I live in Surrey, BC and have an east facing backyard that we don’t use as much as I would like because I have always wished we had more privacy. Our lot is roughly 35’ long by 20’ and we look out at my neighbour’s house. I currently have no trees. I would love to plant a relatively fast growing tree to create a screen. The neighbours have a mature spruce, red Japanese maple and row of cedars. Can you make a suggestion appropriate for my zone that would be a good backyard tree?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
The exact tree that you select will depend on many factors, including what height at maturity you desire, whether you’d like it to bloom or bear fruit, foliage colour and shape, the existing sun, soil, exposure conditions, as well as your gardening zone. There are likely several options available to you in Surrey, which is zone 8b. You can find gardening zones for British Columbia by referring to this zone hardiness map:
Something to consider is a flowering tree, which will add some extra seasonal beauty, as well as privacy, to your garden. A couple ideas include a dogwood or serviceberry, if it is a single deciduous tree that you are interested in planting, as both have several seasons of interest. Dogwood varieties vary in the amount of sun they require. Serviceberry trees prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soil in full sun to partial shade. They flower in the spring.
Specific trees that grow well in your area can be found at your local nursery.
We also have several Gardening Guides available on our website pertaining to trees:
Planting A Tree
Blooming Deciduous Trees and Shrubs
Growing Trees and Shrubs Organically
Evergreens Suitable for Hedging
When you do plant your tree, it is a good practice to use mycorrhizal fungi, which can be purchased from a garden centre. To apply, sprinkle this powder-like substance over the roots of the tree when it is hovering over the planting hole (so any amount that falls off lands in the hole and aids in making contact with the roots of the tree). Also, water the tree well, especially during its first growing season and if there are seasons of drought in the next few years.
As Toronto Master Gardeners, we are most familiar with, and cater to, the gardening zones in and around the Greater Toronto Area. Therefore, you may wish to contact the Master Gardeners of BC or Vancouver to learn more about specific tree options that are optimal for Surrey. There is a link to site called Great Plant Picks that was created with your area in mind and is linked to the Master Gardeners of BC website that you can connect to here:
Questions about trees for privacy are a popular topic. Therefore, you may wish to read some of the other Q&A posts on this topic; to do so, type “privacy tree” in the search field of the Ask A Master Gardener website and several options will appear.
We hope that this information was helpful to you and wish you the best in selecting and planting a privacy tree for your garden.