Thuja Green Giant – Not Just a Hedging Plant

While Thuja Green Giant is widely grown for hedges and screening, and justifiably so, given its rapid growth-rate and dense, upright structure, the use of this plant in gardens shouldn’t stop there. Fast-growing evergreens have a wealth of uses, so it’s time to take a closer look at what can be done with this versatile plant to solve a variety of garden design issues. Let’s get started.

Thuja Green Giant as Specimen Trees

There is something majestic and calming about a column of evergreen foliage. There is a range of plants that do this, but for many of them the wait is long until they become effective. Not with Thuja Green Giant. With proven growth of 3 feet a year in younger plants, it won’t be long at all until you have a bold green column making a statement in your garden. These fingers of green are ideal for adding a touch of geometry to your garden. Plant a pair on either side of your driveway, for example, or to flank a gate. Run an avenue beside a long driveway and bring a majestic feel to coming home. If you have a portico entrance, or large front doors, then it will look even more impressive framed by green columns on either side. Mark the corners of your patio with an upright exclamation point of green and add calming balance to your garden.

These upright features are important in any garden, formal or informal, because they create a sense of structure. It is easy to plant a lot of trees and shrubs on your property, but you don’t want them to become just a forest. Thoughtfully-placed accents show that this is a garden, not just a collection of plants. If you have a large lawn, you might have planted several trees on it. The natural tendency is to use shade or flowering trees, and that is the way to go, but adding some upright evergreens creates a fully picture, and makes the trees look even more impressive.

Another valuable place to put one or more specimens of Thuja Green Giant is in the corners of your property. These can be difficult spots to landscape well, but evergreens will create a more enclosed look that enhances the ‘garden’ feel. In small to medium-sized gardens, one will probably be enough in a corner, given that they will soon be 12 feet wide. But in larger gardens a group will most likely be needed.

Spacing Groups of Thuja Green Giant

The rule for grouping plants is simple, and is taken from Asian gardens, where even numbers other than two are considered unlucky, and everything is done in odd numbers. It might be more a case of ‘look’ than ‘luck’, but anyway, this rule is a good one. If you plant a group of more than one, even two is rarely right, but three just looks so much better. For larger areas – and Thuja Green Giant can quickly fill even a large dead spot, go to five or even seven plants.

The spacing between plants is critical to making groups work properly. The most common mistake is putting them too close. It just seems impossible that these compact little guys could even get so big they merge into a formless mass. They do – very quickly. While we exploit this for a hedge or screen, with groups of specimens we want an outcome that respects each plants individuality. You can reckon that in most gardens Thuja Green Giant will reach a spread of 12 feet. So plants spaced that far apart will take maybe twenty years to touch. When we stand back and look at a group of plants we see the upper part, and to create a group there has to be some unification. This means that 12-foot centers are going to be too far apart, at least for a very long time. 8 to 10 feet is usually the ideal spacing for this plant when forming a cluster. If you make groupings of more than three plants, plant one or two a little further apart – so in a group of five, three might be on 8-foot centers, and the remaining two on 10-foot. This might sound trifling, but it is on this attention to detail that distinctive gardens are created. If the plants begin to merge lower down, but remain as separate fingers up above, that is the ideal outcome. The goal is to look ‘natural’, so strict geometry is out – unless you are doing the Italian Renaissance in your garden.

For that avenue mentioned earlier, the spacing needs to be more, so that each tree stays as a distinct individual. 20-foot centers would be a minimum, which means six pairs along a 100-foot driveway. “Wait – that can’t be right!” did you just say? Yes, it is – you need a pair at each end, and four pairs to divide the 100 feet evenly into twenty-foot intervals. Draw a diagram if you don’t believe it.

Thuja Green Giant in Tubs

Although usually planted directly in the ground, Thuja Green Giant is in fact a plant that is perfect to fill big tubs with low-maintenance green. Not only do they grow fast, but they stay naturally tight, although there is nothing wrong with clipping to get a more formal, conical shape from your plants.

Since this is a large plant, bigger containers are needed. Half-barrels, or 24-inch planters, are the right size for trees that are going to be in those planters for a long time. Make sure they have large drainage holes, and try to source potting soil for outdoor planters, not houseplants. These soils contain composted bark or other coarser materials that don’t break down quickly, so the soil is more resistant to rain, and continues to drain well. A spring application of a slow-release fertilizer for evergreens is all it takes to keep your trees growing well. Thuja Green Giant is relatively drought resistant, so established plants in pots take a while to suffer if you don’t water, but it is best not to let that happen. Once the top few inches are dry, give them a deep soak until water flows from the drainage holes. Then leave them to become dryer again before re-watering. This is necessary to prevent root diseases.

These tubs can be placed on a terrace, around a pool, in the corners of a parking area, or just about anywhere you have paved surfaces. The benefit of evergreens is that they don’t start dropping leaves each fall, or flower petals either, so maintenance of the area is not impacted significantly.

 

However you use Thuja Green Giant around your garden, you will be amazed at the versatility and adaptability of this plant, and how easily it brings structure and form to any garden. Hedges are not the end of the uses for this plant – they are just the beginning.

Winter-proof Your Hedges

Although in most areas fall is still in full swing, winter is indeed just around the corner. Some years it comes gradually, and other times it arrives out of nowhere. Which ever it is this year, now is the time to get ready for it. If you live in warm zones, that might mean very little, but in colder areas, where winter damage from cold, ice, snow or salt is common, some preparation now will make all the difference. You can avoid burnt foliage and broken branches with a few simple steps – done in fall.

Winter-proof Your Hedges

  • Trim in fall – a tight trim before the cold arrives will protect it from breakage
  • Apply fall fertilizers – choose a mix that is blended for fall application
  • Water well through the fall – even if rain has fallen, soaking the roots protects against winter burn
  • Protect against salt damage – burlap screens take some time and effort to erect, but they do the job better than anything else.
Trim in fall to protect your hedge in winter

The worst thing for a hedge is to go into the rigors of winter needing a hair-cut. An overgrown hedge will collect snow and ice, and branches will be caught by the wind more easily. The weight of that snow, and the twisting of the wind, caused broken branches and collapsed hedges. So get that trimming done well before winter comes, but after the growth has started to slow down. In cold areas that means late September or early October. In warmer areas any time in October is usually going to be suitable. The goal is to leave a few weeks for your hedge to harden after trimming, and perhaps produce a little fresh growth, and if you trim late that new growth will not have ripened enough to prevent it burning.

