fast growing privacy trees

groundpoundinNovember 23, 2010


I am hoping for suggestions from experience on what would be the best type of tree to use for a privacy barrier to run about 250 to 300 feet. I am located in zone 5/Eastern Washington State. We are looking pretty much for a total privacy barrier at a height of at least 15 feet or more. We have been told the hybrid Willow or golden willow would be good choices for this region and for what we are looking to do. The question we have is that we have read where the roots can be a bit intrusive on sprinkler and or other type of underground pipes and was wondering if anyone had any idea how much area around these type of trees would be safe. Plus from experience can someone give us an idea on how far apart these type of trees would need to be planted to obtain quick privacy. The images we have saw of the hybrid willow the tree looks huge and you would think 10 feet apart would be plenty but we have read from a little as 3 to 5 feet apart. Anyway any tips or suggestions would be appreciated a great deal. Cost of course is a factor as well. Plus any other type of tree suggestions would be appreciated as well if there are any others that would do the job.

Thank you, Frank

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go with thunja "Green Giant", these get pretty tall if you let them go. Plus they grow several feet per year which means you will have a privacy fence in no time. In addition , they get really thick; you can see through them.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 9:11PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

My neighbor's weeping willow STILL has green and yellow leaves. Not to mention it has grown fast as can be.

How far from the sprinklers and all are you planting?

Try to plant a variety of species. That way when the Chinese XXXXX bug comes through your whole screen doesnt die.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 9:44PM
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As tornado mentioned, it covers your rear end if you plant more than one species. And rather that a solid hedge, which screams out to future potential homebuyers... "whatever you do... don't look behind here," a mixed hedge not planted in a single line will look like "landscaping," which adds value to a property rather than attracts attention to a fault like being very close to a neighbor or having a neighbor that has a junk car collection.

In that region, I think you can grow just about everything your heart desires and from what I gather everything under the sun grows like a beast in the northwest. And you can actually find stuff to plant. I'll defer to the people who live in that area, they'll give you some ideas.

I will say that willows in general, are not that desireable. The hybrid willows are often used here in the midwest as windbreaks and they really aren't much to look at. Seems like unless you're in the eastern part of your state you will probably have a lot more, better options.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 8:42AM
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Dan Staley

My experience of the knowledge of "designers" and MGs in E WA is generally not good, so you must be careful of advice you get out there. Good, knowledgeable landscape advice is hard to find, but cr*ppy advice is very easy to come by.

Sure, you can have willows, but the second you are gone and something cuts off their water they are dead in the single-digit humidity and wind. I'd contact your County Extension agency and see what they have, esp wrt what critters and pests are in the area. Extension agents are pretty good out there, esp the closer you get to Wazoo or Yakima.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 11:20AM
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Oh missed the "Eastern washington" part. Whoops.
Fewer options.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 3:00PM
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For a privacy screen, consider choosing trees that are evergreen in your area.

Willow, along with poplar, is one of those trees it's recommended not be planted anywhere near a septic tank or leach field.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 5:45PM
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Tell us a bit more what your planting conditions are like.....what kind of soil, soil pH, accessibility to water, exposure to wind, etc. Knowing that will make appropriate suggestions easier to come by :-)

I'd hesitate to recommend the willows unless you have an expansive piece of property and an unlimited and consistant supply of water. They DO have a very aggressive and widespreading root system and will seek out water sources over a large distance. Any inground piping or plumbing or septic system within around 40' will be vulnerable. They also produce a lot of surface roots and planting close to driveways can create issues down the road:-) And you sure as heck don't want them close to any structure. Willows, hybrid or not, are prone to a host of pest and disease issues and tend to have brittle wood that is easily damaged in wind or snow/ice. And they need copious amounts of water to thrive and produce that fast growth they are touted about.

Water availability in the northwest, especially in our rather dry summers, is something to keep in mind. Ideally, you would want something that is going to be more drought tolerant than not. Water is not an unlimited resource here and for ease of maintenance and ecological responsibility, drought tolerance is an extremely desirable attribute. And "fast" growing also tends to be very closely aligned with being short-lived, not to mention, growing to be BIG. Is there an upper limit on height you intend?

I have no issues with planting a screening hedge of a single species - it does not necessarily mean you are 'hiding' anything - but 300' of the same species will be a bit boring to say the least. A mixed planting of both deciduous and evergreen trees (and shrubs!! shrubs often offer better and faster screening than do trees) will be visually far more interesting as well as offer increased wildlife attraction.

I'd get ahold of a copy of EB1579: Landscape Plants for the Inland Northwest from the WSU extension office or you can access it online. It's about 80 pages and a hard copy may come in handy if you are planning much landscaping. But if you can come back with answers to some of your site conditions outlined above, perhaps we can provide some more immediate suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 11:24AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Where in central or eastern Wa. do you live? That info can narrow it down a bit.
There is a long hedge of Pinus nigra alongside I-90 at George, Wa.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 11:56AM
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Try Western Juniper Juniperus occidentalis. Eastern WA native, so it'll cope perfectly with the climate, and good reasonably dense evergreen foliage.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 6:55PM
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