Type of tree for privacy hedge



I live near High Park and want to plant a privacy hedge but am suffering from info overload.
The area is mostly sunny with a small pocket of partial shade.

I want a fast growing 12 foot plus height that doesn’t have spaces between plants when mature.

So what would you recommend?

Thin man planted in an alternate way
American Pillar
Junior green giant
Eastern white cedar (swamp?)
North Pole
European beech
Any one of the above will do.

Also how close to a house can you plant a tree?
Thanks Don


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about the privacy hedge that you would like to plant. In order to make specific recommendations about which trees to plant, we would need further details about the planting site  eg. soil type and drainage and exposure to wind, and also the size of the planting site eg. how wide should the trees be at maturity. Below, I have provided comments and things to consider for the trees on your list.

The evergreen trees in your list are all full sun/part shade and do best in moist well- drained soil. They are also all somewhat related.

Eastern white cedar is one of the common names for Thuja occidentalis (the species) as well as for several of the cultivars of this species.

Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis): Grows to 30-60’ tall, 10-15’ wide. It is native to the forests of eastern North America, and prefers moist well-drained soil,. It is found growing on swampy ground as well as in other areas. It has more than 300 cultivars. While this species is often used in hedges, I think that this tree might be bigger than what you are looking for.

The four trees below are all cultivars of Thuja occidentalis. Three of them are fast growing. They have varying heights at maturity. Depending on the maximum height that you are looking for, the taller trees might require more pruning to stay at that height. Your final choice might end up being mostly decided by two things : which of these trees do you like best when it comes to overall appearance eg. colour (including in the winter), branch placement (how low to the ground, density), and what is actually available for purchase, whether from a local nursery or online.

Thuja occidentalis ‘SMTOTM’ (also known as Thin Man): Grows to 15’ tall, 3-4’ wide, fast growing, holds its green colour in winter.

Thuja occidentalis ‘American Pillar’: Grows to 15-20’ tall, 3-5’ wide, fast growing.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’ (also known as North Pole): Grows to 10-15’ tall, 3-5’ wide, fast growing, very hardy, dark green colour in winter, dense habit.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Brabant’: Grows to 12-15’tall (after 10 years of growth), 4-6’wide, attractive bright green foliage, dense branching.

The tree below seems to be a fairly new one (I found very little information for it). If it is a recent release, it could be hard to find.

Thuja standishii x platica ‘Junior Giant’ : Grows to 15-20’ x 8-10’. Basically this is the same tree as Thuja standishii x platica ‘Green Giant’ in a smaller size. Thuja ‘Green Giant’ is fast growing, prefers full sun or part shade and is adaptable to many soil types. It has a rich green colour that it maintains all winter.

European beech (Fagus sylvatica) could also be used for a hedge. The species is a large tree, growing to 50-60’ in height and 35-45’ wide, and it has a slow growth rate. Like T. occidentalis, it prefers full sun to part shade and moist well-drained soil. It has a couple of cultivars that are smaller : F. sylvatica ‘Dawyck Purple’ which grows to 30-40’ tall and 10-12’ wide, and F. sylvatica ‘Red Obelisk’ which grows to 35’ tall and 12’ wide. There is also a dwarf cultivar F. sylvatica ‘Purpurea Nana’ which grows to 12’ tall and 8’ wide. Unlike the other plants in your list, F. sylvatica is a deciduous tree. However, while its leaves may change colour in the fall, depending on the cultivar, and they will dry out, many leaves will be retained on the tree until late winter, after which they will drop intermittently until they have all dropped just before bud burst in the spring. This may or may not provide the level of privacy that you are looking for from your hedge.

In order to have no spaces between your trees at maturity, they should be planted with just enough space between them to allow for their width at maturity.

Tree roots rarely cause damage to the foundation of a house. However, the width of the tree canopy at maturity should be taken into consideration when a tree is planted. There is more information about planting a tree near a house here.

Best of luck with your hedge!