Hedging plants like Thuja Green Giant are very fast growing – the fastest evergreen around – so even if you trimmed in summer the chances are that there will be significant new growth on your hedge. Get out and give it a trim – you will really see the benefits next spring.

Two things to look out for. First, many people cut hedges by moving the trimmers upwards only, not downwards. This is a mistake, since it encourages long stems growing up the face of the hedge, and these are easily dislodged by wind and snow, leaving big empty spaces. Instead, always trim in all directions, so that the branches are more horizontal, with short ends branching out. This way, not only is the hedge structured in a more stable way, if a branch does die it leaves a smaller hole that fills in more quickly.

The second thing is the top. If you regularly have heavy snow, a rounded top will shed it better than a flat one – which admittedly does look more formal. If you do insist on a flat top, taper the sides in a bit more than normal, so that the top is as narrow as possible. Less snow will build up, and the chances of breakage are greatly reduced.

Put down a fall fertilizer

We usually think of fertilizer as something to put down in spring and summer, to stimulate lots of growth. Usually we don’t want growth in fall, as it will be soft and easily damaged by the cold. But there are other essential nutrients for plants – potassium in this case – which don’t stimulate growth, and instead increase cold resistance, and disease resistance too. Visit your local garden center and look for fertilizers labelled for fall, for evergreens. These have a lot of potassium, and not much nitrogen. Apply them straight after trimming, and they will toughen up your hedge to face the onslaught of winter.

Some of these fall fertilizers go even further. If you see a high nitrogen content on them, this is because the nitrogen is in a form that needs warm temperatures (over 40 degrees) to work. So they sit all winter, and kick in when spring arrives. This means no need to fertilize your hedges until early summer, so that is one job saved from what is a very busy season – a real bonus.

Keep up the water supply

Perhaps the single most important thing to do for your evergreens in fall is water them. This applies not just to hedges, and not just to newly-planted evergreen trees and shrubs, but to all of them, especially ones that you have seen burned in winter before. Often evergreens in foundation planting around the house have problems because the eaves reduce rainfall, and the ground is often dry.

Because these plants still have leaves, they lose water to the air all winter long. Cold winter air is very dry, and so they lose more than in summer. If the soil is dry they may not be able to keep up, and so the foliage dries out. There is a more subtle reason as well. If you live where the ground freezes hard, then plants can’t pull water from it easily – like trying to drink by sucking an ice-cube – but without a warm mouth. The more water in the soil, the less it freezes, and some water tends to stay in liquid form between the soil clumps. By soaking the ground a few times in fall – early on and then just as the ground is starting to freeze up, you make it easier for the plants to take up water, and so avoid winter burn, which is really a desiccation injury.

Protect your hedge from salt

Salt spray from roads and run-off from driveways causes a lot of damage to evergreens. Thuja Green Giant is one evergreen that has pretty good salt resistance, but others are not so good. The best way to protect from run-off is to stop using salt on your driveway. Switch to sand, which gives good traction without damaging your garden.

For highway salt, erect a burlap screen between the hedge and the road, higher than the hedge, to catch what drifts over the top. The secret is to put it a couple of feet in front of the hedge, with a space between, and NOT right on the hedge, as you see done so often in areas with deep winters. That way the burlap catches the salt, and stops it reaching the hedge. Letting the burlap touch of course simply holds the salt right on the foliage – worse than doing nothing at all. Screens also slow down the wind, and they protect from desiccation injury as well.

How to Fix Common Problems with Evergreen Hedges

Sometimes things in the garden don’t work out as we thought they would. With hedges, that vision of a lush green wall framing our garden and bringing privacy doesn’t materialize – instead we have poor growth, gaps, thinning out, and other issues that arise. We want to fix them – and also understand where we went wrong. Some fixes are easy, others perhaps not, so this can also be a cautionary tale on how to avoid things going wrong.

‘My hedge looks pale and thin’

Instead of thick, bright-green foliage on your Thuja Green Giant, or other evergreens, they are growing slowly, and the leaves look pale, perhaps with some of the older pieces looking yellow. There are two possible reasons for this – lack of nutrients or lack of water – or both. Evergreens need plenty of nitrogen, and if your soil is sandy and lacking in organic material, then there will not be enough available. As well, if your plants have been dry for some time, perhaps due to drought, or because you haven’t watered them, they are not absorbing water. The pathway for nutrients is via water, so if there is very little water uptake, even if you have fertilized, and have rich soil, the minerals are not making their way into your plants – which are in survival mode, trying to cope with dryness by going dormant.

This one is an easy fix. First, establish a regular watering pattern. This will be a lot easier if you install a simple ‘leaky pipe’ trickle hose along the base of your hedge. Wind it in and out between the plants, so you cover the area well. Attach this to a regular hosepipe, and let it run for several hours, so that the water makes its way down to the roots. To restore your hedge, do this weekly for a couple of months, and then it will only be needed when the soil is dry. If this is a newly-planted hedge, then you should keep up the weekly watering into the fall on a weekly schedule. An easy way to do this chore automatically is to attach a timer to the outdoor faucet. These are inexpensive, and can be programmed to come on automatically, without the expensive of a full irrigation system.

If the problem is poor soil, then the best fix is to improve your soil when planting. Add plenty of rich organic material, like compost or rotted manures, when digging the area over before planting. If you didn’t do this, there is still hope. Start with concentrated fertilizer – it could be something organic like fish meal or fish emulsion, or alfalfa pellets, or a synthetic fertilizer. The quickest fix is with a liquid fertilizer – look for a high first number, perhaps around 20, in the fertilizer formula. This should be watered thoroughly into the ground over the root area, and you can also spray it at half-strength directly onto the foliage. Repeat 2 weeks later, and again a month later. You should see a big improvement. Once you have restored growth, start using fertilizer regularly, in spring and through the summer. Once your plants are healthy again you can switch to a granular fertilizer, which is much easier to apply. There are also slow-release formulations that only need one application a year – an even bigger time saver.

‘The bottom part of my hedge is looking thin’

Once a hedge has grown to its full size, the lower parts can weaken and thin out. In extreme cases the whole bottom section for several feet may die, leaving your hedge on bare trunks. Yet that lower part is usually where we want it to be thick and green. What to do?

