Hi I live 18 in from my neighbour. I need to block his house with tall thick fast growing trees. I’m thinking of alternating Taylor Juniper or the fastest growing arborvitae on earth with a hybrid poplar. However the first tree would be near the corner of my house. The next 8 ft only have a land width of 32 in . Help! Don pls send ans to my email.
Finding trees that grow well in the narrow area you describe will be challenging. As trees mature, they generally have a spread that is much wider than the figures you provide. (You mention both 46 and 81 cm [18 and 32 inches] – it’s not clear what an acceptable tree spread would be for your space). Have you considered planting evergreens as a hedge, as opposed to as distinct trees?
When selecting a tree or hedging plant, it is important to consider several issues, including:
- Characteristics of the site in which the tree is to be planted – e.g., soil type, and whether the area receives full sun, part shade or full shade, or a combination.
- The final height and spread of any tree you plant – i.e., what will it look like in 5 or 10 years? If you plant a tree on or near your property line it will grow both in height and width, and its branches or trunk could extend over or onto your neighbour’s property – which could create conflict.
- Planting location – a tree near the corner of your house could eventually provide shade (which could be a positive or negative) and block your view. Also, how far should a tree be planted from a house?
- Provide sufficient space for each plant. If you will be planting several trees or different tree varieties, make sure they are spread far enough apart that they won’t crowd one another as they grow.
You mention a few trees:
- Taylor juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’, also called red cedar) is easy to grow and spreads to 0.9-1.2 metres (3-4 feet). It’s a good choice for many narrow landscapes, but likely the spread is too wide for your property.
- Arborvitae (e.g., American arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis) are low-maintenance trees that don’t need pruning. They prefer sunny spots although can grow in part shade, and require soil that drains well. At maturity, they spread 3-4.5 metres (10-15 feet). Dwarf cultivars are available, these may be of interest to you – you’ll need to consider the final height these will attain, to ensure they function as privacy barriers.
- Hybrid poplars (Populus deltoides x Populus nigra) grow quite quickly and are very low-maintenance, however ultimately will have a spread of up to 9 metres (30 feet). The roots of these trees are invasive and can damage underground pipes, so should be planted 15 metres (50 feet) from a house.
When searching for tall, narrow trees, you’ll likely run across information about the Japanese holly (Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’), a narrow evergreen that grows up to 10 feet high with a spread of 1-3 feet. Unfortunately, it would be risky to grow here, as this holly grows best in zones 6-8 and the GTA is at the lower end of this zone range – not an ideal choice. A better option might be the Meserve or blue holly, Ilex x meserveae ‘Hachfee’ CASTLE SPIRE, an evergreen that grows zones 5-7 (it prefers a sheltered location in the lower zones, likely this would be the case for the GTA, which is zone 6), with a final height of 8-10 feet and spread 3-4 feet.
Below I set out some helpful resources to help you select the best plants for your property. For additional information, I’d suggest going back on to our website and searching on the words (for example) “privacy tree” – you’ll find lots of helpful suggestions in previous posts.
- Ask a Master Gardener. Privacy tree. This question addresses a similar situation to yours – a tight space between neighbouring houses, with the need for a tall, narrow tree.
- Evergreens suitable for hedging: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide. This Guide suggests hedges (including cedars) that can be used as barriers between neighbouring properties.
- Missouri Botanical Garden. Privacy screens for narrow spaces. See Hedging with plants.
- PennState Extension. Using Trees and Shrubs for Privacy and Wind Screening.
- Ask a Master Gardener. Fast-growing tall evergreen trees.
- Ask a Master Gardener. Growing an evergreen tree in the shade for privacy.
It is not possible for us to suggest the best plant choice or you, as we don’t know what the soil/sun conditions are in your garden, nor the maximum spread that is acceptable when you will be planting a tree/hedge so close to the property line. You may want to choose a few preferred plants from the resources we’ve provided, then ask someone at your local nursery for their advice on what would best suit your property. Good luck in choosing the best privacy screening plant for your property!
January 24 2022