Fences make good neighbors, according to the old saying. This can be
particularly true for homeowners living on relatively small lots in
urban or suburban neighborhoods or in so-called “cluster home”
“Living fences” of fairly dense shrubs and evergreen trees can
disguise existing wood or chain-link fences or even replace them
altogether. Cheryl and I planted a stand of Thuja Cedar Green Giants
several years ago and they are growing by leaps and bounds, robust and
healthy, creating a natural perimeter between our lawn and an expanse
of wilder woodland.
Cedar Green Giants can be pruned annually to keep them at a manageable
height, but left to their own devices, Cedar Green Giants can reach
heights of 30 to 50 feet, growing three to five feet a year. Another
benefit is that Cedar Green Giants are without serious pest or disease
problems, giving them an advantage over Hemlocks and the disease-prone
Leyland Cypress. Plant Cedar Green Giants three to five feet apart and
you’ll soon have a natural screen for added privacy and as a sound
barrier if traffic noise is an issue.
Another fine choice would be the arborvitae “Emerald Green” with its
dense foliage and pyramidal shape. Arborvitae Emerald Green has a very
bright green color and appears to have a tinge of gold to it if the
sun hits it just right. Arborvitae Emerald Green grows to a height of
10 - 15 feet, with a spread of 3 - 4 feet. Emerald Green displays its
bright lustrous green color all year and does not discolor in winter,
adding a feeling of life to what might be an otherwise barren
landscape. Its very compact and tight growth pattern make it an
excellent choice for a screen when spaced 2 - 3 feet apart in the row.
Here’s a reader looking for some guidance with her arborvitae.
QUESTION: “We have a row of emerald green arborvitae across the back
of our yard. We use it as a screen between our yard and the neighbors’
yard behind us.
“Starting last year six evergreens in a row started to get all brown,
mostly on our side, which faces SE. We have a maple tree shading them
some that has really started to grow in the last few years.
“We don't know if it's the shade or nutrients or what, but if they
can't grow there, do you have a suggestion as to what would thrive
there, and not look so out of place because of being something
different in the row?” – Elaine
ANSWER: There are a number of reasons why this could happen to your
arborvitae. Here are some of the most common:
Dogs urinating on the plants
Not mulching enough
Not hardening off before winter
As for the last two potential reasons, bear in mind that you should
fertilize only one time during the year (with something such as
Hollytone) and spring would be the best time to do it.
Do not water regularly after fall frost. Watering should begin to
gradually taper off in late summer (such as late August to September
depending on your location) so that the plant can harden off for
winter. Arborvitae are not drought tolerant so when tapering off,
simply stretch the number of days between watering. Should there be no
regular rainfall during that period, supplemental watering will be
necessary, just less frequently.
From the photographs you e-mailed to me, most of your plants look
fine, just the ones on the inside look somewhat stressed. Take a look
at the possible list of causes, above, and taking into account your
local weather conditions, you should be able to narrow it down.
If you identify and rectify the problem, there should be no need to
replace your arborvitae.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org