This problem is most often seen on the north-facing side of a hedge, and there are two possible causes. It might be you have planted shrubs in front, and as they grow they are making a lot of shade on the bottom of your hedge. That shade will reduce growth, and it may kill the lower branches. Evergreens like Thuja Green Giant need sun or bright light, and in the shade of shrubs, especially other evergreens, they will abandon their lower branches, and put their energy into the upper growth – which is not what we want in a hedge. The fix for this is simple – trim those plants in front, if necessary removing some – you can transplant them somewhere else in your garden – to let the light in. it is best to leave a pathway at least 3 feet wide between the outer branches of other plants and a hedge.

The second reason could be poor trimming, specifically, letting the top growth become too wide. Look at your hedge from the end. Is the top wider than the bottom? If it is, then the upper part will draw all the energy, leaving the lower branches to starve and weaken. If you catch this problem while the lower parts are still reasonably healthy you can turn it around. Start trimming more from the top, in stages, until you have a slight inward slope on the face of your hedge. Remember that you can’t trim evergreens back to bare branches and expect then to re-shoot. With a few exceptions, like yew trees, they won’t. So you need to cut back in stages, always leaving some green. If the problem is not too extreme you will be able to reverse this error. Of course if you are starting a new hedge, don’t let it happen in the first place, and always lean the face of the hedge backwards a little, to let light to the bottom, and inhibit the upper growth from taking over.

Sadly, once that lower part is dead, you won’t be able to bring it back. Planting small plants along the bottom sometimes works, but it often doesn’t. It is almost always better in the long run to start again with a new hedge.

‘Every spring my hedge is brown’

There are three reasons this might happen. The first and most obvious is that you have chosen plants not hardy enough for your location. Thuja Green Giant is hardy to zone 5, but not colder. Other evergreens will take colder conditions, while others need more warmth. Always match your choice of plants to your location.

The second possible reason is salt damage. If your hedge is along a roadway that is salted, then drifting salt can burn the foliage. Thuja Green Giant is tolerant of some salt spray, but other evergreens for hedges are not. The best solution, if this is a regular problem, is to erect a burlap screen a couple of feet in front of your hedge, to catch the spray. Don’t let it touch the hedge, otherwise the salt will just sit there, and the damage can be worse.

The third reason is lack of moisture at the roots. If neither of those first two reasons seems to be the problem, then soak your hedge well shortly before the soil begins to freeze up. Apply a mulch over the roots as well. This will keep the ground from freezing so hard, and your hedge plants will not desiccate in the cold, dry, winter winds.

Fall Fertilizer for Thuja Green Giant and Other Evergreens

In almost every garden situation, evergreens benefit from a fertilizer program. This is especially true when you are developing a screen or hedge – there you want maximum growth in height, but density too, not just tall, skinny shoots. It is also true for specimen plants, which we want to always look their best, with rich green foliage and healthy growth. Even mature plantings benefit from fertilizer programs, which keep them healthy, and encourage rejuvenation, especially following trimming. Plants that are regularly trimmed must constantly replace the growth removed, so their nutritional needs are much greater than in plants that are just left to grow. This explains why feeding the lawn is the most common fertilizer activity among gardeners – all those clippings must be replaced.

Fertilizer doesn’t replace caring for your soil

Always look at your fertilizer use as a supplement to your overall soil care, not a replacement for it. Good soil preparation before planting, and maintenance of soil fertility afterwards, are the key to good gardening. It is perfectly true that such management is all you really need – Mother Nature has been gardening that way for millions of years. They key to good soil preparation and maintenance is organic material – rotted plants, and the waste from animals. Garden compost, farm and stable manure, the by-products of seed oil production (corn, soya, etc.) – all these are good sources for garden use. Materials like peat moss, for all their availability, are low on the list of suitable materials, but if that is all you can find, it is better than nothing.

Not only should you add plenty of organic material when preparing the area for evergreen planting, but established plantings should be mulched with these kinds of materials regularly. How regularly depends on your soil. Sandy soils need it every year or two, loam soils every 3 or4 years, and heavier soils perhaps every 5 years. Heavy clay does benefit from plenty of organic material, because it improved drainage, but it is not truly needed very much as fertilizer in those very rich soils.

What’s so special about fall?

But we digress. . . so to return to our subject, what is special about fall when it comes to fertilizing evergreens like Thuja Green Giant, Arborvitae, Cypress, or other evergreens? While deciduous plants solve many of the problems of winter by just shedding their leaves and going to sleep, evergreens keep their foliage, so they can face more problems as a result. Evergreen foliage has evolved to protect itself from severe cold, but in garden situations the very act of gardening changes the plants – particularly when we accelerate growth. The high levels of nitrogen applied in spring and summer create larger cells in the foliage, with thinner walls. It doesn’t make much difference if you use chemical or organic sources of nitrogen either. Anything that accelerates growth will do this.

Those thinner walls are easier for insect pests to feed through, and for diseases to penetrate, and even more importantly in fall, those thinner walls are more easily damaged by cold. The sap inside the leaf is thinner too, so it freezes to make large ice crystals, which in turn rupture the cell walls, killing that part of the plant.

This means that in fall we want to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer for our hedges and evergreens. This is the first number in the fertilizer formula, and while in an evergreen fertilizer for spring and summer you will see a high number, in fall mixes it should be smaller.

Special fall mixes that prepare for spring

Now there is a complexity that steps in at this point. Some more sophisticated formulations of chemical fertilizers use special sources of nitrogen that are only released when the soil temperatures are above about 45 degrees. These are sometimes used in fall fertilizers, so if you look at high-end products promoted for fall use, that first number can be surprisingly high. Don’t be concerned. The purpose in using these materials is to get an early start in spring – as soon as the soil warms that nitrogen will be released, and you don’t need to make an early fertilizer application. So you are saved a job at a busy time of year – a great idea, yes?

Make those cell wall tough and hardy

But usually you will see a low nitrogen number in fall fertilizers. The next number to look at is the last one – the element potassium, also called potash. For a fall fertilizer for your evergreens, like Thuja Green Giant, look for a big number here – 10 or more. Potassium is a slightly strange fertilizer element. It doesn’t take part in building proteins, as nitrogen does, or in making DNA or fats, as phosphates do. In fact, it doesn’t appear in any structural parts of plants (or humans for that matter). It is found, however, in the sap of plant cells, where it plays a vital role. It causes the cells to absorb water – and the nutrients that water contains. It is essential for the plant roots to take up plant foods, and in the cells of the leaves it keeps them full-up with water. This way the leaves stay rigid, stand up and catch the sunlight. Plants low in potassium will often look like they are wilting, even when they have enough water available at the roots.

