Living Privacy Screen


Hello! I live in Toronto and need help finding the right trees to create a living privacy wall in my backyard. We would like the trees to be as fast growing as possible and to cover the entire fence line from corner to corner (40 ft). The trees need to provide coverage all year and at planting be as tall as possible. 15 to 20 ft in height would be ideal at planting and the trees need to grow up to 30 – 40 ft. at maturity. Our yard is not very deep so as narrow as possible is needed. We get approximately 4 to 5 hrs of direct sun in the Spring and Summer and have irrigation in place. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions! Thank you.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. This is a large hedge! The first decision to be made is whether it should be deciduous or evergreen, Since you are looking for year round privacy, the only deciduous trees to be considered are marcescent, meaning that they retain their leaves for longer than most deciduous trees that shed their leaves in the autumn. The leaves that marcescent trees retain are dead, dried out and brittle. They are retained usually until late winter after which they drop intermittently, in preparation for new leaves to form in the spring. There are only a few marcescent trees that meet your height, width and light requirements (although their growth rates might be slower than what you are looking for). They include: Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’ (Upright English Oak), Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Purple’ (Dawyck Purple Leaved European Beech) and Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ (Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam). For further information about these trees, please see this link to a response by the Toronto Master Gardeners to a question that is very similar to yours :

Here is a link to further information about marcescent trees :


You could also consider evergreen trees which retain their needles year round. Here are some options to consider :

Thuja plicata x Thuja standishii (Thuja Green Giant) : Height 40-60’. Width 12-18’. Full sun-part shade. Moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Dark green foliage. Grows 3-4’ each year.

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar) : Height 30-50’. Width 8-10’. Full sun-part shade. Deep, moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Rich green foliage. Grows up to 2’ each year. Aromatic.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Hetz’ Wintergreen’ ( Hetz’ Wintergreen Eastern arborvitae) : Height 20-30’. Width 5-10’.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’ (Nigra Eastern arborvitae) : Height 25-30’. Width 5-8’.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis’ ( Pyramidalis Eastern arborvitae) : Height 20-30’. Width 5-8’.

All above are full sun-part shade, moist well-drained soil, green – dark green foliage, grow up to 2’ each year.

The size of the trees at the time of planting will depend on where you purchase them. Also, it is important to have full knowledge of your growing conditions before choosing your trees, for example soil type and pH and drainage, exposure to wind especially in the winter. Having an arborist visit your garden to confirm the conditions and provide assistance to choose your trees might be a worthwhile investment. If needed the website for Landscape Ontario has lists and contact information for retail garden centres and arborists. Here is the link :

Best of luck with your hedge !

December 22,2020