Plants & Growing

The Best Fast-Growing Trees For Privacy In The UK

two types of thuja used as a garden hedge
Written by Chris Lee

If our bodies are temples and our houses are castles, then gardens must be our sanctuaries.

A garden serves so many purposes. They are a space in which we’re free to express ourselves, sewing flowers and plants of all colours and sizes. They are our children’s playgrounds, and the perfect places to host summer parties, autumn gatherings, and winter campfires. They provide us with fruit and veg to eat, and a quiet place to relax and read.  

Though many of us love showing off our gardens to friends and family, a garden should also be a secluded space just for you.

Many of us choose fences or walls to secure our personal perimeter but sometimes that doesn’t feel quite enough. Trees are one fully-natural solution to this problem, but who wants to wait ten to twenty years for your privacy to be perfected?

man poking his head over a garden fence
Be gone, Nosey Ned!

Thankfully, for those of us keen to hurry the process of privacy along, there are some speedy little trees that will satisfy even the most impatient gardener among us. The trees in this article are just the ticket to help you secure your sanctuary without having to invest years of patience.

Choosing the best fast-growing trees for privacy

When choosing the best fast-growing trees for you, it’s good to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve so you can match the perfect tree to your needs.

Some people will be wishing to line their entire garden, while others may just want to hide an ugly street view.  But whatever your goal, rest assured there will be a fast-growing tree for you.

Below we will cover several potential reasons you are considering fast-growing trees for privacy, as well as the best trees to suit your needs. 

My garden is overlooked by my neighbours house

If you live in close proximity to your neighbours, even with a six-foot fence it can still feel like you your privacy is compromised.  The best solution for this is to line the area or perimeter of your garden with trees that will screen your property and give you the seclusion you desire.

Italian Cypress

The Italian Cypress is a wonderful screening tree. While most evergreens grow in a pyramidal shape, this specimen grows straight up in a narrow column.  

A particularly resilient tree – particularly to drought – the Cypress is also extremely low maintenance. The only attention it needs is a little pruning, and all that requires is cutting the head off when it has reached the desired height.

Most importantly, this tree grows at an annual rate of 0.6-1 metres and, at full maturity, can reach up to a height of twelve metres.

Golden Bamboo

A quirky alternative to more traditional border plants, this evergreen grows at an impressive 1 – 1.5 metres a year and can grow to a height of ten metres.  

Though not technically a tree, bamboo certainly fits the bill for screening your garden.  This sturdy plant is also extremely easy to grow. The stems and lush leaves emerge green but, given enough sunlight, will turn a golden yellow as it ages, hence the name.

Golden bamboo in the garden
Solid gold!

An eyesore is ruining my view

What could be worse than an ugly block of flats popping up and ruining your once-perfect scenic view? What’s more, they get to enjoy the sight of your garden free of charge!

This situation can be a devastating blow but, rather than letting the flats win and ruin your garden and sense of privacy on a daily basis, why not choose a beautiful tree to mask those vile monstrosities?

Weeping Willow

Weep no more! The Weeping Willow is the champion of fast-growing trees.  Ideal for larger gardens, this swift growing sapling can grow a whopping 1.8 – 2.4 metres a year, reach lofty heights of twelve metres and span an astonishing ten!

You can expect to see foliage as early as February, and in April and May you will be treated to delicate yellow blossoms.

Do take care of where you plant this glorious giant, as its roots have a tendency to spread widely and can potentially cause subsidence in nearby buildings.  Plant it close enough to those awful flats and maybe your weeping willow will evict them for you!  Joking aside, this is a wonderful solution to help you regain your privacy and hide a hideous sight.

weeping willow tree in the park
Weep no more!

Tulip Poplar

Not only is this tree ideal for concealing whatever unsightly thing has stolen your view and infringed on your sanctuary, but the Tulip Poplar is also a real statement piece.

Blossoming in spring, it boasts glorious yellow and green flowers. Then, during the summer months, its lush leaves provide cooling shade. Finally, come Autumn, it’s leaves turn to glorious golden hues.

Growing at a satisfying 0.9 – 1.2 metres a year and reaching heady heights of up to 30 metres, this deliciously fragrant tree will be your saviour, obscuring any unsavoury view whilst simultaneously impressing all your green-fingered friends.

I want to block a window 

Having a street-facing window can be a real pain, and with curtain pushers walking by and having a sneaky peak in your house, it can begin to feel downright invasive.

Sure, you could get some netted curtains or a set of blinds, but these can make a room feel dark and dreary.

Thankfully, we’ve found a couple of trees that improve your view whilst simultaneously blocking the rest of the world’s.

Pleached Hornbeam

Whilst the aim of the game may be to camouflage your window, you also don’t want to completely block out the light.

A row of Pleached Hornbeam is an ideal solution, giving you excellent coverage without throwing you completely into darkness.

Growing up to half a metre annually this Hornbeam isn’t our fastest growing tree, however it really is perfect for more modest-sized gardens, and is particularly popular among city gardeners.

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

Holly trees are a favourite amongst us Brits, especially during the festive season, when their red berries attract bold robins into our gardens.

There are many types of Holly, but if it’s speed you’re after then look no further than the Nellie R. Stevens cultivar.  Growing up to a metre per year and up to an admirable height of ten metres, this tree is perfect for providing privacy to both upper and lower windows.  

And, come Christmas time, the branches can be fashioned into adorable, handmade, decorations.  What’s more, those spiky leaves act as a natural security system!

A robin perched on a holly branch
Holly smokes that’s a lot of privacy!

Things to consider

Once you have chosen the best fast-growing tree for privacy, there are a few things to consider before you start the planting process.  With the tips below you will be able to maximise your privacy without causing any undesirable effects.

Avoid blocking out yours (or your neighbour’s) light

Placement is the first thing to consider with this particular issue – the last thing you want to do is to cast yourself into shade.  When choosing your tree, consider how dense the branching is as this may influence your final decision.

Good pruning can also effectively help you maximise your privacy whilst also letting the sunshine through.  With this in mind make sure you have a good understanding of how to maintain your tree to avoid it taking over your garden and leaving you in the dark.

Neighbourly love

First and foremost, the neighbourly thing to do would certainly be to pop over and have a quick natter to explain your plans.  Most people will probably appreciate the chance to enjoy some free privacy for themselves but it’s always best to notify them to avoid future disputes.

As with the issue of light, pruning will also help prevent your tree from creeping into your neighbours garden and that will certainly keep things peaceful!

Maintenance

Proper tree maintenance is absolutely key.  If you want to see speedy results, then taking good care of your trees will ensure optimal growth so you can satisfy your need for privacy as quickly as possible.

Ready, steady, grow!

Now you know everything you need to know about the best fast-growing trees for privacy. So don your gardening gloves, race into your garden, get planting, and bask in your newfound privacy!

About the author

Chris Lee

Chris is interested in nature and the good things that happen when people are in it. He is a freelance writer, with writing published about cycling, green living, and ways to make a difference without fundamentally restructuring your lifestyle.

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