For plants strength and resistance, potassium is important too. By ‘pumping up’ the cells, pressure is applied to the cell walls. Remember we said they are softer than normal in plants that are fertilized for quick growth? Well potassium in fall reverses that. The pressure of the cell contents on the wall makes it grow thicker (rather like resistance training for people), and restores its protective functions, giving better resistance to cold, wind and diseases. That pressure also sucks in more minerals and sugars, lowering the freezing point of the cell contents, and creating small, mushy ice crystals that won’t break the cell walls. So the cells don’t die.

Take care of the roots too

Finally, all that rapid upper growth can make the top parts of the plant outgrow the roots. Fall is when plants renew their root systems, and roots have a high need for that middle number in fertilizers, phosphate. So look for a reasonable number here – over 10 – so that you feed the roots as well, strengthening and extending them, so that come spring they can deliver everything the top-growth needs.

Fall fertilizer is often overlooked, but as you can see it should be a vital part of your annual program, if you want the very best Thuja Green Giant and other evergreens can give you.

How does Thuja Green Giant Stack Up Against Its Rivals?

You have decided you need a hedge or screen on your property, maybe to give you privacy, to hide an ugly view, to reduce noise and air pollution, or to block cold winds and trap some warmth in your garden. Now comes the choosing part. It’s like deciding on a sofa – lots of choices, and many of them have good features. So how to decide? Let’s look at the major questions you need to ask, when choosing the plants to grow that screen, and see how they stack up against each other.

Evergreen or deciduous?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. An evergreen hedge might seem the obvious choice – after all, you usually want screening in winter too, but there can be advantages in a deciduous screen. Sometimes the area you want to screen is not used in winter, and a leafless hedge lets through a lot of light, so when the days are short in winter that might be just what you want – perhaps to let more light into your home. Remember that the sun is lower in winter, so a hedge can cast a long shadow over a lot of your garden. But yes, mostly the choice is going to be evergreen, for the privacy it gives, and the beautiful neutral green backdrop it creates in a garden.

Tall or shorter?

Just how tall you want your hedge or screen to be is an important consideration. If you plant something with a maximum height way more than you need, it will need constant trimming, and could in the future become a real menace to you and your neighbors. Thuja Green Giant is a terrific choice for a large hedge or screen but remember it will reach 30 feet tall or more in a relatively short time – as tall as the top of the roof of a two-story house. That is perfect is you need that height, and it will also get there fast, growing 3 feet or even more a year during its early years.

But if you want a hedge around 6 to 8 feet tall, you would be better choosing something else – perhaps Emerald Green Arborvitae, which will only reach 12 or 14 feet even if it is never trimmed. Sure, it will grow more slowly, but since you don’t want it so tall, your hedge will be ready in the same number of years. . .

Where do you live?

Climate has an enormous impact on which plants will grow well for you. Always stay well within your climate zone when choosing something as basic as a screening plant. It is fine to experiment with a shrub or even a small tree that might not be fully hardy for you, but don’t do that with a hedge. Across a very large part of the country Thuja Green Giant grows well – from zone 5 to zone 8 or 9. In colder areas the best bet by far is Emerald Green Arborvitae, which is perfectly hardy in the coldest areas, all the way through zone 3.

The second part of climate – besides winter minimum temperatures – that should be considered is rainfall. Unless you have extensive irrigation available, and that is no longer a very acceptable choice in many communities, you need to consider drought resistance. Thuja Green Giant is considered ‘drought resistant’, that is, established plants will be unaffected by the sort of summer droughts that are relatively normal in the east. When you move into arid states like Utah or Arizona, much longer periods of drought are normal. There much tougher plants are needed. Winter drought, combined with low temperatures, such as in the Dakotas, or even in Minnesota, call for plants that are both hardy and drought resistant. There plants like the Spartan Juniper, hardy to zone 4 and very drought resistant, become top hedge choices. In states with regular extended summer droughts, like California, and with mild winters, hedge plants like the Italian Cypress and the Arizona Cypress are your friends.

How long can you wait?

If you badly need this screen to make your garden habitable, then plants that grow rapidly in their early years are going to be top choices. Here there is no doubt that Thuja Green Giant has the opposition beaten cold. With proven growth rates of more than 3 feet when growing in a field, that can be topped with generous watering and fertilizer in many garden situations. The only potential rival for that top spot is the Leyland Cypress, but that tree has had disease issues in recent decades. In fact, the rise of Thuja Green Giant is directly related to disappointment with Leyland Cypress in warmer southern states in particular.

If you do need that extra height Leyland Cypress can bring – it will reach as much as 60 feet in a few decades – then choose the Murray Cypress, a more disease-resistant variety that was introduced relatively recently. Do be careful with Leyland Cypress though. If you don’t need, and have room for, all the height and bulk, then avoid it for something more modest. Thuja Green Giant is almost a dwarf evergreen against it.

For those drier areas Italian Cypress is not far behind these two, with rates of about 2 feet a year, but Arborvitae generally only grow about a foot, or even less, in a year, so if you don’t need them for winter hardiness, sticking with Thuja Green Giant makes a lot of sense.

What about deer?

This is always a big question, and it’s one that’s hard to answer, because those pesky critters are unpredictable, and what they will eat depends quite a lot on just how hungry they are. Broadly speaking, Thuja Green Giant is mostly ignored by deer, or only touched a little. Arborvitae, on the other hand, are almost always eaten, as is Leyland Cypress. Junipers and Italian Cypress are usually left alone, as they are rather spiny, but not always. . .

 

As you can see, there are lots of things to take into account when choosing your evergreens. For a ‘Three Bears’ garden, that is, “not to hot, not too cold, etc.” Thuja Green Giant stands out as the ‘go to’ choice, but if your situation is more extreme, other choices may be more suitable for your particular circumstances.

Many Ways to Use Thuja Green Giant on Your Property

Thuja Green Giant is the most popular evergreen planted in gardens, for its vigor, fast-growth, pest & disease resistance, and site adaptability. There are a lot of situations that can arise in gardens, and on larger properties, where this plant is the solution to a need or problem, but sometimes that may not be obvious. There are a surprising number of uses for this reliable plant, so we are going to discuss some of the most important ones, all of which may not be obvious to a new gardener.

