Nothing is more beautiful or cost-effective when it comes to creating protective barriers than living, breathing walls of green. Privacy plantings can provide camouflage for practical items in your garden, like utility fences and HVAC units, as well as simply block your neighbor’s view of your garden.
The cost-effective aspect is in choosing rapidly growing plants for this purpose. The trick is to buy them young and in bulk.
Here, I’ll show you twelve cheap fast growing privacy trees and shrubs that you can easily incorporate into your landscape to increase not only privacy but shade, form, and beauty.
- Selecting Fast-Growing Privacy Trees
- Save Cost Buy In Bulk
- Cheapest Fast-Growing Privacy Trees
- Planning A Mixed Evergreen Privacy Screen
- FAQ Fast Growing Privacy Trees
Selecting Fast-Growing Privacy Trees
Even with these recommendations being highly cost-effective, you should still consider them an investment. As they grow larger, they can add to the value of your property.
When making your choice, consider what other attributes they may contribute to your landscape. Are you looking to add flowers and texture, as well as privacy, to your garden? How will that particular shade of green play against your existing perennials?
Planting location and maturity should be your primary considerations, though. These factors will make matching one or two of the following options to your landscape a breeze.
Height And Spread Of Mature Trees
Even with accelerated growth, privacy trees take time to mature. By the time they do, they can become enormous if left unpruned. In 20-30 years, these landscape monoliths can reach 30-75 feet in height with up to 30 ft in-branch spread. You need to be sure your property can accommodate the mature fully grown height and spread of the trees you choose.
- Consider the planting distance from the property, will the tree facilitate the privacy you need even if it has to be 30 feet from the nearest building, to avoid roots damaging building foundations
- Decide on the height your privacy screen needs to be, and avoid larger trees that may block out sunlight or have a detrimental effect on the garden space
- Pick trees and shrubs of an appropriate scale to fit your yard and not be too much of a dominant feature
The gorgeous options below grow at different rates and to various maturity sizes. While it’s sometimes difficult to envision this when you buy them as saplings, choosing the right maturity size is vital for planting success.
The biggest benefit to choosing cheap fast growing privacy trees is just how fast you get a lush, living privacy barrier surrounding your outdoor spaces.
But consider how tall and wide you want your barrier to be. How big is the planting area? Is it close to your home or other outbuilding structures on your property?
Some trees and shrubs may grow quicker than you can trim them. Picking one with the right growth rate will reduce maintenance and increase functionality.
Before you fall in love with a tree species, and patiently wait for them to grow, you need to be certain the trees you have selected will thrive in their new environment. Some trees are very forgiving and tolerate just about anything, whilst others are extremely temperamental and sensitive to soil or weather conditions. So consider their hardiness, salt tolerance, and the tree’s preferred soil type.
Sun or Shade
All plants and trees need light to photosynthesis and grow, that’s obvious to everyone. Just that some can tolerate low light or shade better than others. Flowering or fruiting trees need full sun, whilst trees that grow in woodlands or under jungle canopies preferred dappled light or shade. Pick a tree that will suit your planting location and bear in mind, trees can tolerate low light, but they will all generally grow faster in positions receiving at least 6 hours of light per day.
Your regional climate will have a limiting effect on what trees are suitable in your area. Maybe look around your local town and see what species are growing successfully. Or be sure to check the climate hardiness zone of the tree to be sure it will cope with a harsh winter or summer.
Your local area will most likely have a specific soil type, whether that be sandy, clay, or rich loam. Trees that grow naturally in certain locations, do so as they have a preference for the local soil type. Sandy soil is fast draining and is typically poor at holding moisture or nutrients. Clay soil on the other hand is rich in silt deposits and holds a lot of moisture.
A tree that loves free-draining sandy soil, just simply won’t perform well in heavy clay soil and you will find over time the tree will possibly die or at the very least look weak and unsightly. So pick trees that suit the local soil type, and pH level.
If you live near a coastline, then salt tolerance is a major consideration. The wind carries saltwater, and the local water table will also affect the coastline soil salinity. Any tree planted within throwing distance of the coast will need a little more thought. The same applies to trees planted along roadsides or in regions that experience regular snow. Road salt will leach into the surrounding soil impacting the local tree population.
