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Thursday - March 17, 2011

From: Nassau County, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for privacy in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I am looking for trees native to New York that I can plant in front of my backyard fence that is six feet tall that will not hide my fence or overshadow my east facing garden beds and plants underneath them in the afternoon, but will provide a year-round screen of my neighbor’s property.I want trees w/ erect growing branches that are thin near the bottom and fuller near the top; so, I was thinking of columnar fastigate trees that grow up fast, but not out. How about Lombardy poplar or hornbeam before arborvitaes? Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants


It sounds like you know exactly what you want but it is not clear that there is such a tree that grows that way.  Most evergreen trees are wider at the bottom and look somewhat awkward with their lower branches removed.  Single stemmed (one trunk) deciduous trees have the form you are looking for but will not give you a year round screen.

You are right to be thinking about a tree with a fastigiate form and the European hornbeam displays that form more than our native Ostrya virginiana (Eastern hop-hornbeam) and Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam) as does the Lombardy poplar (a short lived, European import that we would never recommend planting).

There is a columnar cultivar of Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) which is the only fastigiate evergreen that comes to mind.

Your other choice would be a small (relatively), vase shaped multistemmed tree.  These are all deciduous and would only provide partial coverage in the wintertime.  Some suggestions are:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Betula nigra (River birch)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)

Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay)

Ostrya virginiana

Carpinus caroliniana

Amelanchier canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Betula nigra

Hamamelis virginiana

Magnolia virginiana







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