Fast-growing evergreen trees create a desirable and practical screening that shields your home from prying eyes through both the summer and winter months.
Both Leyland Cypress and the Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae are fast-growing evergreen trees with an average annual growth of more than 4 feet. They both grow to heights of more than 50 feet, with an average width of 13 feet.
There are several other fast-growing evergreen trees that we have listed below.
Choosing the right evergreen tree for your yard is not as easy as it sounds. Consult a professional to determine the most suitable tree for your property. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a useful resource for guidance on which one of our six picks is most suitable for your location.
Thuja Green Giant
Thuja Green Giant (T. plicata x T. standishii)
A fast-growing evergreen of the arborvitae variety, the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ delivers optimal privacy for your home with its thick leafy branches and extensive foliage. Its soft natural appearance is ideal for large landscapes that require a tall, fast-growing evergreen plant to provide a privacy screen within the shortest possible period. Plant small Thuja trees with 6 feet of spacing to achieve a compact screen that guarantees ultimate privacy. It can grow in virtually any soil type and has excellent drought-resistant characteristics in addition to being able to resist insect infestations. However, because of its large size, the Thuja Green Giant isn’t suitable for smaller lots.
Below are the key characteristics of the Thuja ‘Green Giant’ tree:
- The ‘Green Giant’ has an annual growth rate of between 3 to 5 feet
- It can grow as high as 40 feet, and some trees range between 50-60 feet in height.
- It has a base spread of between 12-20 feet.
- Its Pyramidal appearance and thick leafage provide a useful privacy screen.
- It is expected to thrive in hardiness zones 5 to 9.
- It can grow in both acidic and alkaline soils.
- It grows best in locations with full sunlight or partial shade, and it requires at least 4 hours of sunshine each day.
- The Thuja ‘Green Giant’ typical lifespan ranges between 40-60 years.
Leyland Cypress (xCupressocyparis Leylandii)
This rapidly growing hybrid cypress is an all-season evergreen tree that offers a near-instant privacy shield for individual homes. Little wonder it is a perennial garden center bestseller. Leyland cypress is prone to outgrow its original space on small residential landscapes quickly and to prevent the tree from becoming a source of neighborhood conflict. Homeowners can have it trimmed into tall privacy screens to fit smaller lots. The Leyland cypress is better suited to extensive gardens to grow and evolve into its natural pyramidal shape, which provides a more effective screening. Plant small Leyland cypresses within 8 feet of each other spacing to achieve a dense privacy screen. The Leyland cypress can withstand extreme trimming without damage, and it can grow on almost any kind of soil, including heavy clay and sandy soil. However, it is susceptible to drought and damage from storm winds.
Below are the key characteristics of the Leyland cypress:
- The Leyland cypress has an annual growth rate of 3-5 feet.
- It can reach 70 feet when mature, and 50–60 feet tall examples are common.
- Its width ranges between 15-25 feet when fully matured.
- It is expected to thrive in hardiness zones 6–10.
- It can grow in both acidic and alkaline soils.
- Leyland cypresses require at least 6 hours of sunshine daily.
- Leyland cypresses have an average lifespan of 20-25 years.
Norway Spruce (Picea Abies)
Beloved for its beauty and fast growth, the Norway Spruce is the fastest-growing among the spruces. You can find America’s favorite evergreen tree growing on large landscapes throughout the United States. Although the Norway Spruce can grow very large for standard residential lots, its dense branching habit makes it an effective privacy barrier hiding your home from nosy neighbors and passersby. Plant small Norway Spruce trees 18 feet apart to create a good privacy screen.
The Norway spruce can grow in virtually any soil type, and it has a remarkable level of drought tolerance.
Below are the key characteristics of the Norway Spruce:
- The Norway Spruce has an average annual growth rate of up to 3 feet.
- Its mature height is 60 feet, and typical sizes range between 40–60 feet tall.
- It has a width of between 25–30 feet when mature.
- It thrives in hardiness zones 3–7.
- It grows best in sunny conditions, and it needs at least 6 hours of daily sunlight.
- The Norway Spruce has an exceptionally long lifespan. Some examples have been known to survive for almost a thousand years.
Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Italian cypress is the Ideal privacy tree for small lots. The fast-growing tall and slim tree requires roughly the same space as a wooden fence, but it is an excellent choice for privacy screens in tight areas. Italian cypresses have thick foliage that doesn’t require pruning. And when planted close together, It quickly creates a thick privacy barrier concealing your yard from your neighbor’s view within a couple of years. You can grow Italian cypresses 2 to 3 feet apart to create a dense privacy shield. And in tiny lots, it can replace a conventional privacy fence. Italian cypresses can thrive in most soils, including well-drained soils. It is drought-resistant and grows well in hot arid climates with little rainfall.
Below are the key characteristics of the Italian cypress:
- The Italian cypress has an average annual growth rate of up to 3 feet.
- It can reach a mature height of 40 to 60 feet.
- It has a width of between 4-5 feet.
- It grows in hardiness zones 8 to 10.
- Italian cypress requires full sunshine.
- The Italian cypress has a lifespan of between 50-150 years.
Taylor Junipers (Juniperus virginiana)
A straight and tall variety of the Eastern Red Cedar, the fast-growing Taylor Juniper is an excellent choice for providing screening in small areas where fast growth is paramount. Vertical growing, yet endowed with large and leafy branches that are easily pruned to your desired tastes. The unique voluminous foliage of the Taylor Juniper tree ensures a thick year-round shield of privacy blocking the neighbor’s view of your backyard pool. Plant small Taylor Juniper trees 3 feet apart to create an incredibly compact privacy screen on smaller properties that don’t have enough space for larger trees. Taylor Juniper tree is drought tolerant and can grow on most soil types with good air circulation.
Below are the key characteristics of the Taylor Juniper:
- The Taylor Juniper has an average annual growth rate of around 3 feet.
- It can grow as high as 30 feet, and its typical height ranges from 15-20 feet.
- It has a narrow width of between 3 to 5 feet.
- It is expected to thrive in hardiness zones 3 through 9.
Grows best in locations with full sunlight.
- Taylor Juniper trees have an average lifespan of 20 years.
Arizona Cypress (Cupressusarizonica)
Arizona cypress is an excellent choice for screening compared to other fast-growing evergreens. The Southwestern native species can be customized into a thick, fast-growing privacy hedge or left to grow into a broad pyramidal evergreen tree with strong voluminous branches that do an excellent job of screening out the outside world. To create a useful screen, plant the Arizona cypress 7 feet apart. It can grow in well-drained and sandy soils. It is relatively drought-resistant and requires little water once the roots are established, making it ideal for semi-arid climates.
Below are the key characteristics of the Arizona cypress:
- Arizona cypress averages 3 feet of annual growth.
- Arizona cypress can grow more than 20 feet tall
- It has a width of 15-20 feet.
- Its Pyramidal appearance and thick leafage provide a useful lower-level privacy screen.
- It is expected to thrive in hardiness zones 7 to 9.
Grows best in locations with full sunlight.
- The Arizona cypress’s typical lifespan ranges between 20-30 years.
The Thuja Green Giant is our top pick for its superior screening and fast-growing capabilities. Few evergreen trees can compete with the Green Giant in terms of growth rate, leaf density, and coverage area. A row of close-growing Thuja ‘Green Giants’ fills into your yard space to form a robust and complete privacy barrier that effectively blocks the outside world. Thuja Green Giant is hardier than most privacy evergreens, and it is more disease and pest-tolerant than the similarly sized Leyland cypress.
Coming in at a close second place is the Leyland cypress. Though our winning pick and the Leyland cypress share several similar characteristics, for us, the difference is in the hardiness. Although the Leyland cypress dense leafage and branching offers excellent screening and protection, it is susceptible to diseases and drought damage which becomes a serious problem when it comes to providing long-term privacy.
The Norway Spruce is America’s very own evergreen tree. Much loved for its fast-growing character and heavy branches providing unparalleled privacy, especially on large lots, the Norway Spruce is undoubtedly our pick for the most popular evergreen tree.
Best for Screening
The Leyland Cypress is the all-time winner when it comes to providing the best screening. Statuesque-looking with thick sagging branches bursting with dense foliage, our pick for best screening does an excellent job at blocking even the most intrusive neighbor.
Not to forget the Douglas Fir with its impressive and classic spire-shaped appearance that is perfect for blocking out nosy neighbors and views. An exceptionally fast-growing perennial favorite, Douglas Fir isn’t all about providing beneficial screening; you can also play it to create a picturesque backdrop for your property.
Tall, elegant, and striking. The Italian cypress is our most stylish evergreen privacy tree pick. Fast-growing slender Italian cypresses are an excellent choice for privacy hedging along driveways or around pools.