Affordable Privacy Trees — 5 Varieties to Fence Your Home That Work on Any Budget

Privacy trees are a great way to keep the nosey neighbors at bay — but they can be quite an expensive investment. Here are our top picks for optimal privacy at the best price

swimming pool in backyard by Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture
(Image credit: Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture/Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

Finding affordable privacy trees can be quite the task, especially if you’re searching for the best fit and design for your backyard. If you’re looking to add comfort and style into your outdoor living area, then privacy fencing is your best bet. From wood fencing to vinyl — there is an array of options to choose from, but for me, trees take the crown.

The best trees for privacy will allow you to conceal a space, while also welcoming nature into the exterior of your home. It’s the perfect way to give back to the environment as well as embracing solace in your space. Finding the right natural screening at an affordable price can be tricky, which is why we’ve done the work for you!

Goodbye to wood fencing and hello to glorious nature, here are 5 affordable privacy trees you need in your garden this season.

What are the cheapest privacy trees?

Carolin Sousa, Horticultural expert and founder of landscaping firm CSRenders, LLC has shared her expertise and some of her top picks of affordable privacy trees that will brighten up your backyard.

Horticultural expert
Carolin Sousa

Carolin, founder and principal designer at CRenders, is a professionally trained landscape designer based out of Virginia, USA. She attended college in Colorado and worked at a design/build firm while attending school. After graduation, she honed her design/build craft at high end residential firms serving the greater Denver, Colorado area. Her love for the landscaping world led her to starting her own company which provides remote landscape design and 3D rendering services to landscape and architecture companies across the nation.

1. Juniper (Genus Juniperus)

Juniper trees being used as a privacy wall

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's bright, bold and it loves to stand tall. Juniper trees are versatile and have the ability to grow in difficult climates — making it an ideal choice for patio privacy.These trees are ideal if you’re on a budget and can be found at different price ranges. If you are looking for a mature Juniper tree, prices can start from $94.99, like this Juniper, Blue Point Shrub (7 Gallon) from Walmart, making it a very affordable privacy tree with instant effect. Mature Juniper trees take up to three years to grow, so you’ll have to be patient with this one as it is not a fast growing privacy tree.

Carolin tells us: 'The list of varieties for Juniper trees is endless. They are hardy, fast growing, evergreen privacy trees that typically don’t need a lot of care or maintenance. These trees also typically have inconspicuous berries that are good for wildlife, grow in a variety of soils, and can be found at almost every neighborhood nursery'.

Specific fastigiate varieties: Taylor Juniper, Blue Point Juniper, Skyrocket Juniper, Spartan Juniper

Height: According to the United States Department of Agriculture common junipers can grow up to 25 feet

Hardiness zone: 2-7 (USDA)

Sunlight: Full sun up to 8 hours

Soil type: Well-drained

2. Spruce Tree (Genus Picea)

White spruce conica well-groomed trees in a row

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Spruce trees are quite popular for windbreaks with its sturdy foundation and light needle-like leaves. It is also known to be one of the best evergreen trees. Depending on the type of Spruce tree you want, the price can vary from $60 to $95.99, like this Colorado Blue Spruce Tree, 1-2 ft from Walmart. The growth of the tree depends on the type you’re planting. For example the Norway Spruce is a fast-growing tree and can grow to 75 feet in 50 years.

Aesthetic and private, spruce trees 'are less friendly to people walking by due to their sharp needles, but they are extremely hardy evergreen trees,' Carolin says. 'There are less skinny varieties available but a single mature spruce can add the same privacy as 10 Taylor Junipers, if your yard is large enough to accommodate it'.

Specific fastigiate varieties: Columnar Norway Spruce, Columnar Blue Spruce, Iseli Fastigiate Colorado Spruce, Blue Totem Blue Spruce. 'In Colorado, these varieties have shown to lose their lower branching over time, resulting in dead-spots on the tree,' Carolin notes.

Height: Up to 80 feet tall

Hardiness zone: 2-8

Sunlight: Direct sunlight for 6 hours

Soil type: Moist, well-drained

3. Columnar Oak (Quercus robur 'Fastigiata')

Photo showing a young 'Upright English oak tree', also known as fastigiate or columnar. The Latin name for this unusual specimen tree is Quercus robur fastigiata.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Known to have a 700 year life span, the columnar oak comes in a range of different varieties. Mature columnar oak trees vary in price depending on the variety you want to plant in your backyard. This Columnar English Oak, 2 year old, bare root is priced at $29.89 from Walmart and this Regal Prince Oak Tree is priced at $189.95 from Fast Growing Trees — not the cheapest privacy tree for a more mature specimen, but not budget breaking by any means. 

As for hardiness, Carolin explains: 'Oak trees hold on to their leaves longer through the winter than most other deciduous trees, making them more popular as a privacy trees. Oaks also have great fall color and bear fruits/seeds that are great for the local wildlife population. Most oaks have been bred to be very hardy so they’re widely available. Some varieties have lower limbs than others'.