Screening

This is probably the most common use for this tree, so this one does not fall into the ‘not too obvious’ category, but it certainly needs some discussion. There are lots of situations where screening is needed on a property – here are the main ones:

  • Your garden has no privacy – this could be due to a busy road passing by, or being close to neighboring houses, so that you are overlooked. There may be a walking path beside your garden, and walkers have even more time to take a look than passing drivers do.
  • You have ugly views – a busy highway is not something you want to look at, especially if you have an attractive rural property. Or perhaps you can see an industrial building, workshop of factory. These properties are often undervalued because of this, but a few years after planting a barrier your property value can zoom up, once you eliminate the cause of that lower value. A screen can be a real financial benefit.
  • You have noise around you – road traffic, aircraft, factories, sports fields, playgrounds – these all create noise-pollution that makes being in the garden an unhappy experience. Fences do little to block noise, unless they are specially designed for that function (and usually ugly and expensive), but plants filter sound very effectively, and behind a screen of Thuja Green Giant, all will be calm and peaceful, while the world rages on around you.

The need for screening is particularly a problem is the road passes the back or side of your property. We tend to accept that the front garden is not so private, as it almost always faces a road. But on corner lots, the side too is open, allowing a clear view into the back garden, which we often find unacceptable. Even with a ‘front’ only’ road, if the property is wide most of the garden may be visible. Worst of all is having a road running along the back, leaving you totally visible. There are lots of ways to screen, but plants provide the most cost-effective solution in almost all cases. They don’t begin to deteriorate the moment you put them in, as fences do – instead they become better and better. The only problem is the time taken to develop, and this is where Thuja Green Giant has the edge over every other evergreen available. It will grow 3 feet plus a year in its early years, and sooner than you can imagine you will have good screening – that only gets denser and better with every passing year.

Even if you move into a new development that has wooden fences already in place, remember that those fences will never screen higher up, and they will require maintenance and deteriorate over time. Planting a row of Thuja Green Giant along the fence will develop a screen to replace it, as the fence deteriorates. By the time it becomes an eye-sore, that collapsing fence won’t be visible to you at all, and it can be removed. The perfect solution.

As well, because fences are short, they provide only limited screening from things at ground level, not from upper story windows, multi-story buildings, or tall structures like billboards or power transformers. Thuja Green Giant will grow 20 or 30 feet tall – tall enough to screen most things from view, and certainly block the lower levels of even the tallest building. A 20 feet screening row of evergreens, say 30 feet from your viewing point, will block the lower 60 feet of something 100 feet away. It’s true!

Shelter

In some places, such as open countryside, or at the beach, strong winds can blow, and these make being in the garden unpleasant on many days. Windbreaks made from a variety of trees and shrubs can stop this.

  • Your garden is windy and exposed – it is very hard to grow a wide variety of plants, and create a beautiful garden, if the site is constantly swept by strong winds, that bring cold, rain and snow. Plants remain small, their foliage is damaged, and flowering is reduced or absent. Fruit trees drop their fruit – the list goes on and on. In exposed locations providing shelter from the prevailing winds is an essential first step to making a real garden, that you can enjoy, and love.
  • You want to encourage birds and wildlife – shelter belts made from a variety of trees and shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, filter wind, trap noise, and provide refuges and nesting places for birds and other small animals. Birds are often excellent pest-control in a garden, and so you help your plants too, while encouraging a rich local ecology.

Air Pollution

Plants are the most effective way to trap air pollution, both particles and gases. That stink of a highway will largely disappear if the air must flow through evergreens like Thuja Green Giant to reach your garden. Dust is trapped, and settles around the base of plants, leaving the air clean and pure. Asthma and bronchitis will probably be reduced too, and these health benefits are real, and especially effective in urban areas.

Creating Internal Gardens

Making separate gardens within your garden is a great way to enrich your experience of it. Especially in a larger garden, you can create a series of ‘rooms’ for different purposes – a vegetable garden; a fruit garden; an ornamental flower garden to stroll in; a garden for your children to play in; the list goes on and it can be tailored to your personal preferences. Clipped hedges of Thuja Green Giant – they can be clipped regularly for a formal look or left more casual and clipped once a year or less – are a simple and effective way to create these internal rooms, and series of functional areas. Hedges can be the conventional straight line, but they can also be curved and even grown in circles, depending on your needs or creativity. Entrances can be created by overlapping the ends of the hedge, so that you can’t even see there are other areas, or the openings can be lined up to create long vistas through one garden after another. Sounds ambitious? Perhaps, but you can do more than you perhaps realize with a creative approach.

Specimens

For one last suggestion, you don’t have to grow Thuja Green Giant in rows. Single plants, or groups of two, three, five, or more, clustered in corners, or on a lawn, create elegant and easy-to-grow accent points, and permanent garden features that give structure to your garden, making it peaceful and graceful. When creating clusters, always use odd numbers, (except for two) – it looks a whole lot more natural.

Fall Care of Thuja Green Giant

Fall is just around the corner – indeed in northern areas Labor Day weekend often sees the first cooler weather arrive, and with it the first hints of fall color. As that color intensifies, our evergreens become more prominent, as their permanent green forms a backdrop to the kaleidoscope of golds and reds that takes over our trees. Once simply background, an evergreen screen or hedge is suddenly thrown into contrast – and its defects can become much more prominent. Just when we want them to look perfect, they may not be. So before the full arrival of fall, and the distractions and other garden work that arrives with it, now is an excellent time to give your hedges and evergreens some attention, so that they will be lush and green, and also so that they will pass through the coming winter unscathed.

Recommendations for Fall Care of Thuja Green Giant

  • Fertilizer with a high potassium feed – it toughens your plants for winter
  • Use a fertilizer with iron and magnesium – it will enrich the green coloring
  • Water deeply right up to freeze up – the best prevention for ‘winter burn’
  • Give a last trim in early fall – the perfect backdrop to fall color, and reduced winter damage too

Fall Fertilizer Guidelines for Thuja Green Giant

Through spring and summer, the emphasis in feeding evergreens is on the element nitrogen. This is the element that encourages vigorous, lush growth, and so evergreens need plenty of it to fulfil their promise. Strong, rapid growers like Thuja Green Giant in particular, have enormous potential for spring and summer growth, and three feet a year during its early life is easily achieved. But to do that your plants need plenty of nitrogen. So summer fertilizers for evergreens are packed with it, and N-P-K formulas like 10-8-6 in granular feeds, or 20-5-10 in liquid fertilizers are common.