Evergreen or Deciduous
Evergreens as the name suggests, hold onto their green foliage all year round, and deciduous tree shed their leaves in fall. If your goal is the create a narrow barrier of trees to provide privacy from the roadside or a neighbor, you really will need an evergreen variety. Whereas planting a mixture of trees in groups offer you the luxury of mixing evergreens and deciduous trees, and this will generally allow you to play around with more ornamental-looking trees.
Plan Your Planting Spacing
The exact square footage of your planting area will help you determine how many trees or shrubs you need, how far apart to plant them, and what maturity size will best fit.
In large, open spaces, a Spartan Juniper, Leyland Cypress, or Thuja Green Giant will fill in beautifully and in record time. If you have a long narrow space to fill, take a look at the wax myrtle or Italian cypress. These can be pruned to remain fairly narrow.
Consider Pruning And Maintenance
When choosing from your shortlist of cheap fast growing privacy trees, consider the amount of maintenance and upkeep each tree or shrub requires.
Would you mind doing a little spring and fall pruning? Or are you looking for something more maintenance-free?
In small or narrow spaces, occasionally removing winter damage, or branches that have grown beyond their original footprint will help keep your natural privacy borders healthy and lush.
When defining property lines, in open fields, maintenance is typically not necessary.
Save Cost Buy In Bulk
As mentioned, the cost-effective aspect of this kind of project comes in when you buy privacy trees and shrubs, (native species are ideal) in bulk. The price per unit will go down significantly the more you purchase at one time.
Five or more is a great start, but 10 or more will complete your project in one go. All that’s left to do after that is plant them and enjoy watching them grow in the privacy of your own garden.
Choose Smaller Trees and Shrubs
Of course, choosing larger specimens will still save you a bundle and result in immediate function and effect. No waiting for things to grow in, you’re done.
However, what puts the following options in the category of cheap fast growing privacy trees is just how economical they are to buy, in bulk, as small saplings. The difference can be $50 or more per tree.
Another benefit to buying specimens that remain relatively small is how beautifully they fit in with other complementary plantings. The mix of color, texture, and size can be absolutely stunning.
Cheapest Fast-Growing Privacy Trees
Sure, you could just install a wooden fence to try and increase privacy. But these typically need maintenance and refinishing every few years. Which continually adds to the overall cost of it. Not to mention, in urban and suburban areas, there’s usually a legal limit to how tall fences can be.
On the other hand, it’s uncommon for there to be an imposed limit on how tall trees and shrubs can grow. Fresh, clean oxygen, vibrant color, stunning texture, and form, plus privacy and shade. All this, plus, fast-growing and cheap! Let’s take a look at those beauties, now.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees
I’ve chosen the following 3 trees, based on similar size and form. Yet, unique in growing habits, mature size, and structure. All of which makes them perfect for creating a lush privacy barrier around large spaces.
These can also be trimmed to whatever shape suits you.
(Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’)
Spartan Junipers are a popular choice as privacy barriers. Tightly woven branches, with thick foliage, stay close to the trunk. So, they’re unlikely to grow beyond their allotted footprint.
These quickly increase privacy by growing a full 12” in height per year. Reaching maturity at 15-20 years old. With consistent, spring trimming, they’ll maintain a tidy and pleasing appearance throughout the seasons.
When planting, a five-foot gap is recommended for rows, 4’ for a staggered look, and 3’ for a solid wall of juniper hedging. The average price per tree is usually based on size and starts at around $50 for a 1’ sapling.
Wax Myrtle Tree
The versatile Wax Myrtle can be grown as a shrub hedge or as a tree. Create a sky-high privacy wall when planted along your property line.
This woody, broadleaf grows at a rapid 3-5 feet per year. Filling its planting space and providing considerable privacy in record time. In maturity, it can grow to 20 feet in height.
When placing these multi-trunked beauties, arrange them 5-6’ apart, to provide adequate growing room, and at least 5’ from buildings, patios, and decks.
The average price per plant typically depends on pot size (in gallons/liters) and starts at around $90 for a 3-gallon pot.
Willow Hybrid Tree
(Salix x matsudana x alba)
The willow hybrid has long branches with slim, narrow leaves that display a green, ombre effect. Reaching upward, these create a thick, living privacy border that’s easy to maintain.
