General gardening topics

10 Stunning trees to screen out neighbours and provide much-needed colour

Last updated on March 20th, 2022

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If you have a large property you are no doubt in need of something you can use to screen out your neighbouring homes and provide a bit of stunning backdrop. There are plenty of ways that you can create privacy screens or hedges using shrubs and trees. For larger gardens, trees can make secure privacy screens, especially if they come with spikes or dense foliage. Moreover, there are many small trees that offer stunning visual displays and a range of colours beyond just the variety of greens you might get with most hedges. That being said, the best trees to use as screening are listed below. You can choose one for a monochrome design or mix and match to add a bit more flourish to your home.

1. Magnolia grandiflora

This showy hardy tree is one that spreads quite effectively and if not pruned it will reach heights and spreads of up to 8 meters so it's something you want to plant in an area that can support a large tree.

This showy hardy tree is one that spreads quite effectively and if not pruned it will reach heights and spreads of up to 8 metres, so it’s something you want to plant in an area that can support a large tree. It produces stunning white flowers between May and June and thrives best with full sun or partial shade, preferring a more sheltered position. It is a flowering tree that is very fragrant and showy and gives off a great deal of winter interest because it is one of the very few evergreen trees available. Moreover, it’s tolerant of air pollution which makes it an ideal tree to plant along a roadside, especially as a large privacy screen for the outline of your property.

It’s known for the dark green leaves and the very fragrant flowers that look absolutely stunning. The tree produces a rounded crown and the white flowers give way to cone-like clusters that eventually manifest in the form of fruit. If you’re looking for an evergreen tree, this is well worth considering for all year round screening.

Magnolia grandiflora
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2. Malus ‘Profusion’ – Crab Apple Tree

Crab apples are trees that have gained popularity because of the abundance of rich flowers early in the season. It's an upright deciduous tree and when it grows it takes on a rounded, spreading shape that eventually produces an onslaught of blooms which they are famous for.

Crab apples are trees that have gained popularity because of the abundance of rich flowers early in the season. They are upright deciduous trees and when they grow, they take on a rounded, spreading shape and eventually produce an onslaught of the flowers which they are famous for.

The blooms start out as red buds and then as the fragrance around them increases they open to rose-pink flowers in small clusters by the middle of spring. Eventually, they produce blood-red fruits that are tiny, approximately 1.5cm in size by the autumn, which adds another showy feature. You can actually harvest these fruits and use them for jams or jellies. You will have to fight off the local birds though because they love to sit in these trees eat the fruit and remain all winter long.

In terms of foliage don’t think that the flowers are the only thing you have to look forward to. The foliage starts out as a reddish-purple during the spring and as the growing season commences it changes to a bronze-green shade, eventually assuming amber, orange, red and yellow tones come autumn. Most people enjoy crab apples because of the fruit they can pick, but also because it gives food for the wildlife in your area all season long. It’s also very disease-resistant so there is next to no work that you need to do to maintain this tree.

Plant it as part of your privacy screen because it makes a good low-maintenance choice with minimal pruning. 

Malus 'Profusion'
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3. Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ – Silver Birch

Birch trees are award-winning and the Silver Birch even more so for the crisp, white bark that wraps around all of the branches and the trunk and starts to peel off revealing the pale orange colours below. This type of plant offers stunning contrast throughout the year because the leaves begin with rich green and eventually convert to a vibrant golden yellow before they fall off. No matter what time of year you take a look at your silver birch it will absolutely elicit oohs and aahs.

Birch trees are award-winning, and the Silver Birch even more so, because of the crisp white bark that wraps around all of the branches and the trunk which eventually starts to peel off revealing the pale orange colours below. This type of tree offers stunning contrast throughout the year because the leaves begin with rich green and eventually convert to a vibrant golden yellow before they fall off.

