Great Trees for Privacy, Borders, and Windbreaks

Trees used in borders provide both privacy and beauty in the landscape. Many of these trees are also well suited for hedges, but the selection of a tree should be made by considering the particular purpose of the hedge and the growing conditions at the desired site. Check the individual tree species links for photo characteristics and site needs.


  • vTrees Factsheets, Virginia Tech Dendrology
  • Images, Forestry Images
  • Fact Sheet ST series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

White Fir or Abies Concolor

white fir tree
(Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulurist/

Abies concolor grows to 65 feet and is a large evergreen tree with a silver-green to blue color. Although not as vigorous as other large evergreens, white fir is one of the best firs for eastern landscapes in milder climates (in zones 3 to 7) due to heat and drought tolerance and is a great replacement for blue spruce. It is a slow grower, grows large and favored on large landscapes as a barrier specimen.

American Arborvitae or Thuja Occidentalis

arborvitae hedge
(T. Davis Sydnor/The Ohio State University/

Arborvitae grows to 35 feet and is best used as a screen or hedge planted on 8 to 10- foot centers. It can also be useful for windbreaks. Do not use in hot dry situations. It's good as a single specimen plant as well as massed in hedges. Always choose from the superior cultivars, many of which have pyramidal or rounded canopy forms.

Amur Maple or Acer Ginnala

maple tree hedge
(Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulurist/

Amur maple grows to 20 feet and is very dense and compact. This maple is easy to maintain as it requires little pruning. Acer ginnala is one of the only maples useful as windbreaks and screens and is an excellent, low-growing tree for small yards and other small-scale landscapes. It can be grown as a multi-stemmed clump or can be trained into a small tree with a single trunk up to four to six feet tall.

Carolina Hemlock or Tsuga Caroliniana

carolina hemlock tree
(William M. Ciesla/Forest Health Management International/

This evergreen hemlock grows large to 60 feet and is densely compact. It is the preferred hemlock for use in larger landscapes for windbreaks or screens. Carolina hemlock is noted to perform better under urban conditions than other hemlocks but grows a bit slower than Canadian Hemlock. This hemlock is harder to find in the nursery trade.