The arms of this willow grow at an accelerated rate of 6-10’ per year. With a maximum maturity size of 50-75’ by 20-30’. Making this one of the fastest growers on this list.
For a dense privacy divider, plant them 3’ feet apart. As a windbreaker, plant them in a staggered pattern, five feet apart.
Earning its title as a cheap fast-growing privacy tree, the average price of a willow hybrid ranges from just $2-$4 each when purchased as tiny saplings, in bulk. To around $60 each for a 3-4 ft tree.
Fast Growing Evergreen Trees
These evergreen options have striking forms and colors from spring through winter. When grouped together they make a striking privacy border. But their use in landscape design is further reaching, adorning formal and casual gardens, alike.
The Italian Cypress is the supermodel of evergreens. Tall and slender, these Mediterranean natives make a statement around entryways. Or, when planted, en masse.
These rapidly growing conifers develop 12-24” of new growth per year as they move toward maturity. At this time, they can grow to 60’ in height with a narrow girth of just 3-6’.
In a privacy border, Italian cypress trees should be planted 3’ feet apart to allow for unimpeded growth (5-6 feet, for a more elegant aesthetic). Despite their slender appearance, these can also be planted as a windbreaker, when planted in bulk and positioned in a staggered pattern.
The average price for Italian cypress trees depends on the size and ranges from $30.00 for a 1-2ft tree to $200 for a 7ft specimen.
Leyland Cypress Tree
A cousin to the Italian variety, the Leyland cypress is similar in appearance to the Spartan Juniper. Yet, these trees grow much faster and are typically a bit shorter in stature.
How much faster do they grow? Up to 4’ per year, even in poor soil! Talk about great value for money. In maturity, these can reach 60-70 feet in height.
If your goal is a tall, natural-looking privacy border, then trimming or pruning will rarely be needed. But, when grouped with other plants, occasional trimming, and shaping may be needed.
Leyland cypress trees need plenty of space and should be planted a good 8-10 feet apart. The average price depends on tree height and ranges from $20.00 for a tiny sapling to around $170 for a 5-6ft specimen.
Thuja Green Giant
(Thuja plicata x standishii ‘Green Giant’)
An alternative to the Leyland cypress is the Thuja green giant. Dense branches full of vibrant, loosely spaced needles, add a lush element to your landscape that is virtually maintenance-free.
This arborvitae variety is only second to the Leyland cypress in growth rate. An additional 3’ per year creates a naturally formed conical shape. Meaningless trimming is needed to maintain that look.
These do require a large footprint, though. Mature trees reach 60’ in height with a 20’ spread. As a living windbreaker, Thuja Giants should be planted 5-6’ apart. 2 rows staggered 8-15’ apart will provide even more protection.
These huge trees are not necessarily expensive. The average price depends on height and surprisingly ranges from $16.00 for a 1-2ft sapling to less than $100 for a 4-5ft specimen.
Fast Growing Hedges
Hedges are a great choice in suburban environments. You can let them grow beyond standard fence height or keep them at that 6’ mark. They also offer stunning colors and textures that evergreen trees do not. Creating a lovely balance of form and function.
Dense Spreading Yew
(Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’)
If you like that evergreen border look but need something shorter to sit on raised lawn or perimeter, the densely spreading Yew offers just that. Unique texture and fall “fruit” makes this a brilliant pairing with other plants and is conveniently low maintenance.
Part of that comes from its relatively slow growth rate, compared to others on our list. It still grows about 1’ per year and, in maturity, reaches 3’ in height with a 5’ spread. This results in a beautiful, densely growing privacy shrub that needs very little pruning.
To achieve a dense hedge, these dwarf conifers should be planted 30” apart, measured from the main trunk. For a more decorative look, plant them 6’ apart from your other border plants. These are usually sold by pot size and range from $20 – $40 per plant.
‘Ever Red’ Loropetalum
For a combination of privacy and color, the ‘Ever Red’ Loropetalum is well-known for its rich foliage color and vibrant flowers. Creating a lovely contrast to lawns, when bordering your entryway or as bushes in pots on your front porch.
These grow 1-2’ per year, making them popular choices as privacy hedges. Spring trimming may be necessary to maintain the desired shape. But, the broad, burgundy leaves and fragrant flowers that result, make occasional trimming well worth it.
