Are you looking to cover up an unsightly view or create some privacy in your garden as quickly as possible? Instead of going to the expense of erecting an unsightly fence, cheap fast growing privacy trees are the perfect choice for creating a natural barrier around your outdoor space.
There are many advantages to choosing trees over a fence – not only are they more aesthetically pleasing, but they also create a home for nature, providing vital food for visiting wildlife.
So, if you don’t want to wait for years and years for your privacy hedge to grow, we’ve got a wide variety of the fastest-growing budget-friendly trees that will provide a long-lasting and beautiful backdrop to your relaxing outdoor space.
- 13 Budget-Friendly Fast Growing Privacy Trees
- 1. Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata)
- 2. Sky Pencil Holly (Ilex crenata)
- 3. Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
- 4. Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
- 5. Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens')
- 6. River Birch (Betula nigra)
- 7. Wavy Leaf Ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum 'Recurvifolium')
- 8. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
- 9. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
- 10. Carolina Sapphire Cypress (Cupressus arizonica ‘Glabra’)
- 11. Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
- 12. Spartan Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’)
- 13. Hicks Yew (Taxus x media 'Hicksii')
- Wrapping Up
13 Budget-Friendly Fast Growing Privacy Trees
Some of the best cheap fast growing privacy trees include red cedar, river birch, weeping willow, loblolly pine, hydrangea, and spartan juniper trees. However, there are many low-cost, fast growing trees suitable for providing privacy in your yard.
Now, we’re not saying that these trees will shoot up in a matter of weeks, but by selecting the fastest-growing varieties, you will definitely get faster results!
All of the trees on our list are low budget and have a vigorous growth habit, perfect for filling spaces quickly or creating a privacy screen.
One thing to bear in mind with fast-growing trees is that they won’t necessarily stop when they get to your desired height. Check the average mature height of the trees you are planting, and be prepared to do a little bit of pruning and maintenance now and again if necessary.
Ready to start choosing the best type of tree for a fast growing privacy screen? Let’s go!
1. Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata)
When it comes to cheap fast-growing trees, you can’t get much better than the incredible Thuja Green Giant for privacy! This evergreen tree can grow 3-5 feet taller every year until it reaches its mature height of 40 – 50 feet tall. It grows in an attractive pyramidal shape, creating the perfect privacy hedge and windbreak.
As well as being one of the fastest-growing trees for privacy you can find, Green Giant Arborvitae is also incredibly resilient.
Thuja Green Giants will need watering regularly for the first year or so, but after this, they will take care of themselves.
And to top it all off, one Thuja Green Giant generally goes for between $3.00 to $20 depending on the age of the tree and whether you choose to purchase the trees in bulk (here’s a link to the best price I could find).
2. Sky Pencil Holly (Ilex crenata)
Sky Pencil Holly is a beautiful evergreen privacy shrub that will rapidly form a dense branching hedge of dark green foliage. Unlike other holly trees, this variety has glossy leaves without any sharp points, so you don’t need to worry about those nasty spikes!
These trees are very easy to come by, and they go for around $4.00 to $20.00 per tree, depending on whether you buy them in bulk or not. Talk about a deal!
Also known as Japanese Holly, this vigorous tree grows rapidly until it reaches its mature size of around 10 feet tall. It remains relatively narrow, spreading out to just 2-3 feet wide, and will grow best in zones 6-9.
Sky Pencil Holly prefers well-drained soil that is slightly acidic and will need watering regularly for a few months after planting.
3. Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Red Cedar, also known as Eastern Red Cedar, is a fast-growing evergreen juniper tree that provides dense green foliage and small bluish berries that attract wildlife.
Not only will Red Cedar trees provide you with fast growing privacy, but this graceful ( and cheap) conifer can also be used to create a very effective windbreak. This hardy tree thrives in a wide range of climates and is ideal for zones 2 through 9, and each tree will only cost you around $5 when you buy in bulk.
An Eastern Red Cedar will grow up to 18 inches per year, rapidly reaching 30 to 40 feet in height. If desired, it can be maintained at lower heights through regular pruning and shaping. In fact, this tree is a very popular bonsai!
4. Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
This fast-growing evergreen conifer is a popular choice in landscaping schemes, and it is easy to see why!