In spring you’ll notice small brown flowers appearing in the large catkins that are approximately 15cm in size. The tree itself can span between 9 and 15 metres tall, and reach about 10m wide near the top crown once fully established, however, we are talking 15-20 years. Silver Birches grow very quickly and are medium-sized deciduous trees. It produces an oval crown on top with branches that ascend, making it a stunning specimen piece no matter the season, but of course, it can be combined with other trees on this list to create additional privacy throughout the spring and summer. 

Ideally, this tree requires full sun or partial shade and will grow in all manner of soil as long as it’s well-drained. You don’t need to prune it, but if you choose to, you can prune when the plant is dormant to control the size and shape. Aside from that it’s incredibly low-maintenance and requires very little from you.

Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii'
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4. Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’

You can find this in the form of a deciduous or an evergreen tree meaning that its semi-evergreen depending on the location with very simple leaves and clusters of flowers that are white or pink.

You can find this in the form of a deciduous or an evergreen tree, meaning that it’s semi-evergreen depending on the location, with very simple leaves and clusters of flowers that are white or pink. The flowers are produced in the spring and by summer they result in stunning red, black or purple berries that are sure to add colour variety to your garden. The semi-evergreen foliage is very bushy and at full maturity can reach a height up to 8 metres with a spread of 8 metres, however, you can control this and keep it to around 4 metres in height and spread if necessary.

It grows best in drier locations with well-drained soil and exposure to full sunlight. It’s quite drought-resistant and requires very low maintenance once it’s fully established, which makes it great for any slopes or along the banks of your garden. It will thrive in all manner of soils be it acidic, alkaline, neutral, clay, chalky, sand, loam-based sand, or loam-based. The berries produced will no doubt attract birds to your garden but the thickness of the tree itself will keep out any prying eyes or larger garden visitors. This is considered a large bush rather than a tree, however, it still makes an excellent screen with all year round interest.

Cotoneaster 'Cornubia'
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5. Phyllostachys nigra – Black Bamboo

Black bamboo is a very exotic form of bamboo that as an Asian look to your garden. The bamboo is very fast growing and it produces upright stems just like any other bamboo.

Black bamboo is a very exotic form of bamboo that adds an Asian look to your garden. The bamboo is very fast growing and it produces upright stems, just like any other bamboo. During its second season of growth, those upright stems will convert in colour to black which stands out in a stunning contrast to the otherwise green foliage. This bamboo uses underground runners to spread very quickly and it can be rather invasive if you don’t contain it. Because of its quick-spreading habit, it makes an affordable way to create a privacy screen because you need only plant a few black bamboo plants and then after a few seasons your hedge or privacy screen will have naturally thickened.

Animals or anyone else trying to sneak in between will have a hard time squeezing their way through the dense upright stems. Black bamboo requires partial to full sun and needs regular watering so that the soil remains moist. This evergreen bamboo, if left unpruned, will produce thick clumps of foliage that can reach between 3 and 4 metres in height. Black bamboo is also excellent for growing in containers.

Phyllostachys nigra
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6. Carpinus Betulus – Hornbeam Tree

This common Hornbeam tree will reach a height between 10 and 12 metres and a spread between 7 and 10 metres, so it is a slightly larger tree but nevertheless a stunning way to screen out your neighbours and enjoy a colourful array of privacy. This tree flowers in March and when that time comes you can enjoy yellow or green blooms depending on the male or female variety you have planted.

This tree is very easy to grow if you have well-drained soil, and it will thrive in full sun or partial shade. As it begins to grow into the form of a tree it will require a little bit of pruning, especially if you want to use it as a privacy screen, however, if you choose to use it as a hedge you can also undertake hard pruning here and there, and it will return with vigour.

This tree is medium in size and deciduous, taking on either an oval rounded crown or a pyramidal crown. The leaves are dark green in colour and sharply toothed. In fact, the leaves can reach up to 12cm in size. One of the more attractive components of this characteristic is the fact that it’s not susceptible to most foliar diseases. After you are done with the dark green, rest assured that the foliage will take on a yellow and orange shade come autumn. By spring, as mentioned before, the flowering catkins appear followed by small fruits that drops in the summer. 

