide agricultural fields or property lines for residences, and it adds a little something special instead of a big ol’ fence. Not only do hedgerows shield your home from eyes or wind or noise, but they look nice without you having to perform a lot of maintenance.

However, please note that planning and planting a hedgerow is a long-term commitment. It may take as long as eight years for your trees to become mature enough to be completely filled out and tall enough to be effective. Be sure to also plant a variety of trees instead of all one kind. Because if one tree catches a disease or a pest infestation, they can all go, and you’ll have to start all over.

So which trees are the best for planting for privacy? Well, that depends on the conditions in your yard and the trees themselves. Here are five privacy trees you can plant in your Oregon yard.

1. Wax Myrtle

If you have a difficult site to plant for because your soil is poor, this is an excellent choice. It can also thrive in sand and along stream beds and even along the Oregon coast because it is tolerant of salt spray. It might even help with habitat restoration because it’s a known nitrogen fixer—your poor soil may become richer and more welcoming to other plants. Be careful about wind, though, it’s not as tolerant of the fierce winds on the extreme coast.

Wax myrtles are broadleaf evergreens that have shrub and tree varieties. They quickly grow to 15 or 20 feet tall and wide. It does require full sun, but the tradeoff is that it is tolerant of pruning, so you can make it any shape you like.

2. Leyland Cypress

This evergreen is a fast-growing tree. Especially in their early years, Leyland cypresses can grow between 18 and 36 inches per year. Typically, they grow to 60 or 70 feet tall, so be sure that there are no overhead power lines they can interfere with. However, their height can also depend on the conditions they grow in. They tolerate a wide range of conditions except for shade (they like full to partial light), and they like moist, fertile, and well-drained soil best.

The best time to plant these trees is when they are dormant in the autumn. They are tolerant of pruning, but unlike wax myrtles, if you want them to keep a certain shape or size, you should be prepared to prune often. This evergreen is popular as both a privacy screen and windbreak and as a Christmas tree.

3. Deodar Cedar

Also known as the Himalayan cedar, this evergreen is a feast for all your senses. Deodar cedars smell wonderful: it is described as a sweet, citrusy scent that lingers and is often used in aromatherapy practices. Incense made from this wood is used in the treatment of depression. While not native to Oregon, it adapts well to the Oregon climate and has very dense branching, especially as a young tree. This is an advantage since other evergreens used as privacy screens sometimes have to mature in order to fill out the shape of the screen.

Deodar cedars prefer the sun and well-drained, somewhat dry soil. They aren’t very tolerant of high winds, though, so be aware of wind currents when planning on using this evergreen. If you’re going for a shorter hedgerow instead of a full privacy screen, this cedar has many varieties that are considered dwarfs or shrubs as well.

4. Hollies

Holly tree privacy tree to plant in Oregon yard.

If you’re looking for a living fence that has something a little extra, a holly tree or shrub can add a little extra dash of color or texture that will be the pride of your landscaping. The leaves of holly plants have a signature sharpness and spininess to them, which lends to that interesting texture.

However, handling hollies or pruning them can be a bit of a pain (pun intended), so you may also consider soft-leafed varieties if you know pets or children will be around them. The good news about pruning is that hollies don’t usually need a lot of pruning or maintenance. Hollies are also known for their bright red berries and their dense foliage, which makes a reliable wall. American holly also has the addition of small green-white flowers in the springtime—a lovely contrast to its glossy dark green leaves.

5. Japanese Cedar

This is an easy evergreen to grow, and you’ve probably seen them around. Depending on which variety you choose, it can be conical or pyramidal, and it’s a good choice if you want something that is resistant to damage caused by deer. It’s also slightly salt-tolerant, so good if your home or property is close to the coast. Like many cedars, it has bark that shreds a little as it pulls away from the trunk and is an attractive reddish color.

Make sure you have a lot of room for it—they can grow 50 to 70 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. While they do prefer rich and moist soils, they are adaptable to other soil types and resistant to many diseases. If any problems come up, it will probably be something like a leaf blight or a fungus.

If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Vernon Imel Tree Service. We can also help you plan out your future privacy screen and help you shape it as it grows.