In fall and through winter your evergreens have different needs, so a shift in formulation is needed. Roots respond to the moisture from fall rain, especially since the ground is still warm, and roots need lots of phosphorus – the ‘P’ in that formula. An increase in that number, or even an application of a high-phosphorus fertilizer for transplanting, is called for. Especially if you have new trees, planted back in spring, and you didn’t add phosphorus at that time, early fall is an ideal moment to use a ‘transplant’ fertilizer. Phosphorus is notorious for not penetrating into the soil, so a granular form needs to be forked into the top layers of soil. Alternatively, use a liquid formulation, where the nutrients will be carried deeper by the water they are dissolved in.

In colder area in particular, winter damage is always a concern. The nutrient potassium – that’s the ‘K’ in the formula – has been repeatedly proven to enhance cold resistance, as well as resistance to sucking insects and fungal diseases. A visit to your local hardware or garden center at this time will usually give you a high-potassium evergreen food for fall, with a lower first number too (that’s the nitrogen, remember). Reducing nitrogen and increasing potassium ‘hardens off’ that summer growth, slowing down your plants so they enter winter tough and resistant. As well, look for supplementary iron and magnesium, which will quickly put a rich green into your foliage, intensifying that beautiful color contrast with the golds of fall.

Fall Watering Recommendations for Thuja Green Giant

The stresses of summer can leave the subsoil dry, and unless you have several days of steady rainfall, your trees can go into winter in soil with a moisture deficit. This in turn will leave your plants more prone to stress, so through fall take steps to prevent that. Deep watering in early September will stimulate root growth, and those soakings should continue through the season, making sure to give one last one before the ground begins to freeze (if it does in your zone). Not only does this keep the roots healthy, and the foliage sturdy and full of moisture, but it gives important winter protection too, especially in colder areas, with young plants, and in exposed locations. Thuja Green Giant is one tough plant, but if the foliage is dry it can burn in cold winter winds and bright sun, when water is drawn from the foliage by the solar heat and cold, dry air. If that happens then that green color will turn to brown, disfiguring your hedge, and spoiling that wonderful green winter color. If the ground freezes then it is harder for the trees to draw up water, and the foliage is more susceptible to this kind of damage. Plenty of water at the roots is your secret weapon against this ‘winter burn’, because moist soil freezes more slowly, or not at all, so water uptake is easier for your trees.

Early fall is an ideal time for the last trim

Since your evergreens are about to become a whole lot more noticeable, it is time to smarten them up for the party. A light trim in early fall will smooth out any defects, and make your hedges and screens look perfect. But it’s not just a matter of visuals. Every time you trim you develop denser growth and a tighter surface on your hedges. With every trimming they become denser and denser, which is what gives hedges that mature look we all strive for. As well though, as is often the case with good gardening habits, it isn’t just a case of visuals. If snow and ice storms are a feature of your winters, then a smooth, dense and clipped surface on a hedge is much less likely to accumulate snow and ice and break apart. Make sure too that you round off the top if you are in a high-snowfall area, or subject to blizzards. The round top will shed snow better, and it is much less likely to collapse under the weight of accumulated snow.

If you follow these simple recommendations, you will be making your plants of Thuja Green Giant – and other similar evergreens too – even more beautiful, as well as giving them the best care possible. They will thank you with beauty and rich green coloring as the perfect backdrop to the colorful activities in your garden that make fall most beautiful of all the seasons.

The Beginner’s Guide to Evergreen Hedges and Screens

A hedge that is green all year is the perfect backdrop to any garden – heck, many gardens are simply a hedge, lawn and shade tree, and they provide everything needed to enjoy a simple garden. So planting a row of evergreens to create a clipped hedge, or a less formal, unclipped screen, is often the first major project in a new garden, followed by that lawn and shade tree. Of course, for a more beautiful garden flowering shrubs and other plants are needed too, but without that hedge, many gardens don’t look right. This is especially true if you have an unsightly view, or you are overlooked by a road or near-by houses, and the privacy you achieve from a hedge makes such a difference that most people choose to make it an early priority.

If you are new to gardening – perhaps this is your first home, after living in apartments – then there are plenty of pitfalls, so getting a clearer understanding of what you need, and what is involved, is the first step to take. Let’s do that here, and see what the vital questions are that will guide you through the process.

Questions to Ask When Planning an Evergreen Hedge

  • How high do I need my hedge to be?
  • What plants are the best choice for my area?
  • How many plants do I need?
  • How long will it take to grow?

Let’s take each of these questions in turn and give some answers.

How high do I need my hedge to be?

This is an important question, because you want the plant you choose to do the job, but equally, you don’t want to plant something too big, that is likely to take over in a few years, or throw so much shade your garden suffers.

It is often not obvious how tall a hedge or screen needs to be, unless you are planting right up against a fence or wall you want to hide. Then you can simply measure the height of the wall or fence, and you know the height of the hedge you need. But when it comes to concealing the view of something further away, it gets more complex. There is a simple way to do it though, and here it is. Collect together an assistant, some bamboo canes or tall poles, some string, and a piece of red cloth. Tie the red cloth to the end of one of the canes, and have your assistant hold it on the line where you want to plant your hedge. Stand in the places you want to be shielded from view in and look at that red cloth. Is it high enough? Thought not. Now tie a second cane to the bottom of the first one and try again. Tall enough now? Too tall? Keep adding canes, holding them vertically upright, and checking what it hides, until you are satisfied with the result. Take a measure and see what the height of those sticks are. I bet it isn’t at all what you expected. Now you know the minimum height you need for your hedge or screen. That was simple, wasn’t it!

Knowing the height, you can now choose a suitable plant. For a screen you want something that will reach that height in under 10 years, although if you need a lot of height that could be unrealistic. So something that will grow fast is needed if the height is over 10 feet. Look at the maximum height listed for plants you are interested in and make sure it will even grow to the height you want. Since most plants slow down as they approach mature height, for coverage in a reasonable time you need to choose something with a mature height twice the minimum height you need for screening – or you will be waiting 30 years for your screen. You might need to have the screen topped every couple of years, if excess height is a problem.

What plants are the best choice for my area?

Check your postcode against the USDA zone system, and see where you fall. If you are between Zone 5 to 9, then Thuja Green Giant is probably your best bet. It’s fast-growing, and tough as they come. In colder areas Emerald Green Arborvitae, which is equivalent to a cold-hardy, smaller form of Thuja Green Giant, is the top choice. It does grow more slowly (although still fast) and only reaches 12 feet in height, but that is plenty for a hedge or shorter screen, and most importantly it will live happily even in Zone 3 For a taller barrier, consider using spruce. Both blue spruce and Norway spruce are hardy to zones 2 or 3, and if you use a columnar form you will get height to 25 or 30 feet in time, without a lot of spread taking over your garden.

