The Leyland cypress (Cupressus) is America’s most-planted privacy tree for a reason: It grows fast (up to 5 feet per year) and has an iconic columnar silhouette that makes it ideal as a dense, living wall when planted 8 feet apart.
For smaller yards where a row of Leyland cypresses might feel overwhelming, consider this arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘American Pillar’) as a privacy screen.
While I could’ve picked a conifer as the best fast-growing evergreen, I decided to go with an Oakland holly tree (Ilex ‘Magland’) because it’s a cone-shaped evergreen tree that doesn’t have needles, which makes it more interesting in my book.
For bitterly cold climates down to zone 2 (around -40°F), Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) is my pick for an extremely cold-hardy evergreen that’s also sleek and beautiful.
If you want a big, romantic tree to sit under on a hot summer day with a picnic or a book in hand, it’s hard to go wrong with the secluded shade of a weeping willow (Salix babylonica). This dramatic tree is beloved for its falling canopy of low, sweeping branches and classic, graceful look.