Landscape Design: Is Leyland Cypress Your Best Bet for Privacy?

Gardeners who want to hide an undesirable view, create privacy, or add curb appeal often use the fast-growing Leyland cypress in their landscapes­. This popular tree grows two to three feet a year and creates a thick hedge of limbs and leaves. But the Leyland cypress may not be your best choice for screening, because it needs lots of care to stay healthy. There are other, lower-maintenance plants you can choose for your landscape that will still hide the neighbors and create a desirable sense of privacy in your garden.

Leyland cypress trees get sick easily. According to scientists, at North Carolina State University, diseases like bot canker and Seridium canker are becoming more common in Leyland cypresses. Part of the problem is that people tend to plant the cypresses too close together. In a tight spot and without proper air flow, disease can spread easily from tree to tree.

These cypresses are planted too close together. The brown patches indicate the trees are sick.

Browning on Leyland Cypress Browning on Leyland Cypress

If you decide to plant Leyland cypresses, make sure you space them at least ten feet apart in a sunny, well-drained spot. Because these cypresses have shallow, or “fibrous,” roots that grow near the surface they respond more quickly to fertilizer. On the down-side, their shallow roots mean they’re more susceptible to drought, so be sure to give your Leyland cypresses at least ¾” to 1” of water per week. For even more information on these trees, check out this article from the University of Georgia Extension.

To plant a privacy barrier, choose a plant that grows to the height you need and no more. There are a lot of trees and large shrubs you can plant as screens in sunny locations:

  • Foster holly.
  • Mary Nell holly.
  • Nellie R. Stephens holly.
  • Burford holly.
  • Native American holly
  • Native wax myrtle.
  • Native cherry laurel.

The best trees and large shrubs for screens in shady areas are:

  • Native Florida anise.
  • Native Carolina cherry laurel

We also have provided a list of large privacy screen trees.

North Georgia homeowners can contact the landscape experts at Art of Stone Gardening and landscape service to learn the best trees and shrubs to beautify your landscape – and hide the neighbors!

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