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
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?
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.,
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.