Specific fastigiate varieties: Columnar English Oak, Crimson Spire Oak, Kindred Spirit Oak

Height: 60 feet tall

Hardiness zone: 4-8

Sunlight: Full sun for 6+ hours

Soil type: Well-drained

4. Arborvitae (Thuja)

Green thuja trees are planted in a row. Beautiful green plants and green grass

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Arborvitae, also known as the Thuja tree are great evergreen trees for a low maintenance garden that come in a range of sizes. If you're planting this tree in your backyard, the great thing is that you don't need to do much to tend it. You can also breathe a sigh of relief as this graceful tree has no serious disease or pest issues. It’s perfect if you’re on a budget and you can purchase the thuja tree in different sizes. For example this Green Giant Arborvitae Fast Growing Evergreen Thuja Tree from Walmart comes in 3 different sizes. The 2.5 Quart Sized Pot which typically holds 1 year old plants, the 2.5 gallon pit and the 7 Gallon pot. Prices start at $18.99 and come to $99.98.

Carolin says that in Colorado, the Arborvitae thuja ‘variety is hit-or-miss because they don’t like quick, heavy frosts in the fall and winter, but in more southern states there are the go-to privacy tree in America (it seems)'. She adds: 'This plant is incredibly fast growing and is extremely popular and widely available. They have soft needles and take well to hedging so they make the perfect privacy tree'.

Specific fastigiate varieties: Emerald Green Arborvitae, Degroots Spire Arborvitae, Polar Gold Arborvitae, North Pole Arborvitae

Height: Up to 40-60 feet tall

Hardiness zone: 2-8

Sunlight: Minimum of 6 hours or more of direct sunlight

Soil type: Moist, Well-drained

5. Magnolia tree

Beautiful pink flowers of the spring flowering Magnolia shrub in a garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pink, purple, white and yellow, Magnolia trees come in a range of different shades that will most certainly brighten up your backyard. It's glossy, oval-shaped leaves are a stunning display of nature. Depending on where you purchase and the size/age upon purchase of this tree, prices can vary on this tree. For example this Southern Planters 3-Gallons White Flowering Little Gem Southern Magnolia In Pot from Lowe’s is price at $72.98. But remember, if you are looking to add this tree into yout backyard, think of it as a long-term investment as they are slow growing and can take 10-20 years to reach their full potential.

Carolin says 'this tree has incredibly gorgeous flowers in the Spring season and some varieties have been cultivated to hold on to their leaves year-round. If you’re looking for a statement privacy tree, this would be the one!'

Specific fastigiate varieties: Little Gem Dwarf Southern Magnolia Tree, Teddy Bear magnolia

Height: 20-80 feet tall

Hardiness zone: 4-10

Sunlight: Full sunlight for at least 4 hours

Soil type: Moist, well-drained


How can I make buying privacy trees more affordable?

Trimmed Thuja tree in the garden on a green lawn

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When buying privacy trees, these factors will really affect the cost:

- Size
- Growing speed
- Availability

Carolin Sousa, Horticultural expert and founder of CSRenders, LLC says there are a few things to consider before getting a privacy tree.

The first is size, she notes: 'the bigger you can buy a tree, the more instantaneous the privacy it can provide. Some varieties of trees are available in much larger sizes, for example, in Colorado you can buy a 25’Colorado Spruce and a 6” Autumn Blaze Maple'. Of course, the larger the tree, the more expensive, so if you can wait, invest in smaller trees that can grow into your space to provide privacy.

This goes hand in hand with the speed of the tree's growth. 'The faster a tree grows, the more instantaneous the privacy it can provide. Though this sometimes also coincides with more rapid tree death/growth cycle or more breakage prone limbs,' Carolin adds.

Last but not least, Carolin says you need to consider availability. 'If you’re trying to plant a large of one tree, will this need to be a special order item with the nursery? Will they have availability the next year if and when a few die off?,' Carolin explains.

How many privacy trees will I need?

A backyard space with entertaining set-up

(Image credit: Adam Potts Design: Susan Skornicka)

You may think that you can save money by buying fewer trees, but privacy tree spacing is important to get right if you want an effective screen to your backyard.

This is quite an important factor. Carolin notes: 'When planting, consider the mature size of the plant and make sure you have enough space between your yard, house, fence and the tree to accommodate the plant at 75% of its mature size'.

'If I could provide one snippet of advice, it would be to not be afraid to introduce multiple varieties of plants in a staggered line vs opting for a hedge,' she says. 'Landscaping isn't like interior design (where colors tend to coordinate, everything has its place and everything is in it): controlled chaos, multiple varieties, and opposing seasonal features work incredibly well outdoors'.

Just like any other plant, it's important to take care of your privacy trees in order for them to grow and grant you the best screening experience. If you have a small backyard, there are many different privacy trees for small backyards. Consider adding palm trees or bamboo trees to help elevate the way your yard looks. But if you're looking for more of a modern touch, vinyl and wood fences are a popular choice for many.

However your choose to screen your outdoor space to keep those nosey neighbors away, these designs are sure to make your home stylish and chic.

Advice & Gardens Editor

Faiza is the Advice & Gardens Editor at Livingetc. She previously worked for The Independent as a News Feature Writer, where she wrote articles on lifestyle, entertainment, news and more. She also worked as an Audience Editor for the newspaper for over two years. Spending a few years in the newsroom, Faiza also previously worked for Sky News as an SEO reporter, where she produced stories based on trending topics. Lifestyle and Interior design is a space Faiza has been interested in for quite some time and as she continues to grow in the field, she will be diving into an interior design course to further her skills. Faiza has a background in SEO, social media and reporting. Her passion for writing goes beyond her work as she loves all things poetry and creative writing.