For hot and dry areas in zones 7 or more, the Italian Cypress is the top choice – it’s incredibly heat and drought resistant. The most awkward weather conditions are dry and cold too, but there Spartan Juniper of Blue Spruce are the top two choices for hedges and screens.

How many plants do I need?

This is easy. Measure the space you want to fill. The basic rule for hedges is one-quarter of the mature width, so it depends on that. Don’t just guess, check it out. Thuja Green Giant, for example, has a mature width of 12 feet, so 3 feet apart is the minimum spacing for a hedge – you can add another foot if you are a little more patient. For a screen you can increase this to half the minimum width, so that is 6 feet for Thuja Green Giant, or up to 8 feet if you aren’t in a big hurry. You can read more details on spacing in this recent blog, ‘Proper Spacing is the Key to Successful Hedges and Screens’.

How long will it take to grow?

This is the most common question, but also the hardest to answer. Thuja Green Giant will add 3 feet a year when young, dropping to about half that after 5 or 6 years. Other evergreens are slower, with 2 feet a year when young being a realistic expectation. Thorough soil preparation, correct planting, watering as needed, and a good fertilizer program will all help you to maximize growth, not just in height, but in thickness and density, which are just as important when it comes to screening and hedges. Light trimming will also help to build a thicker, denser hedge more quickly, so don’t wait until it reaches full size before getting out the trimmers.

 

If you sort out these questions first, you will be able to make better choices, and have more success with your new screen or hedge. Before you know it you will have that coveted privacy you are looking for.

 

Thuja Green Giant – How Fast Does It Really Grow?

Here we have the most common question about this tree, and the one where fact and fiction have become twisted together on that most confusing source of knowledge – the internet. Let’s try to untangle that information and get closer to a factual understanding of how fast (and large) it might grow for you, in your location, without the hype, and using some real research to reach our conclusions.

Thuja Green Giant is the most popular evergreen for screening, hedges or specimens in all but the coldest areas of the country, and the hottest and driest. It is hardy from zone 5 to zone 9, which covers most of the country. Its dense evergreen foliage in a rich green color is the perfect backdrop for a garden, and its dense foliage protects your garden from noise and wind. It is also easily grown in most soils, and its toughness, disease and pest resistance, and resistance to deer too, makes it an easy, low-maintenance plant too. Newly planted trees need attention to watering until they become established, but after that Thuja Green Giant will largely take care of itself. It is naturally dense, so it develops into a solid screen even if you never trim it. It also trims easily of course, and it is easy to make beautiful hedges with this tree.

The Growth Rate of Thuja Green Giant

One of the big selling points of Thuja Green Giant is its growth rate. Among evergreens it is probably the fastest grower available, and that ability, and its overall toughness, comes from its hybrid origins. It is a cross between two different Arborvitae species, Japanese Thuja (Thuja standishii) and Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata). This cross was made in Denmark in the 1930s, but it was only after a plant was given to the National Arboretum in Washington that it drew any attention, and only in the 1990s that it became widely available. Since then it has shot to the top in popularity among gardeners. Hybrid plants are usually tougher and more vigorous than either of their parents, and Thuja Green Giant is no exception to that rule. This is why it has a remarkable growth rate. So how fast can it grow? Under average conditions young plants can add 3 and even 4 feet of height each year. Under ideal environmental and climatic conditions it is certainly possible to exceed this, and rates of 5 feet, or perhaps even more, are possible. But for most garden conditions across most of the country, 3 to 4 feet is something you can comfortable expect to see during the early years. We will look later at the different factors that have to be considered to arrive at a realistic estimate in any particular situation, but first, let’s look at some real research that is proven, not just a guess from someone wanting to sell ‘fast-growing trees’.

Back in 1999 the Commercial Horticulture Department of the University of Arkansas established a unique Plant Evaluation Program. Unlike other similar programs using just one site, three sites were established across the state, in three climate zones – zone 6b, 7a and 8a. These allow for comparisons in different climates, assessing both winter hardiness and heat resistance. In 2001 small plants of Thuja Green Giant in 1-gallon pots, were planted at these sites. The trees were planted in full sun, with initial fertilizer and drip irrigation. They were spaced 10 feet apart, and no pest-control or trimming was carried out. Each year the plants were measured, and records kept for 5 years.

The results for Thuja Green Giant were remarkable. At the end of the 5-year period those small plants had an average height just short of 10 feet, and a width of 5 ½ feet. The trees in the warmest location (8a) were 11 ½ feet tall! Even at the coldest (6b) and windiest site they were almost 10 feet tall. The slowest growth was at the zone 7a site, possible due to a period of very wet weather one spring, causing root problems. The years with the fastest growth rate were the second, third, and fourth years, with the plants in the warmest site adding a full 5 feet in their third year alone! The developers of the program (Dr. James Robbins and Dr. Jon Lindstrom) highly recommended Thuja Green Giant as a hedge or screening plant, and it was the fastest-growing evergreen in the trial. See the results here for more details.

What Affects the Growth Rate of Thuja Green Giant?

This careful scientific work tells us that under average conditions Thuja Green Giant will increase its height by 3 to 5 feet in each year. It also sheds some light on the factors that influence that growth, and we also have some other general ways of deciding exactly how much growth to expect.

Climate

Notice how in the Arkansas research the trees grew tallest in the warmest zone. This might seem like ‘common sense’, but it relates more to the length of the growing season than other factors such as winter lows (which are the basis of the USDA zoning system). We see the effect of a longer growing season in many plants. Grasses from warm climates bloom in zone 6 and not in zone 4 because they have more time to develop their blooms, not because it is colder in zone 4 in winter. This is an important distinction, because within a single zone factors such as sun exposure and wind affect the length of the season. Most hardy plants like Thuja Green Giant will not grow below temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees. The higher the total number of days the temperature is above that, the more growth. A shady, windy garden will have fewer days above 50, even in the same zone. As well, steady winds make all plants grow shorter, and in an exposed site you will not get as much height as in a sheltered spot.

Weather

Every year is different, and weather patterns each year are important. You could be unlucky, and encounter a cold, wet summer the year you plant, or the following year. You will not get the same level of growth from your newly-planted Thuja Green Giant if that happens. If, on the other hand, you have an early spring, and many warm, calm days, growth will be greater. As noted in the research, a wet spring seriously slowed the growth at one site, resulting in much shorter plants after 5 years.