Carpinus Betulus
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7. Acer platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’

The Crimson Sentry is an upright tree that does quite well in residential areas, especially smaller gardens. If you want to plant a tree but you need a small tree, this is the perfect option. It is one that grows with dense and heavily branched structures. The canopy itself is very compact but very narrow, inside of which, you will see leaves that take on hues from deep purple all the way to maroon and then eventually to bronze colour in autumn.

It requires full sunlight and regular watering during the first year of planting. On average it will grow up to 6 metres tall and 3 metres wide with a narrow habit that makes it ideal for narrow spaces in your garden.


8. Crataegus ‘Pauls Scarlet’ – Hawthorn Tree

The Hawthorn tree is a broadleaf tree that is deciduous and grows between 4 and 6 meters. Each of the branches is covered in dense thorns that can reach up to 2.5cm in length.

The Hawthorn tree is a broadleaf tree that is deciduous and grows between 4 and 6 metres. Each of the branches is covered in dense thorns that can reach up to 2.5cm in length. The leaves bring to the table a wonderful level of variety and can be simple and glossy, rounded with four lobes, serrated with different sizes. When the flowers appear the entire tree is covered in scarlet flowers that are small but beautiful, converting the entire colour of the tree all at once.

It can also be very successfully cultivated as a hedge, however, we personally think it does better left as a tree because you cut the flowering branches off when it is planted as a hedge. Not only do the flowers (and leaves) provide a beautiful backdrop for your garden but the thorns make it very difficult for animals or people to sneak by, when planted as a hedge. You will enjoy some fruits that attract birds and other animals to your garden, which is truly just the icing on the cake. 

Crataegus 'Pauls Scarlet'
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9. Eucalyptus gunnii – Cider Gum

Referred to as the cider gum, this evergreen tree is one of the fastest growing eucalyptus trees out there and it takes on an upright, cone shape with a dense canopy of leaves.

Referred to as the Cider Gum, this evergreen tree is one of the fastest-growing eucalyptus trees out there. It takes on an upright cone shape with a dense canopy of leaves. The bark itself is very smooth and it will flake off in large pieces that take on many different colours including brown, cream and pink. It gives off a sweet fragrance and when it’s younger you’ll notice that it takes on a silver-blue tone because as it matures it converts itself to a blue-green tone.

Come summer you can enjoy clusters of small, fluffy white flowers and the flowers combined with the foliage make it a dramatic specimen tree. It is also very well equipped to provide shade in your garden or to be used as a screen because it is quite fast-growing. At maturity, it can span between 9 and 21 metres with a width between 5 and 12 metres, however, most specimens we have seen are nowhere near this size. It is also deer resistant, which means any garden that would otherwise require a great deal of fencing to protect against local deer can enjoy the Eucalyptus with no issues. 

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10. Fagus sylvatica atropurpurea – Purple Beech

This is a deciduous tree that produces rounded, spreading crowns of dense foliage that naturally assumes a pyramid shape.

This is a deciduous tree that produces rounded, spreading crowns of dense foliage that naturally assumes a pyramid shape. The leaves are elliptical with a coppery shade that eventually turns deep purple. Even in the winter, it brings forth grey bark that is a stunning addition to any garden because it also keeps its leaves that turn coppery brown, only falling in spring just as new leaves shoot. Around the middle of spring you will notice contrasting yellow-green flowers on display, followed by the fruits that come autumn ripen. This specimen is great for screens, hedges, and frequently used in larger landscapes.

Once fully established, it will reach up to 18 metres tall and 12 metres wide. It grows best in well-drained soil and thrives in partial shade or full sun, and once it’s planted it will convert itself perfectly into a hedge, screen, or you can use it simply as a specimen plant. It’s not subject to any serious diseases or insect problems aside from things like caterpillars and aphids, so it’s otherwise very low-maintenance. Perhaps most attractive is the fact that it is deer resistant so anyone with many deer roaming their property will benefit from the purple beech tree.

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Image credits – Shutterstock

Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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