5 Best Holly Trees For Privacy (With Photos)

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Privacy is one of the most important things every man desires in a home. Most times, people cherish the ability to sit on their porches or host backyard events without intrusion from neighbors

You can trust trees to offer your home a massive amount of privacy. Apart from secrecy, trees can also help to protect your living environment from wandering eyes and, at the same time, provide a sense of bliss and an attractive feel that private fences wouldn’t offer. 

However, one of the best in privacy and beauty is holly trees, as they feature dense foliage, creating a sturdy wall. They include American Holly, Dragon Lady Holly, Chinese Holly, etc.

In this article, we will discuss the best holly trees for privacy and other essential things to know about them!

What Are Holly Trees?

Also known as Ilex, the holly species is a member of more than 570 flowering plants that originated from the Aquifoliaceae family and remained the only surviving genus in its family.

Meanwhile, holly features the highest number of species of any woody dioecious angiosperm genus. 

These genus species are evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from the tropics to temperate zones worldwide. As long as a holly tree is concerned, it has unique spiky leaves with tapered lower sides and more ovate upper sides featuring fewer spikes.

Again, the holly tree comes with grey trunks that are smooth but start getting wrinkled and gnarled during maturity.

Hollies thrive in full sun, do best in soil pH of around 5.0 to 6.0 and come in different sizes and shapes. They require male pollinators around if they must grow signature berries.

Most Common Holly Trees for Privacy

We have just discussed the meaning of holly trees and a few notable qualities. Still, we will be highlighting the most common types of holly trees for privacy, as well as the beautification of your environment.  

1. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

The American Holly is one of the most popular holly species and originates from the eastern and south-central United States. It features leaves with a leathery texture and sharp edges and stays green throughout the year.

This variety features a pyramidal shape, and you can cross-pollinate it with other trees to produce red berries that make it even more attractive.

Additionally, it grows green or cream-colored blooms and has an annual growth rate of around 12 to 24 inches, which means it can develop slowly or mediumly.

As discussed earlier, the American holly can grow as tall as 40 to 50 feet at the established stage. In other words, the American holly offers a privacy screen perfect for moderate-sized yards. If you want to influence the American Holly growth, plant it in full sun or partial shade.

Again, American hollies thrive in well-drained clay soils that are acidic and moist. Therefore, it would help if you plant this variety in these soil types to encourage their growth. Fertilizers can also help influence the development of American hollies.

It would be best to use a properly-rotted manure fertilizer or a broadleaf evergreen fertilizer, as they are viable options for American holly plants and other holly tree varieties. One of the best fertilizers for these plants is Espoma Organic Holly-tone Fertilizer.

2. Dragon Lady Holly (Ilex aquipernyi)

Another holly tree species for privacy is the Dragon Lady, which features prickly and glossy leaves that stay green all year. Its prickly leaves provide great privacy screens since they are a deterrent to humans and animals.

Again, the Dragon Lady Holly is a narrow-shaped tree, an excellent option to protect narrow yards. Like the American holly, the dragon lady variety has a pyramidal shape and bears gorgeous red berries. It can grow as tall as 8 to 10 inches annually at a moderate pace.

In other words, the dragon lady variety can reach up to 10 to 20 feet at complete maturity. Because of its small size, it can only offer privacy protection for smaller yards.

Like some other holly varieties, you can give the dragon lady the adequate amount of sun and the soil type required to enhance its growth.

This variety also thrives in full sun to partial shade condition; therefore, you must provide it with the right amount of sunlight. It can also thrive in numerous soil types, apart from soggy soil.

You can apply a well-rotted manure fertilizer or a broadleaf evergreen fertilizer to enhance its growth.

3. Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta)

If you are looking for holly specie that can provide adequate privacy screen and offer pure beauty to your yard, you can look no further than the Chinese Holly tree.

As its name suggests, it originated in China, but you can find it throughout the Southeastern United States because it can tolerate heat.

These varieties are bushy and dense. They feature spiny, glossy leaves that stay green throughout the year. Unlike the American holly and the Dragon Lady holly, which are pyramidal in shape, the Chinese holly is circular.

However, like other trees, the Chinese holly usually bears red berries, and several types of Chinese holly grow yellow-colored berries. The flowers that this tree produces are yellow or green. Meanwhile, the tree grows at a moderate rate annually.

