I live in NJ and my house next to a daycare facility playground. Not only is there zero privacy, it also gets really noisy with the kids screaming all day. I am looking into the possibility of a living fence and am wondering what the best options are. Some suggestions given so far are Arborvitae, Cyprus, or Hemlock. We have already ruled out Arborvitae, because the deer apparently love to eat it.

Here are some things we are looking for and/or might be relevant: - 10 ft+ tall plants/trees - Area gets decent sunlight and doesn't flood - Looking for not only privacy but to lessen the sound - We have enough space to alternate & stagger plants/trees if needed

Any help would greatly be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


List of sound barrier type plants:

Trees: Acer platanoides varieties: Cleveland, Columnare, Globosum, Olmsted. Acer pseudoplatanus varieties: Atropurpureum (Spaethii), Erectum. Ailanthus altissima. Carpinus betulus Fastigiata. Platanus hispanica. Populus varieties. Prunus laurocerasus in variety. Pterocarva fraxinifolia. Quercus ilex. Sorbus aucuparia variety thibetica John Mitchell. Tilia americana.

Shrubs: Ilex. Rhododendron. Viburnum rhytidophyllum.

Conifers: X Cupressocyparis leylandii. Pinus in Variety especially P. radiata. Taxus Baccata. Thuya plicata Atrovirens.

notes some of the above are poisonous and male form can be found to avoid berries like the Taxus and Ilex's for example -thinking kids here! but its up to you to find whatever is locally available and i'm sure that you can compromise on exact varieties listed here for something similiar and just as nice.


It sounds like you want a privacy screen and a sound barrier now rather than five years from now when any plantings will have a chance to fill in. Unless you have a large budget and can buy large caliber specimens a fence will provide the most effective solution.

Let's do some rough calculations which do not account for local pricing and should only be taken as an indication.

Assume you have a forty foot length you wish to shield. The white pine, Pinus strobus is commonly available and less expensive than some alternatives. It is about twenty feet wide at maturity but if you bring in large specimens that have a burlapped root ball in a wire basket they will sit for a number of years while they make themselves at home.

The largest size I see available is 400 cm tall (about thirteen feet) in a wire basket. So with four trees in two staggered rows plus some heavy machinery you have the job done in a day or so. However this could easily cost $1000 to $1500 a tree installed for a price of $6000. Also, at maturity the four trees occupy an area about thirty feet wide.

Compare this to just one of your local fencing suppliers, of which New Jersey seems to have in abundance. Vinyl fence in eight foot sections that is six feet tall can probably be installed for $300 per section. You need five sections for a cost of about $1500 to $2000.

This same price differential between trees and fences is true in most parts of the world. There is always a tradeoff between time, money and usefulness. You can put small trees in and it won't cost much but you won't have privacy or a sound barrier for five years or more. Or you can put large trees in but it will cost much more.

The optimum solution is put a fence in yourself using pre built panels and take the money you save to plant some small trees outside the fence.

Please provide some more information on your local soil types and whether you want an evergreen or a tree with leaves and we can work some more on this.

  • 2
    What about bamboo - might need a rhizome root barrier, but it forms an effective barrier pretty quickly, if it'll grow where you are.
    – Bamboo
    Mar 12, 2013 at 12:56
  • Bamboo is fast growing, but wherever I've seen it (Costa Rica, Texas), it has been an invasive species.
    – winwaed
    Mar 12, 2013 at 14:10
  • We would love to put up a fence, but here is the problem. Our town has strict rules on fencing. Privacy fences must be 20 ft from the property line and if you have a fence on a "street side" of your property, it can only be 4 ft tall. So, yes, putting up a fence would be ideal, but it just isn't feasible. Due to this, we have been pigeon-holed into buying a living fence. The pictures on Wiki of the Pinus Strobus don't make them look very full/dense. Is that just a bad picture?
    – bszen27
    Mar 12, 2013 at 15:48
  • I wish I knew. I am noob in terms of landscraping. My wife and I just bought our first house and are basically clueless. I would say that the soil conditions are just about average moisture. Not sure how to describe soil.
    – bszen27
    Mar 12, 2013 at 15:48
  • @Bamboo, you would suggest that :) but in my experience you running bamboo doesn't respect lines, and clumping bamboo would just require a lot, and temperate clumping bamboo's tend to look bad for 4-6 months out of the year. Mar 12, 2013 at 20:17

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