Thuja wall on sunny day


What Makes A Good Zone 3 Privacy Tree

Do your neighbours have a front row seat to your living space?  It may be time to recruit a few yard friends to help out. A well planned and executed live barrier can be an ideal sound and site buffer in the increasingly less private city yard. You know what they say about good fences…

So, what characteristics make for an ideal living privacy screen?

  • Hardy and fast growing
    • Nobody wants to wait 10-15 years before they can enjoy the benefits of their trees. And once established, you don’t want to worry about a lot of maintenance or dead plants disrupting the effect.
  • Dense, aesthetically pleasing foliage
  • year-round benefits
    • In a climate where deciduous trees are generally bare more than half the year; you need plants that stay on the job all 12 months.
  • Small to medium size
    • for the same reason you wouldn’t build a 40′ tall fence, a living privacy screen reaching that stature adds considerable long-term effort, with no additional utility.

When these factors are considered as a whole you can see why the typical “go to” (namely; aspens and Colorado spruce), are actually generally poor privacy creation choices.

The following trees exhibit all these traits as well as bring a little distinct flavour of their own to the party. 

We advise using a combination of these trees together in your privacy barrier, to create a more resilient and character filled scape (if a disease or climate factor damages the one species some of your wall will still be intact.) 

Shoot us a call or text (780) 266-1919 to enquire about purchasing and installing any trees on this list 👍

Holmstrup Cedar / Arborvitae

Bred to be relatively hardy, the Holmstrup cedar is a long-time favourite for northern live fences. A standout in every item on our privacy screen checklist, as well as a truly beautiful plant in its own right, The Holmstrup Cedar (Other arborvitae cultivars also suitable) is the bread and butter of hedge fences.

It should be noted that although Holmstrup is a hardy cedar, cedars do tend to be fairly fickle in the Alberta climate. Favouring more mild coastal winters.

Tip: Be mindful of the spacing when planting cedar hedges. Placing the trees too close will lead to permanent naked spots down the road. The longer wait for the privacy effect will be well worth it. Recommended spacing is between 36″-72″ depending on the species. 

5 gallon- $104.99 / 15 gallon $249.99


beautiful flowers, thick glossy foliage, and very hardy. Reaching 6-10′ tall at maturity and boasting dense, rapid growth foliage; cotoneaster are ideal privacy plants.

Like caraganas, these plants require little care and tolerate just about any conditions. A real hedge classic.










Late Lilac

As the name implies; the Late Lilac flowers appear in mid-late June, when other lilac flowers have already finished. This makes it a great choice when designing a yard with maximum seasonal splendour. 

The crowded spaghetti like nature of the plant is also a favourite home for small birds. With dozens of sparrows in a single bush being a common site.










Caragana bushes are the plant that keeps on giving. Remarkably hardy, loves to grow dense foliage, fragrant yellow flowers (a favourite of bees), creates a pea like vegetable (completely edible), and being a legume; also fixes nitrogen in the soil enriching neighbouring plants!

Its showy gold bark makes it an eye catcher year round, you really can’t beat it!

10 gallon pot – $174.99 / 15 gallon pot – $244.99

Columnar Mugo Pine

Green year-round, full foliage, harder to kill than a rock; its difficult to find a better privacy tree solution than the Columnar Mogul Pine. 

Not the growth habit we’ve all come to expect in a mogul pine, this personally variant on the Alberta yard favourite is perfectly suited for live walls. Not only is it tolerant of virtually all soils and draught, but it’s not picky about shade either (although in our colder climate full sun is preferable.)

5 gallon – $149.99 / 10 gallon $189.99

Columnar Norway Spruce or Inversa Norway Spruce

The Columnar Norway Spruce (columnar simply referring to any cultivar with a slender upward habit) has a robust list of distinct characteristics that lend perfectly to privacy screen trees, although it tends to get overlooked for this job. With dense, year-round foliage, and an extremely well-behaved upward growth habit; the Columnar Norway Spruce is all the benefit with virtually no effort. You don’t even need to prune it!

*Note: The key to an effective spruce privacy screen is proper spacing, as overcrowding will lead to bare limbs.

For more info on the columnar Norways playful cousin, the “Inversa” checkout our article here.

1.75M – $368.99 / 3.0M $558.99

Wichita Blue Juniper

Who said evergreen plants had to be…well, green?

The Wichita Blue Juniper is a refreshing divergence from the typical, green-washed privacy screen. Growing about 15′ tall with a 6′ spread this sun loving Alberta hardy hedge, was cultivated to have exceptional living fence attributes. 

Although often confused with cedars, the Juniper if actually an arid (almost desert) plan, that fairs much better with wind exposure and drought.


Alberta Spruce

A popular cultivar the continent over, Albertans can be proud to make a home in their yard for this unique little fellah. Although relatively slow growing at just a couple inches a year, the mature 12′ tall Alberta Spruce is well worth the wait. Look for a larger one from your local tree farm if you don’t want to wait.

The dense fuzzy appearing needles of the Alberta Spruce make it an excellent candidate for natural privacy. The dense foliage also makes this plant the sculpting clay of the spruce family. If started early the Alberta Spruce can be molded into just about any shape the craftsman desires.

Dappled Willow

The Dappled Willow breaks the rules by not offering year round foliage, but I think it makes up for it with its coral red trunk display it flaunts in lieu of leaves in the winter (most people spend less time in their yard in the winter anyway and have less need for privacy)

The dappled willow feature a remarkably dense collage of creamy white, pink, and green leaves in spring through summer, making it a stunning firework-esque yard display.

If you have any questions about assembling your collage of bushy fence substitutes, the experts at Edmonton Arborist are always happy to help! Just shoot us a call, text, email, or fill out the contact form on the right.

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