Holiday Evergreens: Double Down on Privacy

by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener

Now is the time to plant privacy screens for maximum growth and seclusion in spring.

Without strategically placed evergreens in the yard, it can feel as if prying eyes are looking right into your home. Not only does your privacy seemingly disappear, but that neighbor’s debris pile can be on view! Enable enjoyable hot tub sessions without prying eyes from that too-close-for-comfort neighbor.

The solution to these unwanted invasions is not rocket science. Simply plant a wall of living trees and shrubs to block an undesirable view and create the privacy you desire.

To successfully add evergreens to a landscape, several essential steps are worthy of your time and energy. The most crucial requirement for trees to thrive is drainage. Blend one shovel full of mulch into every three shovels full of native earth to pack around each root. Feed new plants with plant food right after planting. The cottonseed meal in our natural food promotes robust root formation while maintaining good foliage color. Lastly, deep soak each plant with a solution of Root & Grow. This specially designed compost tea encourages new roots that grow deep and strong.

When you’re ready to choose the trees for your living wall of green, read through these popular choices of local screening plants that fill in fast.

Arizona Cypress

My favorite native evergreen screener is the Arizona cypress. It is like a giant alligator juniper in size and color but grows faster and fills in more thoroughly than other screening plants. Growing to more than 20-feet tall and 12-feet wide in just a few years, you can see why this is the No. 1 choice for a planted screen.

Colorado Spruce

Very cold-hardy, this spruce is the perfectly symmetrical Christmas tree shape. Excellent choice for a front yard holiday tree or as a semi-formal accent in a large yard. It makes a pretty evergreen background against contrasting foliage colors, flowering shrubs or highlighting changing leaves. Line up several for a windbreak or to quickly diffuse lights and sounds along busy streets.

Deodar Cedar

This is the largest screening plant, growing to more than 50-feet tall and 20-feet wide. It is one of the fastest-growing of the screens, growing 2 to 3 feet every year. This cedar thrives on low water use, drought conditions and drip irrigation; as is true with most upright evergreens. Make sure to give it plenty of growing space because with its long, swooping branches of Arizona Blue foliage, this tree is going to need it!


Let’s look at the juniper family. Spartan, Blue Point and Wichita are on the extensive list of junipers available at Watters Garden Center now. Juniper forests surround us, so be assured junipers are naturals to add to a landscape. Whichever color and height you like, all grow well in this part of the world.

Austrian Pine

This handsome evergreen tree has a densely branched conical form when young that becomes umbrella-shaped with age. Needles are long and dark green. Tolerates poor soils and harsh, drying winds. A great conifer for windbreaks or used as large landscape specimens.

There are many more choices, such as the larger evergreen shrubs and deciduous trees like aspens. However, we’ll discuss those varieties another time.