In maturity, these can reach a height of 12-15’. So, as a privacy hedge, they’ll need to be planted 4’ apart, measured from the center of each plant.
These are typically sold by pot size and range from a few dollars for tiny plants to around $50 for a 2-gallon pot.
Dwarf Korean Lilac Shrub
(Syringa Meyeri ‘Palibin’)
To increase the wow factor, this dwarf lilac presents magenta buds that reveal amazingly fragrant flowers. This, I consider the best value for money in this category. Because dwarf lilacs flower from an early age, no waiting for them to mature, and can easily be grown as a flowering privacy hedge.
Growing 6-8” per year, these are relatively low maintenance for what you get in return. In maturity, the “dwarf” Korean lilac can reach 7 feet tall with a 4’ spread and can live for 25 or more years.
As a privacy hedge, these should be planted 4-5’ apart, measured from the plant’s center. Yet can also grow beautifully in pots or highlighted in landscape groupings.
The average price depends on shrub age and height, ranging from $16.00 for small plants to less than $100 for mature trees.
Fast Growing Shrubs For Privacy
The shrub varieties most chosen for privacy borders can be as diverse in color, texture, and fragrance, as any other plant in your garden. And still, be cheap and fast-growing. The following three options provide all that, and then some.
Red Twig Dogwood Shrub
The Red Twig Dogwood was born to be grown as a privacy hedge. In groups, these form densely packed branches that glow an electrifying, dark red against a bare, winter backdrop. Come spring, green foliage and clusters of creamy-white flowers abound.
Contrary to other dogwood species, the red twig is a rapid grower. Adding 12” of new branch spread every year. Once mature, and if left unpruned, this shrub can grow to 8’ feet tall with a 10’ spread.
When purchased young, their diminutive size allows them to be planted closer together than larger species for a thicker privacy barrier. Even so, they should still be planted 4-5’ apart and no closer than 6’ from your home or other buildings.
These are usually sold by pot size and range from $20 for a 1-gallon pot to less than $100 for mature sizes.
Sweet Mock Orange Shrub
(Philadelphus x virginalis)
The Mock orange is a fast-growing, deciduous shrub with a dense growth habit. Presenting dark green leaves and cupped, white flowers, in late spring and early summer, that fill the air with the scent of orange blossoms.
With a relatively quick growth rate, these shrubs can grow 2’ per year. Growing to a mature height and width of 10-12’, with a rounded shape. Even larger when grown in full sun. Giving the appearance of scalloped lace from a distance.
These aromatic beauties are grown as both a singular, garden feature or in bulk as a stunning privacy hedge. In this case, mock oranges should be planted 6-8’ apart to accommodate their mature size and growth rate.
The average price per plant depends on the stage of maturity and ranges from $50.00 for a 1-gallon plant to around $80 for 3-4ft shrubs.
Lynwood Gold Forsythia Shrub
(Forsythia x intermedia)
Lastly, the spectacular Lynwood Gold forsythia, with its yellow, bell-shaped, spring blooms on long, arching branches, reaches to the sky. Followed by lush, vibrant summer foliage.
With a rapid growth rate of 2-4’ per year, the Gold Forsythia has fantastic value for money, when purchased in bulk. Quickly filling out their allotted footprint as a vibrant hedge or a single landscape feature.
In maturity, these prolific bloomers reach 5’ tall and 10-12’ wide. So, they need plenty of room to grow. As a privacy hedge, they should be planted 8-10’ apart. This may seem too far, but this amount of spacing allows the branches to arch naturally. While the plants gently grow together into a hedge.
Average prices are quite economical but depend on the stage of maturity and young plants typically run around $10 while mature shrubs go for around $70.
Planning A Mixed Evergreen Privacy Screen
Now that you’ve discovered all these cheap fast growing privacy trees and shrubs, why not think about mixing them up? How would you create that stunning collage of size, texture, and color?
You could choose evergreen varieties, of varying heights, as a backdrop. Like the grand Spartan Juniper or wispy Thuja Green giant. Then, for contrasting texture, you might add something like a Willow Hybrid.
For splashes of color, you could top the look off with a red twig dogwood or an “ever red” Loropetalum. Now you have a stunning tapestry that will serve as a living privacy barrier for years to come.