Soil and Water

Some soils are fertile, while others are sand or gravel, with low fertility. These soils cannot support the maximum rapid growth a ‘rich, well-drained loam’ (ever gardener’s dream soil) can do. Poorly drained soils will also slow growth, although a steady supply of enough water is necessary to maximize growth. The north-west, where one parent comes from, and Japan, home of the other one, are places with warm but rainy summers, and mild winters. The growing season is long, and Thuja Green Giant is adapted to the typical soils of those areas. So, in America, the north-west is probably the area where the greatest growth – perhaps that elusive 5 feet a year, is most likely to happen. If you live in the dry south-west, even though you have lots of sun and heat, you will not see such a high growth rate.

So What’s the Answer?

We can see from all this that absolute statements about the growth you can expect from Thuja Green Giant are impossible. Is this a fast-growing tree? Definitely yes. What does that mean in your particular garden? You be the judge. What is your zone? What is your soil like? Will you feed and water regularly? How sunny is the place you are planting in? How sheltered is it? What is your soil like? These are just the most important questions you need to ask, but combining it with the data above, you should be able to come to a realistic conclusion for your own garden.

Proper Spacing is the Key to Successful Hedges and Screens

Planting a hedge or screen is an investment – not just in money, but in time and effort. You wouldn’t make a financial investment without planning, and the same goes for planting too. While there are other important things, like soil preparation, correct planting techniques, after-care and good trimming, all of these count for nothing if the basic step of spacing has been neglected. Plant too close and your hedge will become thin at the bottom, with plants dying out as the strongest win in a battle for survival. Plant too far apart and you will first be waiting for ever for it to fill in, and always have an uneven face, with ins and outs, instead of that perfect flat surface that is the sign of a good hedge. So let’s consider how to space your plants correctly, thinking especially of that most popular evergreen of all for hedges and screens – Thuja Green Giant.

Basic Hedge Spacing Rules

For tight hedges – one-quarter of the mature width of your trees

For screening – a little more than half the mature width of your trees

For extra-solid screening – plant a staggered double row

In poor, drought-prone soil – reduce spacing by 25%

Remember to add room for the width too.

Spacing for formal, clipped hedges

Hedges are based on planting close, so that the trees grow together into a continuous mass. But you have to be careful. Sometimes it is recommended to plant root-ball to root-ball, that is, to pack the plants into a trench with the roots touching. Not only does this take a lot of plants, it results in a poor hedge. It does push the plants into growing tall, so you get the height you want quickly. This is probably where the idea came from, and for a few years it can look great, with a nice dense hedge. But after a few more years you will start to see problems. First, some plants will die, as the ones that were a bit more vigorous to start with begin to take over. You will suddenly see plants turning brown, and the foliage falling to the ground. Once they become bare you need to remove them, leaving gaps in your hedge – never what you wanted! Over time the spaces may fill in from the surrounding plants, but until that happens you have a really ugly hedge.

Even if you don’t get gaps, pretty soon the lower parts of the hedge stop growing, and it thins out just where you want it to be thick and green. Eventually the lowest branches begin to die, and your hedge loses that ‘green to the ground’ look that is so desirable.

Much better is to allow enough room for each plant to develop, while keeping them close enough that in a few years they merge into a solid wall. How close is that? If of course varies with the plant you are using. As a rule-of-thumb, check out the mature width of the plant. Taking Thuja Green Giant as an example, the mature width is 12 feet. So take 25-35% of that, and we have 3 or 4 feet. That is the ideal spacing. It’s that simple. The closer spacing will give you a solid hedge sooner, and the wider spacing will save you money by reducing the number of trees you need, but take a little longer to look full.

Spacing for informal rarely-clipped screens

The basic difference between a hedge and a screen is how often you clip it. Screening plants are rarely clipped, or not clipped at all. You might give them a trim or two as they develop, to build denser structure, and then a ‘touch up’ every few years, but that is about it. A hedge is going to be clipped at least once a year, and usually two or even three times, depending on how neat you are, and how much time you have. Especially in warmer areas, plants have a long growing season, so they will need more trimming.

With a screen, we want the plants to grow out naturally until they touch, so in theory we could plant at the same distance as their mature width, but that will take too long, so we usually go closer. Don’t go too close, as the plants will be pushed to grow tall, but stay thinner, which is a recipe for structural weakness as the screen gets taller. So half the mature width is a minimum, which in the case of Thuja Green Giant is around 6 feet. Again, if you are in a hurry you could reduce that to 5 feet, but don’t go any closer. You could stretch it to 8 or even 10 feet to reduce the cost, but if you need a visual barrier that will take a while at such a wide spacing.

A double row makes a denser screen

If you have plenty of room available, and you want a really solid barrier – perhaps for sound protection for example, then a double row is the way to go. This can be done for a hedge or a screen, and the method is to plant in two rows, at a wider spacing, with each plant staggered, so that the plants in one row sit in the spaces between the plants of the other row.  Even though the spacing is increased, this method does take more plants, but if a really solid barrier is your goal, then double rows are the way to go. For Thuja Green Giant, space the rows 3 feet apart for a clipped hedge, and 5 feet apart for an informal screen. In each row, a wider spacing of between 5 and 8 feet is good for a hedge, and 8 to 12 feet for a screen.

Planting double rows properly requires careful measuring and lay-out, otherwise you will lose the staggered effect. Careful layout is always needed really – that hedge or screen will be there a long time, and any spacing irregularities will glare at you for years to come!

My soil is very poor, and often dry

It is worth making allowances for poor soil conditions too. Rocky or sandy soil, especially if it is often dry, will reduce the growth of any plant, so you need to compensate for that by planting tighter. Reducing all the above spacings by 20 – 25% will do it, and give you something solid, even under poor conditions.

Don’t forget the width

A common mistake of inexperienced gardeners is to plant a screen or hedge right on the property line, or in a space too narrow for the plants. If your hedge impinges on neighboring property, they can cut it right back to the property line, so plant well inside it. Plant 6 feet inside for a large plant like Thuja Green Giant, or a little less for something narrower. That way all the plant will be on your property, and under your protection.

Similarly, when planning a hedge, especially along a path or driveway, set the back by 3 feet for a hedge and 5 feet for a screen, when using a large plant like Thuja Green Giant. Smaller plants will need a little less, but you don’t want your path to disappear in a few years – working with small plants can be deceptive, so do plenty of measuring!