Planting A Few Leyland Cypress Trees For Added Privacy

Have we mentioned that our house has something lacking in the privacy department in certain areas? If not, consider this the first of several mentions. It’s nothing crazy, but coming from a home where we could practically strut around naked in the backyard (not that we did) to one where we can hardly go birthday suiting inside (not that we do) – let’s just say that we feel a bit exposed sometimes.

Case in point – our lovely “alley” (first mentioned here) which is a straight shot to our neighbor’s back deck (see their umbrella in the distance?).

The pic above is a bit old (from this post) and as you can see from the new pic below, nature has already helped us out in the filling-in department.

Though I still can’t help but feel slightly self-conscious at moments – like one recent night when the smoke detector next to the “alley” went off minutes after bedtime. Suddenly I found my boxer-clad self changing a faulty battery… while standing on a chair… in front of our floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors at night with the light on. Yeah, um, howdy neighbors.

So not being vertical blind or curtain closing people when it comes to all of the common areas in our house (we’re weird, but we like our sliding doors and big picture windows unobscured to let in light and it feels like too much maintenance to walk around covering them all every evening – at least to lazy bums like ourselves) we figured that a better way to functional and long term low-maintenance privacy would be to block that shared sight-line between our houses with some fast-growing easy-care evergreens. We do like white faux wood blinds for privacy in bedrooms btw, but I guess since we were both raised in curtains-always-open-in-the-living-area houses that relied on nice wooded neighborhoods for privacy, it’s no wonder that we’re attracted to open curtains and wooded neighborhoods full o’ privacy.

So that’s the goal. Adding in more of that “wooded” adjective. Sure it’ll take some time for these little trees to grow in, but it’ll hopefully be worth it in the long run (and we’ll remember to toss on clothes if we’ll be standing on chairs in front of the slider at midnight before that point).

When it comes to the specifics, we got three Leyland Cypress trees on sale from Home Depot for $9.99 each (interestingly, they were $19.99 at Lowe’s, so we saved thirty bucks total by shopping around). They’ve been recommended to us countless times by local gardeners because they’re 1) fast-growing, 2) evergreen, (so the won’t drop leaves and ruin our privacy in the winter), 3) can become quite large, and 4) are pretty easy-care and hardy. Basically, the privacy screen trifecta fourfecta. And by quite large I mean 30′ tall by 10-15′ wide. Pretty amazing, right?

We arranged them in a triangle of sorts, so that we could plant them at least ten to fifteen feet apart (as recommended by the tag) while making sure they each would layer behind and in front of one another (instead of growing into each other) to help densely block the view.

And after cutting out some dead boxwoods…

… and making friends with a frog (or is he a toad?)…

… I was ready to dig in our new Cypresses. With no help from my frog/toad friend, I might add. Make that former friend (he didn’t die or anything, he just doesn’t deserve friend status for not helping).

Through the magic of television the internet, here they are all dug in. Not much to look at yet, I’ll admit.

But hopefully with a bit of watering, more of these sunny days that we’ve been getting lately, and a bit of time, this trio will go from this…

…to this. Though in real life they hopefully won’t have the weird blue-tinted discoloration (I added that to make my photoshopping visible).

Oh, and that frog wasn’t the only woodland creature that I came upon during my tree planting adventure. Notice anything else?

Yep, that’s a plastic duck just chilling on a log in a bush. Another fun discovery left by the previous owners (like Norman the Mailbox Squirrel).

The funny thing is that finding a random duck on our property is almost like a sign that the house was meant for us. See, when we moved into our first house, the previous owner had left a fake duck head (yup, just the head) on one of our fence posts. Needless to say, it didn’t last long after this photo was snapped, but it did make us smile.

Guess there’s something to be said for a faux duck (or part of a faux duck) to make you feel at home. I just left the full-bodied duck right where I found him in that shrubbery. After all, if things go as planned with those Leyland Cypresses he won’t be able to spy on us for long. And Clara will probably love discovering him for herself in a year or two.

