The Best Native Evergreen Trees For Privacy

A common practice in the suburbs and towns is to try to gain some privacy from the neighbors by building a fence or planting a hedge. There are many examples of non-native hedges built with boxwood or other species. But what if I told you that you can actually do this by just using evergreen native plants? Yes, there are a large number of natives that can be used for privacy screening.

Some species can be allowed to grow fully to block a large viewing lane (Loblolly Pine), or you can plant them very close together to keep them shorter and make a more dense, living fence (Holly, White Cedar, or Arborvitae). But, I’ve compiled a large number of native evergreen species that can be utilized for a natural, native privacy screen for your yard.

A great arborvitae privacy screen! I just hope they fertilize that little guy in the middle!

White Cedar

The Northern White Cedar is the parent species of the aforementioned Arborvitae. Several moth species are hosted by it’s leaves, while numerous birds and even squirrels will eat the seeds from it’s tiny cones. Able to grow in a wide variety of conditions, it’s only drawback is that it doesn’t tolerate drought or shade very well. But, if you are using it for privacy screening or a windbreak, the shade shouldn’t be a problem.

I have planted a row of these between mine and my neighbors house. Back in the Spring of 2017 I purchased them as 2-3′ tall bare roots, and as of 2024 I can say they are well over 10′ tall.

Common NameWhite Cedar
SpeciesThuja occidentalis
USDA zones3-7
Growth RateFast 1-2′ per year
SunFull sun to part-sun
MoistureMoist to meidum-moist
Drought toleranceLow
Soil TextureSandy loam to clay
This is my row of Northern White Cedar trees.

Emerald Giant Arborvitae

Within the White Cedar section, I must include a note about the Arborvitae, which is a cultivar of White Cedar. Arguably the most popular of all privacy trees, the Arborvitae is famous for having a nice shape, fast growth rate, and being very adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions. Used as privacy screens all across suburbia and beyond, you are most likely familiar with this tree! While not necessarily a ‘straight-native’ species, this variety will provide cover and shelter for many birds. If you’re looking for a fast growing privacy screen, you can’t beat the Arborvitae (But Eastern Red Cedar is close!).

Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)

Native to the Eastern United States, the Atlantic White Cedar grows from USDA zones 3-9, reaches heights of 50-70′, grows best near water with poor draining soil. Having a handsome conical or pyramidal shape it looks great as a privacy screen. Hosting larvae for several insects, it also provides cover to wildlife in winter and shelter in high winds.

While still being a good screen for larger areas, it also breaks up the monotony of so many Arborvitae, but still allows you to have a cedar.

Common NameAtlantic White Cedar
SpeciesChamaecyparis thyoides
USDA Zones
Growth RateMedium, 1′ / year
SunFull sun
Drought toleranceLow
Soil TextureSand to loam

Eastern Red Cedar

Of all evergreens native to Eastern North America, Eastern Red Cedar is the most drought tolerant. Found along fence rows in pastures to dry, limestone cliffs – this native is adaptable. Home to larvae of several insects, the berries from female specimens are beloved by birds in the winter.

Common NameEastern Red Cedar
SpeciesJuniperus virginiana
USDA Zones2-9
Growth RateFast, 2′ per year
SunFull sun
Drought toleranceVery high
Soil TextureSandy loam-clay loam

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

A semi-evergreen, this native will lose some of it’s leaves in Winter. But not before turning a dark orange/bronze color. Growing upwards of 70-90′ in full sun and moist soil, this tree produces some of the most interesting cones of all conifers (they look like small planets). But this tree supports caterpillars of several caterpillars. Several large birds use it for nesting, while smaller birds and squirrels will feed on the seed within the cones.

The bark and bark ‘feet’ can give this tree a very unique appearance. And although you’ve seen them portrayed in the movies in swamps, they can be perfectly home in a yard that doesn’t totally dry out.

Common NameBald Cypress
SpeciesTaxodium distichum
USDA Zones
Growth RateFast, 1-2’/year
SunFull sun
Drought toleranceMedium
Soil TextureSandy-loam to clay
Bald Cypress tree

American Holly

A tree we all associate with Christmas, American Holly is a beloved evergreen native that can brighten up a yard for all seasons. Typically growing up to 50′ tall in the open, trees are monoecious, meaning they are either male or female. And, both need to be present for females to produce berries.

Note – the picture at right is in my yard. I use it to block the street from seeing past my garage to my backyard. It is about 12′ tall and wide as of now, and doing great. The bees love the flowers in Summer, and birds do eat the berries (and occasionally build nests).

Common NameAmerican Holly
SpeciesIlex opaca
USDA Zones5-9
Growth RateSlow, < 1′ per year
SunFull sun to shade
MoistureSlightly moist to slightly dry
Drought toleranceMedium
Soil TextureWell drained

Loblolly Pine

One of the larger native evergreens, it is also one of the fastest growers. Loblolly Pine can be used for wind and privacy screenings in residential areas with large yards and plenty of space. Growing fast, it begins life with a pyramidal crown that develops into a more full oval shape with age.

