Soil Preparation for Planting Thuja Green Giant

Although Thuja Green Giant is certainly the toughest hedging plant around, it still benefits from some attention, especially during the planting phase. Fall is also the best season for soil preparation, even if you are not planting until spring, so this seems like an excellent time to talk about preparing the ground for planting, either now, or in the spring

Should Thuja Green Giant be Planted in Spring?

This question is worth asking before we get down to the details of soil preparation, and it doesn’t have a simple answer. It depends a lot on where you live. If you are in the warmer zones, let’s say 7 and above, then planting in fall and early winter, while the ground is not frozen, is a smart choice. You may only have limited soil freezing, or none at all, where you are. If that is so, then you can plant all through the winter, especially if your new plants are well-established ones, coming to you in pots.

The colder your winters, the more you should consider planting in spring – at least once September has passed by, since that is an excellent planting month just about anywhere. As the soil gets colder, and soon freezes hard, the risk of some winter injury increases. So in zone 5, especially if you border zone 4, then spring planting is the better option once we reach October and November.

When is the Best Time to Prepare the Soil?

Having settled that issue, let’s look at our main theme, which is preparing the ground for planting, whenever it is going to take place. If you do opt for spring planting, then fall is the best time to prepare the ground. You probably have much less to do in the garden, besides rake leaves, so you will put more time into getting the ground ready. Letting a dug area rest over winter is also invaluable, so rather than a hasty job while the plants sit impatiently in their pots, do your soil preparation in fall and winter.

The Basics of Soil Preparation

The goal of good soil preparation is to create an environment for your plants that will encourage them to send their roots far and wide. As well, we want them to find lots of tasty treats along the way, that will feed them, and develop vigorous, sturdy growth. To achieve that we want a wide, deep area of the ground dug over. For a hedge planted in a single row, an area at least 3 feet wide should be prepared. If you are planting a double row, then make the planting area 18 inches wider on both sides than the distance between the rows. As this is commonly 3 feet, the prepared area will be 6 feet wide. If you are planting individual trees, or a widely-spaced screening, then you can prepare individual holes. These should be dug 3 to 4 feet wide, even though of course the actual planting hole will be much smaller.

As for the depth, most tree roots – even for large trees – are found in the top 12 inches, so ideally that should be the depth the ground is dug to. That is about the depth of a full-sized spade pushed completely down into the ground. When using a rototiller achieving this can be trickier, and we will look at that a bit further down.

That takes care of the first essential – space for the roots to spread. The second goal is to improve the soil by making it drain better, and by enriching it with materials that improve its quality in the long term, while providing a steady supply of nutrients to your plants.

Organic material is the ‘magic black gold’ for improving soil. Unlike fertilizers, it improves the soil itself, rather than just supplying plant nutrients. The top choice is well-rotted animal manure, from cows, sheep or horses. This is the mixture of straw and dung from sheds and stables, that has been piled up for a few months until it turns dark brown and crumbly. It has become increasingly hard to find, but garden centers often sell it in bags, or your local soil merchant may have it in bulk. In some areas there is a commercial mushroom industry, and the material used for growing mushrooms is an excellent compost. If you have your own garden and kitchen compost, that too is great. Other materials are available, different in different areas, so if you can’t find any of these, consult your local garden center for the best substitutes. Peat moss is acceptable, but low down on the list, since it has few nutrients, and can repel water when it dries. It also rots too rapidly, and the benefits are soon lost.

The ‘magic’ of organic material is that whatever type of soil you have, it will be improved. In sandy soil the material will increase the ability of your soil to hold water, and give it more nutrients. In clay soil it will open larger spaces, giving you better drainage. As well, natural gums and resins will bind together the tiny clay particles into bigger clusters, allowing air and water to move more freely through the soil. In all soils the gradual decay of the organic matter will act like a slow-release fertilizer, keeping your plants growing vigorously.