The Chinese holly tree can be a perfect option for privacy protection thanks to its bushy and dense foliage. However, the Chinese holly can be messy and overwhelming because of its business. Therefore, if you want to maintain a tidy privacy screen, pruning is necessary.

If you want your Chinese holly to grow well or produce good flowers, you must provide it with full sun to partial shade, grow it in moist, well-drained soil, and feed it with well-rotted manure broadleaf evergreen fertilizer.

4. Nellie Stevens Holly (Ilex x Nellie R. Stevens)

Do you want a perfect privacy hedge for your yard? Look no further than the Nellie R. Stevens Holly, which results from the cross-breed of the Chinese Holly and the English Holly. The plant was named after a school teacher called Nellie Stevens.

She (Nellie) picked some berries from this holly specie during her visit to the United States Botanical Garden. Meanwhile, the Nellie Stevens Holly features glossy leaves with one to three prickly spikes on them. These leaves remain green throughout the year.

Again, this variety has a pyramid shape and grows white blooms and red berries. It is also among the fastest-growing holly trees you will ever find and has an annual growth rate of more than 3 feet.

However, if you want to enhance the growth of the Nellie Stevens Holly, you must ensure you plant it in full sun to partial shade conditions. Also, you must provide it with moist, well-drained soil. It thrives best in well-rotted manure or broadleaf evergreen fertilizer.

5. Longstalk Holly (Ilex pedunculosa)

Much like every other tree on our list, the longstalk holly features glossy leaves, which do not lose their greenery throughout the year.

However, it does not have prickly leaves, which can get damaged or turn yellow during harsh winter. It also possesses relatively narrow leaves.

Meanwhile, the longstalk holly variety has a pyramid shape and grows greenish-white blooms and red berries. The berries that it bears hang from long stalks, hence its name.

Again, this tree can grow up to 15 to 30 feet tall when fully established. Sometimes, it can grow branches in random directions, which is an advantage, as that feature adds to its ability to be a good privacy plant.

However, just like other holly varieties, if your longstalk holly must grow healthy and produce enough berries, you must give it full sun to partial shade condition and plant them in moist, well-drained soil.

Well-rotted manure or broadleaf evergreen fertilizer is also a great option to ensure its growth.

What is the Fastest Growing Holly Tree?

Amongst the various types of holly trees highlighted above, the fastest-growing is the Nellie Stevens Holly. It is the fastest-growing variety because it can reach more than 3 feet annually.

In other words, it grows much faster than the American Holly and the Dragon Lady Holly, often reaching only a few inches annually.

How Far Apart Should You Grow Privacy Screen Hollies?

If you want to know how far you should plant privacy screen hollies, you must consider the width of the trees at the established stage. For instance, if you want Dragon Lady Hollies as your privacy screen, it can grow to about 10 to 12 feet wide when fully matured.

On the other hand, if you want pyramidal evergreen trees like Dragon Lady Holly as your privacy screen, the best thing is to go for staggered double-row planting. Given that it features a width of around 10 feet, grow the trees in the first row at approximately 18 feet apart.

Space the trees in the second row, one space behind the front row, which is a little less than the trees’ peak width; therefore, you must keep the rows around 8 or 9 feet apart. Lastly, the Dragon Ladies are in the second row between the ones in the first. It will provide you with a study and effective privacy screen.

When Should You Prune Holly Trees?

If you want to prune your evergreen holly trees, the best time is early summer. In other words, you must prune them during this period to prevent cold temperatures from damaging the new growth that will come after pruning.

The recommended tool for pruning activities of holly trees is bypass pruners.

How Long Do Holly Trees Live?

How long holly trees live depends significantly on the holly species and how effectively you care for them. In other words, your holly trees can generally live up to 100 years or over with proper care.


One of the best privacy plants for your yard is a holly tree. Apart from being an excellent privacy screen for your living environment thanks to its leaves, the holly tree also provides beauty and gives your yard a fantastic view for passers-by. 

You can choose from any of the best holly trees for privacy, including the American holly, the Dragon holly, the Chinese holly, the Nellie Stevens holly, and the Longstalk holly to provide a much-needed privacy screen for your yard.

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