For wildlife it will provide cover and nesting for birds, and hosts caterpillars of several moths. Deer will occasionally browse the foliage too.

A dwarf cultivar, ‘nana’ is available for those wanting a more compact privacy screen. You can still have all the wildlife benefits but only a fraction of the size.

Common NameLoblolly Pine, Oldfield Pine, Yellow Pine
SpeciesPinus taeda
USDA Zones6-9
Growth RateFast, > 2′ per year
SunFull sun
MoistureSlightly moist to slightly dry
Drought toleranceGood
Soil TextureSand to clay. Well-draining.

Virginia Pine

Virginia Pine has a large native range covering much of the eastern half of North America from Mississippi to New York. It grows at a decent pace, at roughly 1-2′ per year and has a pyramidal shape when young that will become more wide at the top as it ages. Very mature specimens look amazing in the open, and densely packed plantings can make an effective windbreak for large yards.

This plant is deer resistant, but it will attract birds who eat the seeds. Additionally it hosts caterpillars of several moth species, which further attracts birds.

Common NameJersey Pine Possum Pine Scrub Pine Spruce Pine Virginia Pine
SpeciesPinus virginiana
USDA Zones4-8
Growth RateMedium, 1′-2′ per year
SunFull sun
MoistureMedium to dry
Drought toleranceHigh
Soil TextureSand, loam, clay

White Pine

A larger evergreen, it can be used for privacy as a specimen or screen in a large yard. It grows fast, and will perform best in cool & humid climates. Hosting several caterpillars, many bird species nest in the tree, and various mammals eat the cones and foliage. Like other large specimens, if planted close together and carefully pruned, white pine can make an excellent privacy hedge.

What is nice about White Pine is the soft needles, fast growth rate, and how adaptable it is for growing conditions. Also, it has one of the wider native ranges that can be grown from the Southern United States North to Canada.

Common NameWhite Pine
SpeciesPinus strobus
USDA Zones3-8
Growth RateFast, 2′ per year
SunFull sun to part shade
MoistureMoist to Medium
Drought toleranceGood
Soil TextureSand to loam, well-drained

Balsam Fir

For northern, moist climates, Balsam Fir can make a handsome privacy screen of Christmas Tree shaped evergreens. Growing best in well-drained but moist to medium moist soils, it can add one foot in height per year. Several dwarf and other varieties are available.

It’s primary value for wildlife is in the form of cover for larger animals, and food in the deepest parts of winter (leaves, seed, bark). But one should not attempt to grow this in dry soils – moisture is key!

Common NameBalsam Fir
SpeciesAbies balsamea
USDA Zones3-6
Growth RateMedium, 1’/year
SunFull sun to part-sun
MoistureMoist to medium
Drought toleranceLow
Soil TextureSand to loam, well-drained

White Fir

Native to the Western United States, White Fir can reach upwards of 70′ in proper growing conditions when it has lots of space. Birds (particularly grouse) will utilize the tree for nesting and cover, protected by it’s needles. Several cultivars and varieties have been developed such as ‘Blue Cloak’ and ‘Compacta’ for the needle color and size.

Common NameWhite Fir
SpeciesAbies concolor
USDA Zones4-7
Growth RateMedium
SunFull sun to part sun
MoistureMoist to medium
Drought toleranceMedium
Soil TextureWell draining sand to loam

White Spruce

Frequently used as a Christmas tree, the White Spruce has dense branching, pyramidal shape when young, and soft needles. As it ages it will form a tall, narrow, and dense cylindrical/conical shape. And as far as evergreens, this one can take a drought!

Numerous cultivars are available for various situations. While these cultivars could interfere with wildlife use, they should still be able to provide suitable nesting sites and cover for birds if nothing else.

Common NameWhite Spruce
SpeciesPicea glauca
USDA Zones2-6
Growth Rate<1’/year
SunFull sun to part sun
MoistureMoist to dry
Drought toleranceGood
Soil TextureSandy-loam to clay-loam

Eastern Spruce

Native from the mountains of North Carolina to Canada, the Eastern Spruce forms a handsome pyramidal shape. Best grown in full sun and moist conditions, it grows a bit slower than other evergreens on this list. Valuable to birds for nesting, it’s dense foliage provides nice cover. While other mammals eat the twigs and seed in winter. And finally, it does host several caterpillars.

Common NameEastern Spruce, Red Spruce
SpeciesPicea rubens
USDA Zones2-6
Growth Rate<1’/yr
SunFull sun to full shade
MoistureMoist to medium
Drought toleranceModerate
Soil TextureSand to clay

Find more native trees here


[1] – Burns, Russell M. Silvics of north America. No. 654. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 1990.

[2] – USDA Native Plants Database.

Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over 10 years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! You may have seen some of my videos I create on our YouTube channel, GrowitBuildit (more than 10 million views!). You can find my channel here: Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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