Emerald Green Arborvitae bears vibrant green needles all year round, making it ideal as a privacy screen or windbreak. While some American Arborvitae can reach heights that are too tall for urban gardens, this low-maintenance tree is just 12 to 15 feet high and up to 4 feet wide when mature.
In terms of its rate of growth, Emerald Green Thuja will grow steadily for the first year or two while it establishes a strong root system.
After this, it will speed up significantly, with 1 – 2 feet of annual growth. It is also more drought tolerant than many other Thuja varieties and is hardy in zones 3 through 8.
The only drawback is that it’s not dirt cheap. It’s common to find pre-established Emerald Green Arborvitae Trees for around $20 per tree. The price hike is due to the fact that these trees are slow growers at the start.
5. Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’)
Nellie Stevens Holly is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub that forms an elegant pyramid tree shape. Its wide and fast growing habits mean that fewer trees can be used to create a dense privacy barrier, and at just around $3 to $20, it’s one of the cheapest options.
This fast-growing holly can increase in height by up to three feet per year – now that’s pretty impressive! Especially considering the low, low price of only around $3.00 per tree when you buy in bulk!
When mature, Nellie Stevens Holly will reach heights of up to 30 feet. Planting young trees 5-6 feet apart will guarantee a dense hedge of lush evergreen foliage, creating a barrier that not only gives you privacy but also blocks out wind, dust, and noise.
6. River Birch (Betula nigra)
Fun fact – the River Birch was named Urban Tree of the Year in 2002 by the Society of Municipal Arborists!
The reason this regal tree is so popular is not just that it grows quickly, but it also looks beautiful in both urban and rural settings. A key feature is the distinctive peeling bark texture, with an outer layer of silver-white bark that peels away to reveal a deep red inner layer.
River Birch trees form multiple narrow trunks, creating a lush landscape of glossy green foliage.
They grow at a rate of 1 to 2 feet per year and, when mature, stand between 40 and 70 feet tall with a 60-foot tree canopy. They also generally only cost around $16 when you buy them in bulk!
River Birch is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and will bear long strands of seeds in the spring, which provide essential food for birds and insects.
7. Wavy Leaf Ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum ‘Recurvifolium’)
Also known as Curly Leaf Japanese Privet or Crinkle Leaf, this delightful variety of privet thrives in hot, dry climates, particularly in zones 7 to 11.
It bears lustrous wavy green leaves all year round and flowers in spring with a delightful display of delicate white blooms.
Ideal for planting in full sun or partial shade in most soil conditions, these evergreen bushes have a mature height of around 15 feet. They have an incredibly fast growth rate and can double in size every year under the right conditions.
The dense foliage of a privet hedge makes an excellent windbreak, but it will require some annual maintenance to keep it at a manageable size.
Speaking of size, you won’t need many of these privets to gain some privacy, which is great news for your budget. This cheap, fast growing privacy tree will only run you about $5 to $30 per trunk, which is nothing to complain about.
Note: Curly Leaf Japanese Privet is considered to be invasive in some zones, and the berries are also toxic to dogs. A good alternative is North Privet, which grows rapidly to create a dense green color privacy hedge.
8. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Willow trees are ideal for not only creating privacy in your garden but also for providing a shady area for you to enjoy on sunny days.
One of my favorite willow cultivars is the famous Weeping Willow, a tall tree that bears a wide canopy of wispy foliage that rustles invitingly in the breeze. This well-formed shade tree will grow well in moist soil in zones 4 to 10, which is why it is often found near rivers and streams.
Weeping Willows grow rapidly during the first few years, quickly creating a screen of dense foliage on flowy branches to give privacy and shade. When mature, these deciduous trees can reach up to 50 feet in height and width, making them a popular choice for landscaping large areas.
However, weeping willow trees, with their immense trunks and grand canopy, can come at a higher cost per tree of around $15 to $75, depending on the tree’s maturity. While this may seem more expensive, you are truly getting more tree and coverage for your buck with this variety.
If full-size Weeping Willow trees are too big for your yard, there are some great willow hybrids available that reach a more manageable height. A good option is the Blue Arctic Willow hybrid (Salix purpurea), which has a shrub-like upright growth habit and will form an 8-foot-high deciduous hedge in just two years.
9. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
The second most common tree in the United States, after the maple, is the Loblolly Pine. This evergreen coniferous tree reaches awe-inspiring heights with its mighty growth rate, perfect if you need to block off the view of an unsightly building or industrial area!
When fully grown, Loblolly Pines are 40 to 90 feet tall, with a spread of 25 to 35 feet.
As one of America’s most-loved trees, this magnificent giant is not too fussy in terms of planting sites, but it does require at least four hours of full sun per day. As with all pine trees, they have high drought tolerance when mature but need regular watering for the first year or two to keep the soil moist.
Additionally, they are very inexpensive and easy to come by for around $3.00 to $40 per trunk, depending on the tree’s age.
Loblolly Pines are relatively narrow in their growth habit and will lose the lower branches as they grow taller.
For a more sprawling green landscape option, the Eastern White Pine is worth considering. Bear in mind that these beautiful trees will reach heights of 80 feet or more, so make sure you’ve got plenty of space before committing to this giant of a tree!
10. Carolina Sapphire Cypress (Cupressus arizonica ‘Glabra’)
If you’ve always thought of cypress trees as a bit boring, this delightful evergreen variety might just change your might!
The Carolina Sapphire Cypress boasts fragrant foliage, which has a beautiful silver-blue color all year round. The reddish bark of the trunk and branches contrasts nicely with the needle-like leaves, creating a visually attractive privacy screen.
This charming tree is also very low maintenance, maintaining a symmetrical shape which makes pruning unnecessary. It will grow up to three feet per year in a variety of soil types in zones 6 to 9 and is remarkably heat and drought-tolerant.
Mature trees stand around 15-25 feet high, but they tolerate regular pruning well and can even be grown in a large container.
Carolina Sapphire Cypress trees are a bit tricky to find, but they are usually pretty cheap, going for around $5 to $60, depending on how old the tree is.
11. Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
Surprised to see the well-known Hydrangea on a list of fast growing privacy trees? Whilst normally grown as an ornamental shrub, this popular floral wonder is often overlooked as a versatile hedging plant!
Choosing the perfect Hydrangea tree can be daunting, but for a privacy screen, look for panicle hydrangeas, such as ‘Limelight’, that have a tall, bushy growth habit.
Another excellent choice is one of the climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea Petiolaris), which can be used to cover trellises, fences, and walls.
The joy of this fast-growing shrub is that there is one to suit every situation, from shady damp corners with wet soil through to sun-soaked, warmer regions with very little rain. Evergreen varieties will provide privacy all year round, and you’ll also get to enjoy a stunning display of fragrant puffy flowers throughout the summer months.
As another bonus, you can find hydrangeas for sale at pretty much any garden center or online retailer for only around $5 to $40 for a gallon pot.
12. Spartan Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’)
This elegant Chinese Juniper has dense green foliage, which forms a symmetrical cone shape, making it the perfect choice for a low-maintenance privacy screen.
This dramatic tree quickly reaches its mature height of 10 to 15 feet, and if spaced two feet apart, will create a dense mesh of distinctive foliage that block out noise, wind, dust, and prying eyes.
Spartan Jupiter is very cold-hardy and will grow well in cold climates such as zones 4 to 9.
It thrives in full sun and will grow well even in nutrient-depleted soil as long as it has good drainage. Regular watering in the first growing season will help promote deep root growth.
Spartan Juniper is a little tricky to find, but it’s a cheaper variety of juniper, going for around $15 to $70 for a sapling.
13. Hicks Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)
If you live in a cooler Northern region, Hicks Yew is the ideal tree for a privacy hedge that won’t grow out of control. It thrives in North America zones 4 to 7, is drought tolerant when established, and rarely has any issues with pests or diseases.
With a mature height of 10 to 15 feet, Hicks Yew is one of the best shrubs for privacy, which also helps to block strong winds. The small, heart-shaped leaves are evergreen, giving year-round color, and the plant bears bright red berries through the winter months.
Young Hicks Yew saplings are super cheap, going for around $10 a pop. However, more mature trees cost closer to $40.
In the quest for privacy, our trusty band of 13 speedy green warriors has not only shielded us from the inquisitive gazes of the neighborhood, but they’ve also taught us a thing or two about growth!
As we enjoy the newfound seclusion and the delightful dance of leaves in the wind, let’s remember that trees are truly miraculous – and they can offer us everything we could ever need!