Green Giant Arborvitae Advice

I'm thinking of planting a hedge row of Green Giant Arborvitae. I want to plant them tight (3 foot on center), because I don't like the V-shaped gaps I've seen on other Green Giant hedge rows planted to the "recommended" spacing.
My other plan is to keep them sheared to a rectangular envelope 4-6 feet deep and 12-20 feet high.
Does anyone see any problems with either of these plans?
Thanks.
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edit: I might even try 2 foot spacing on center.
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mike wrote:

Your neighbors are really bugging you, eh? LOL
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I might rethink that :-) 'Green Giants' are hybrids and only tangentially related to standard arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). Their typical spread is more closely related to Thuja plicata (one of the parents) and can reach 25' - they are not by habit columnar and narrow in profile, but rather more of a 'Christmas tree' shape - more or less conical and broad at the bottom and with a tapering tip. Too close a spacing will result in heavy shading and die out of lateral branching and you could end up with a very spotty looking privacy screen. Recommended spacing for a dense screen is 5-6' o.c., otherwise, 10-12'.
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I understand, but don't all hedges have lateral branch die-off due to adjacent neighbor shading?
Also, from what I've read, they can be trimmed to any shape (i.e. rectangular) even if they would tend to be a tall cone if left alone.
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Not necessarily - hedges are contructed from a variety of plants, some of which are far more suited to this procedure than others.

If you are willing to put forth the effort to keep them trimmed/ sheared and within bounds, yes. The issue is that Green Giants are very fast growing (3-5' per year) trees that grow to a pretty substantial size - 50-60' with a 25' spread. That's one heck of a lot of trimming....like at least 3 times a year.
Many selections of common arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis - are very narrow and columnar in form and make much better hedging candidates. One of the most popular and widely used is 'Smaragd', aka Emerald Green. This can be spaced quite closely, only gets to be about three feet wide and 15' tall. And these plants generally produce multiple leaders, so topping or leveling off the tops at a specific height is very appropriate. Green Giants typically produce a single leader, so topping is much more of an issue, causes health issues for the plants and generally results in a rather short life span.
As to "parroting" back spacing recommendations, as a landscape professional, these are plants I've grown and worked with on a number of landscape projects, so I am pretty darn familiar with them, their growth habits and the habits of both the parent species. And spacing recommendations one finds from nurseries and growers, extension fact sheets, even books are usually provided for good reason. These trees are far more similar to Leyland cypress than they are to common arborviate - big, very fast growing trees. 'Screening' is also quite different from 'hedging' - screening implies allowing the tree to growth to its natural form and size with minimal pruning. Hedging refers to maintaining the plants in a formalized shape and at a specified hight and reguires frequent and ongoing maintenance. Both Green Giants and Leylands are good screening plants but not very good hedging plants, simply by virtue of their growth rate, habit and size.
But you've apparently made up your mind despite the advice given......which by the way, you ASKED for. If you don't like it, ignore it. Go ahead and spend the money and effort, space as you wish and be prepared to be busy with the ladder and electric pruning shears. And plan on replacing your 'hedge' in 10 years, probably less.
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plants, simply by virtue of their growth rate, habit and size.

I haven't made up my mind at all. Nor will I ignore advice. I may ask probing questions, but they are not intended to offend or irritate.
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mike wrote:

Sounds like you're very anxious to block out a neighbor.
Just how are you planning to keep a 20' tall, 6' wide hedge sheared? If you plant typical 2'-3' tall nursery stock now and lets say you're 30-40 years old, by the time your plants reach 20' tall you may be a sixty year old man who will very likely be incapable of maintaining that hedge. Why pray tell do you want a 20' hedge, if for a wind break then you don't want all the same plants, at least not those that require shearing.
You don't mention the growing zone where you're located and how long a hedge. Personally I would never consider a hedge of arborvitae. they don't have a very long life span so if a few die prematurely you end up with a very unsightly hedge.... arborvitae are best used as single specimen plantings, or planted spaced out along a path or driveway to deliniate, or perhaps just two or three in a grouping so if one or two don't make it and need removal no one will notice a gap. And 3' apart is much too close (that gives only 18" of space per each side, you may as well erect a stockade fence). You'd do much better to plant two rows, staggered, and like 6'-8' on center. I think Canadian hemlock makes a much nicer hedge. But whatever you choose you need to have patience for the plants to approach a mature size, cramping them closly together in an attempt to create a hedge prematurely will become a disaster, you will have wasted your effort, your money, and mostly a lot of years before you're faced with a do over.
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I just want a closed, dense hedge, without gaps running down. It'll help ensure privacy, and will provide a barrier, especially when embedded with wire fencing. To your issues:
1. I have a very long pole pruner. It's pretty easy to use. I also have a ladder if I need to use a power hedge trimmer up high. I got it covered. I currently have a different variety, yet old & tightly spaced arborvitae hedge that I'm quite pleased with.
2. From what I've read, arborvitae are plenty long-lived for my purposes, and will last much longer than a fence.
3. Why will close spacing be a disaster? Will they die?
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There needs to be room for branching, and especially for roots... otherwise, yes, they'll likely die prematurely. Not to mention such a hedge won't have much aesthetic value.
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