Have you guys ever planted any Leyland Cypresses – or another fast growing tree or bush – in the hopes of gaining some privacy? Do you just use vertical blinds and curtains like normal people? Have you ever found the head of a duck (or an entire faux duck) somewhere on your property? Are you friends with a frog (or do you someday hope to be)? So many questions, so little time.


  1. Jeanne says

    We have been planting arborvitae around our yard for privacy as well. They grow fast, aren’t horribly expensive and they don’t take up a lot of room. Our neighbors don’t seem to care much for privacy either, so I guess that leaves us to do all the work!

  2. Dayna says

    Those trees grow CRAZY fast. Good for you for actually following the directions on planting – I’ve seen so many people cram them together and then wonder what happened by the next season!

  3. Tammy says

    Hey John,

    We are shopping around for privacy trees for our yard too. Any idea how fast these babies will grow?


    • says

      We’ve heard they can grow up to 6′ per year. We’ll have to share photos as they grow to see if they’re holding up the whole fast-growing end of the bargain!


    • Renee says

      I don’t know where you live, (I’m in California) but my neighbors gifted us with a Paradise Tree last summer and the thing grows like a weed! It’s gone from 3 feet tall, to about 12 feet in less than a year. I’m on a small lot and we didn’t have any trees in the yard (well…except for the really nice tree the previous owners planted 5 feet off the patio. Unfortunately, it was tearing up the patio and soon the garage floor, we had to take it out.)

  4. says

    I remember when I lived in England for many years having the nightime and morning ritual of somoneone opening and closing all the heavy drapery that came with our house. They were heavy duty thick curtains with fancy pulley systems. In fact most houses in Europe have working shutters which they open and close each night!

  5. says

    That looks like a toad to me. :)

    I just planted a slew of evergreens this spring. It’s tough to be patient while they grow, but it’s nice to know that we’re getting there.

  6. says

    do your neighbors know you blog? if so, i bet they will be on the lookout for a boxer-clad john every evening! ha!
    i love the idea of natural privacy screens. once we get our new backyard cleaned up, we plan on planting some large trees/bushes/etc. for privacy as well as to define our property line.

    on a side note: i received a coupon code for mpix this morning that i figured i’d share:

    their metallic prints are 25% off now through June 29 – enter promo code “summercolor” and save on all Metallic prints

    • says

      Thanks for the tip! As for the neighbors, they do know we blog but I’m not sure they read (if so, hi guys!!!). Our house’s old owners definitely read though- which is really fun. They say they check in with us before they even check their own email. They love that we’re doing all the work and they get to see the result without breaking a sweat. Haha.


  7. says

    Great choice, they do grow super-quick.

    Unfortunately I now have a (sorry Sherry) not-so-nice image of John standing on a chair in boxers though. Please make it go away?

    • says

      Oh it’s a nice image. I’ve seen it. Haha. But you could try picturing your favorite movie character instead if you’d like (Robert Whatshisface? Brad Pitt?). I bet they change their own smoke alarm batteries, right?


    • says

      Right in the face of being awkward, I’d like to counter that this image is super nice in MY head… come on, Sherry and John are Hawt with a capital H. And without the abnormal LA Hawt that breeds orange skin and processed hair…Okay. ya. bringin the awkward. Backing away now…

  8. says

    My in-laws have a full-bodied faux mallard duck hanging upside down from the ceiling in their bathroom. It was there when they moved in, and we are all too afraid to remove it to see what it is covering. Very weird when using the restroom because it’s staring at you as it hangs upside down.

  9. Emma says

    I love the HD. $9.99 – what a great price! I need to plant some of those because I don’t have a green thumb. Perhaps they’d survive. One of the best things about evergreens is that they won’t make your raking job more difficult. Say hi to the frog for me :)

  10. Katy says

    Your little friend looks like an American toad. You can tell if he’s a boy by picking him up with one finger under each “armpit” — males will give a cute little chirpy “release call.” I’m sure he would have helped out if only he had some opposable thumbs. ;-)

    Hugs, your loyal reader/amphibian biologist :-)

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