Hi, I’m landscape architect Mary Deweese, principal of Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri. I design gardens and landscapes and I’m frequently asked what trees are good in narrow spaces, to provide privacy without taking up a lot of lateral space. This is a list of some of my most trusted columnar (tall and skinny) trees. These all work well as a single specimen but they can all also be planted close together for a tall privacy screen hedge.
Click on the name of the plant to open a new window with detailed information and photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University or other trusted source.
1. Kindred Spirit Oak - Quercus x warei ‘Nadler’ - a great narrow oak that only grows about 6′ wide but gets over 30′ tall.
2. Armstrong Red Maple Acer x Freemanii ‘Armstrong’ - this is one you see planted in many parkways and parking lots. You see them there because they are reliable in harsh conditions but have a great narrow form that not only provides privacy when planted close together in a row like a hedge, but stays narrow and upright as to not interfere with driveways and cars.
3. Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’ – I love the texture and shape of this cypress. It looks like an evergreen but it sheds it’s needles in winter, hence the ‘bald’ part of it’s name. Really does well if you have a wetter area.
4. Green Giant Arborvitae – Thuja ‘Green Giant’ – this is a wonderful screening evergreen that stays relatively slim. It needs consistent moisture and mostly full sun for best performance.
5. Sky Tower Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba ’JN9′ SKY TOWER - I love Ginkgo’s because of their unique leaf shape and bright yellow color. This is a great columnar variety. Ginkgo’s tend to be awkward or uneven looking when young (like an awkward teenage phase), but as they mature they become more regular and even shaped.