In some areas the soil is naturally low in phosphates, so super-phosphate or bone-meal are useful additions when preparing the ground. 5 pounds of superphosphate will be enough for a hedge area 100 feet long. Starter fertilizers for hedges, if you choose to use them, should be added, at planting time, not when preparing the soil in advance.

Digging the Ground

Once you have your organic material ready, rent the largest rototiller you can for a day (or two if the hedge is going to be very long). Begin by scattering that super-phosphate over the soil, it is important that it be dug into the ground, not sprinkled over the top of the area after the work is all done. Now spread the organic material at least 2 inches thick. On poor soil, you can easily double that. Dig the ground as deeply as you can. With a rototiller you may need to go over the area two or three times, working the tiller deeper each time, to get down to the full depth. The first pass over the ground might look good, but it will usually be too shallow. If you are leaving this bed until spring, leave it rough This allows the frost to penetrate, and if you have a clay soil, this will produce a better soil texture. If you are planting soon, rake it level and leave for a few days, if you can, for the ground to settle, otherwise delay raking until spring.

After all this work you deserve to stand back and admire the prepared bed, ready to take your new plants. You have done a fantastic job, and the growth and health you see in your new hedge will be your reward. Well done.

How Do I Plant Thuja Green Giant?

Learning to grow plants is an exciting experience, but it can be scary too. We take the lives of these young plants in our hands. You set out wanting an attractive screen or hedge, but then one day a bunch of plants arrives at your door and you have to do something with them! If you aren’t used to working with plants, this suddenly becomes a nervous time. “What do I do now? Will I kill them? Help!” are common responses to this sudden crisis of confidence. If you are here, this is probably your situation. So relax. Sit down. It’s going to be fine. We will take you through all the ‘obvious’ things that aren’t so obvious to a beginner, and so always get left out of the planting guides you might already have looked at. We are going to start with the basic basics, and get those plants in the ground and ready to grow.

Unpack Your New Plants

The first thing to do is to open up the packaging or boxes your plants arrived in. They have been carefully wrapped to protect them during shipping, but now they want to be let free again. Don’t make the mistake of keeping the boxes closed up. Don’t make the mistake of leaving those boxes indoors. Even if it is cold outside, they don’t need or want to be kept warm and protected.

So your first job is to unwrap them completely. Take them out of the boxes, wrapping paper, plastic bags, cardboard, or whatever else they are wrapped in. Carefully cut the tape and unwrap them – don’t try to pull them free without first cutting the wrapping. You could easily snap branches, or loosen the roots. If there is any string around the plant, cut through that and remove it completely. Makes sure you don’t leave any loops still tied on, as these could strangle the trunk or stems as the plant grows larger. Look carefully, these could be hidden by the foliage.

Now take them outdoors, and place them in a sunny or brightly lit place. They have been in the dark for a few days, and they will want to re-build their reserves with the magic of photosynthesis, so they need to be in bright light or full sun. If you have room, spread them out a little, rather than packing them close together, where damp or darkness could weaken some branches, turning them yellow.

Care Before Planting

While you are moving your plants outside, take a look at the soil. Do the pots feel heavy or light? If they feel light, that is a clear sign that water is needed. If they feel heavy, even if the top of the soil looks dry, they probably don’t need watering. If they feel light, or you can see a gap between the soil and the pot, then they need water right away. It is normal to ship plants when they are a little dry – they travel better that way. Now they are outside again, they need a drink. Water each pot thoroughly, so that some water runs out of the bottom of the pot. If they seem very dry, placing each pot into a bucket half full of water, and leaving it for a few minutes before taking it out again, is a good way to get them thoroughly watered.

If you keep an eye on them for water, there is no hurry to plant your Thuja Green Giant. They will grow happily in the pots for days or even a few weeks, while you get the planting area prepared. In hot weather they might need water every day, so don’t neglect them at this stage, but always wait until the soil has dried a little.

Preparing the Planting Site

Preparing the ground for planting is the most important thing you can do to help your new plants become that hedge of your dreams. It is also the hardest job, and the one that takes the most time, but every minute is a worthwhile investment in the future of your plants. Dig the soil as deeply as you can. The full depth of a spade is ideal, or if you use a rototiller, go over the ground several times until it is dug as deeply as possible. Dig the whole length of your hedge, not just where the individual plants are going. If that is not possible, then prepare an area at least 3 feet across for each plant. The strip you prepare should be at least 3 feet wide. Add some organic material to the soil as you dig. This could be garden compost, animal manure, rotted leaves, peat moss, or just about anything you have. Don’t use things like bark mulch, or other woody materials, but anything else will be fine, as long as it is well-rotted.

Planting Thuja Green Giant

Now you have prepared the area, its planting time! This is the fun part, and if the ground has been prepared well, it won’t take long. Water the pots the night before you intend to plant, and if the ground is dry, water the planting area too.

Now, place the plants where they are to go. Use a tape to measure the spacing you have chosen, which could be 3, 5 or even 8 feet, depending on your purpose, and whether you are using a single or a double row. Your hedge or screen will look so much better if the spacing is even, so don’t just eyeball it, use a tape.

Dig a hole in the prepared ground the same depth as the pot, and a little wider. Since you have already prepared the ground, it doesn’t need to be very big. Mix some DIEHARD Starter Fertilizer into the soil you removed, and into the base of the planting hole. This will get your plants off to a flying start.

Remove the tree from the pot, and take a sharp knife or box-cutter. You will probably see a lot of roots coiling around the root-ball, and you need to cut through some of these, so that they don’t strangle the plant in years to come, as they grow thicker. So cut from the top to the bottom of the root-ball, about one inch deep, at three places around the ball. Don’t be afraid you will hurt the trees, you won’t.

Place the plant in the hole, and turn it if necessary to give you the best-looking side facing you. Adjust its position so that the top of the root-ball is about an inch above the surrounding soil level. Put back most of the soil, pressing it down with your feet as you go, until you have replaced about two-thirds of the soil. The soil should be firm. Fill the hole to the top with water, and wait until it drains away. Now put back the rest of the soil, mounding it up a little to just cover the root-ball. You don’t want the root-ball buried deeply, as this can lead to all sorts of problems for your new friends. You can give another watering if you want, but it is not essential. Put a couple of inches of mulch over the root area, or even the whole planting strip, but don’t let it touch the stem or foliage of your plants.

Aftercare

Once you have stood back and admired your work, all you have to do now is water your new plants twice a week for the first month or two, and then once a week for the rest of the season. By next year you can move to a regular maintenance program of watering, fertilizing and trimming. With Thuja Green Giant you won’t have long to wait before your hedge is full-grown – enjoy!

5 Reasons why Thuja Green Giant is the Right Choice

Choosing the right plant for hedges and screens gives lots of people headaches. Evergreen? Deciduous? Fast-growing? Drought-resistant? These thoughts spin through your head, and even after choosing, we still wonder if we got it right. Let’s take that load off your brain, and give you some solid reasons why, for most locations, Thuja Green Giant is the plant to choose when you are replacing an old hedge, or planning a new one.

Reason 1: It’s really, really, fast-growing

It’s a busy world, and no one wants to wait forever. It makes a lot of sense to choose the plant that will give you a hedge as soon as possible. Thuja Green Giant is it. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the experts. In trials at the University of Arkansas, they planted several small plants of all the popular hedging plants, in a field. They didn’t do much, just kept the weeds down and watered a little in the early years. After 7 years, the Thuja Green Giants were head and shoulders above all the competition, and they were 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. That is a solid hedge – imagine in you had planted at the recommended spacing of 3 feet apart.

Now other sites will claim 3, 4 and even 5 feet of growth a year, but they don’t have the figures to prove it – it’s a hollow claim. Young plants can have spurts, especially in ideal soil, with good watering and a top fertilizer program. A year with 3 feet of growth is not only possible, but reasonably achievable. But those profs at the University did the work, and showed us that over the long haul, you can expect a solid 15 inches a year, and 24 inches in a good year. The important thing is that this is faster than any other evergreen around. Period. Nothing more to say. So if you want fast growth, choose Thuja Green Giant.

Reason 2: It’s deer resistant

Deer are funny animals. There is no guarantee that they won’t eat your socks if you take them off. When they are hungry enough they will eat anything at all. So there are reports out there that deer have eaten Thuja Green Giant. But there are not many, and the vast majority of people who have grown this terrific plant agree that it is deer-resistant. It is up there with spruce and fir on a deer’s ‘eat this only if you are really starving’ list. Unlike other kinds of arborvitae, like white cedar, that are top of the ‘yummy’ list, and are a magnet for deer anywhere. Since they will, at worse, take just a nibble and then move on, with its fast growth rate, you won’t even notice after a month of recovery in the spring. So say ‘goodbye’ to worrying about deer and your Green Giant hedge.

Reason 3: It grows in many kinds of soil

You have seen the list – sandy-loam, loamy-sand, sandy-loam-clay, silty-clay. It goes on and on, but those soil scientists need a thorough system to do their job. If you grow Thuja Green Giant, however, you don’t. You don’t need to worry at all about that complex stuff. Just ask yourself – is the spot I am thinking of always wet? If the answer is ‘No’, then go ahead and plant. Of all the evergreens, Thuja Green Giant is the most versatile when it comes to soil. It really is not fussy, and will grow in most types of soil, from sand to clay. It just won’t grow in a swamp. If that is what you have, I recommend Swamp Cypress – seriously. For everyone else, there is Thuja Green Giant.

The secret to getting plants to do well in all kinds of soil is to add organic material when you prepare the planting area. It doesn’t matter much what you use – home-made compost, rotted manure, rotted leaves, peat-moss, whatever you have, just use it. Spread a thick layer, at least 2 inches deep, and rototill it well into the ground, going as deep as you can. This will get your plants off to a flying start in any soil at all.

Reason 4: it’s easy to clip into a beautiful hedge

Thuja Green Giant is a plant that clips beautifully, and stays green right to the ground. Just what you want for the perfect hedge you are looking for. It isn’t thorny, spiny, or with sharp needles. The more you clip, the denser and denser it becomes. If you trim regularly, so that you just take off a couple of inches, you don’t even need to clean up – just sweep or blow the clippings back under the hedge. They will act as the perfect mulch, keeping weeds away, conserving water, and slowly adding nutrients as they decompose.

There is just one tip on clipping this plant. Make sure you slope the side inwards just a little. Keep it flat, like a wall, but lean the wall inwards a few degrees. This will not even show, but it will keep the lowest branches growing strongly, so that you have foliage right to the ground. This will also keep the top narrower, so that snow and freezing rain won’t get in there and break it down.

Actually, I lied. There is a second tip – and that is to start clipping as soon as your plants start to grow. Just a little, even an inch will do it. Clipping from an early age encourages dense branching, and gives you the best looking mature hedge.

Reason 5: It’s virtually pest and disease free

Compared to other fast-growing hedging plants, Thuja Green Giant resists all the important plant pests and diseases. Leyland Cypress is another fast-growing hedging plant that is very popular. But in many areas it is susceptible to branch canker and dieback caused by some nasty fungal diseases. This can really play havoc with your hedging, and the good news is that these diseases do not bother Thuja Green Giant.

There have been reports that, like other arborvitae, this tree is popular with bag-worms, and that seems to be true. But this pest is minor, and it advertises its presence, with a small ‘bag’ made of needles and webbing. If you keep an eye on your plants in early spring, and remove any bags you find, then you will not have problems with this pest. Since the females can’t fly, they spread slowly, and once you are free of them, you will probably stay that way. Other than that, there is really nothing else that will threaten your beautiful hedge.

We have seen five good reasons why you are making the right choice when you choose Thuja Green Giant to grow that beautiful hedge you want. It will do a terrific job for you, and you can be sure there is nothing better out there.

How Far Apart Do You Plant Thuja Green Giant?

This question, on the spacing of Thuja Green Giant, is one that is asked more than any other. No wonder. When it comes to getting the best out of your plants, it is certainly the most important thing you want to get right. Plant too close and your trees will struggle with each other for space, eventually killing the weakest plants and creating gaps. Plant too far apart, and you will be waiting too long for the solid effect you are looking for. It would be great if there was one, single ‘right’ answer, but spacing depends on your purpose, so it varies from one situation to another. To answer the question, we need to consider what it is you are trying to achieve with these plants, and what is best for the plants. So let’s explore in more detail the different issues with spacing, and see what answers we can give to this important question.

Planting Distances for Thuja Green Giant:

  • Privacy screen – 5 to 10 feet apart, or 8 to 12 feet in two rows 5 feet apart
  • Tall hedge – 5 feet apart, or 8 feet apart in two rows 3 feet apart
  • Shorter hedge (below 8 feet tall) – 3 feet apart, or 5 feet apart in two rows 3 feet apart
  • Single specimen – add together the mature widths of the Thuja and the nearest other plant, and divide by 4. The answer is the number of feet apart they should be planted
  • Specimen grouping – 15 to 18 feet apart
  • Part of a windbreak – in a row, 10 or 12 feet apart

Thuja Green Giant as a Privacy Screen

One of the most popular ways of using this evergreen is for privacy. No one wants to wait years and years for privacy in their garden. A tree that grows 3 to 5 feet in a year makes sense, it will quickly give you the height you want. For a privacy screen, you will not be trimming your trees, or at least not very often, so their growth will be more or less natural. Left alone, this tree will become about 30 feet tall, and about 12 feet wide in 10 or 12 years. For a dense screen, and to allow each plant plenty of room to develop fully, space your trees 5 feet apart. The plants will meet up in just a few years, and privacy will be yours. If you are not in a big hurry, or you don’t need a really dense screen, just some general privacy, you can space them up to 10 feet apart. Any further apart and they will not grow together. An alternative to the basic single row is to use a staggered double row. With this planting, each plant in one row sits in the space between the plants of the other row. Using this method, space the rows 5 feet apart, with the trees 8 to 12 feet apart in the rows. This creates a very dense, full screen, yet it leaves plenty of room for good development of the plants.

Planted as a Clipped Hedge

Hedges come in many sizes, so give some thought to how tall you want it to be. A useful tip is to join some bamboo poles together and have someone hold them up at different heights, while you look at what is hidden below that height when you are at the important places in your garden. You might be surprised at the results. Remember that you don’t want a hedge that is taller than necessary. Tall hedges take more time to clip, and are more difficult to clip, so go with just the minimum height you need.

For a hedge you want a closer spacing, as the goal is to have plenty of density to create a flat surface. For a shorter hedge, up to about 8 feet tall, space the plants 3 feet apart in a single row. Again, double row planting will give a very dense hedge, and for that, space the rows 3 feet apart and the plants 5 feet apart.

For a taller hedge, increase those distances to 5 feet in a single row, or 8 feet apart in a double row. Keep the rows 3 feet apart for any size hedge, and always line-up the plants in one row in the spaces of the other row.

Planted as a Single Specimen

At first glance you might think this is an odd question – surely you just put a specimen wherever you want? If this is a lawn specimen, the you’re correct – just remember to keep it at least 6 feet away from a wall, driveway or path. But what if you are planting a Thuja Green Giant among other trees and shrubs? There is a simple rule for this. Take the width of the Green Giant when mature, and add it to the mature width of the tree nearest it. Divide this sum by four, and that is the spacing. For example, if you are putting a Green Giant near a Skip Laurel, we add together 12, the width of the Green Giant, and 28, the width of the Laurel. This gives us 40, which divided by 4 is 10. So we put the two plants 10 feet apart. That was easy!

Thuja Green Giant in a Grouping

An attractive way to use this plant in a larger garden is in groups. These will fill corners, block something ugly, or screen you from a window. As well, the cluster of beautiful conical trees is an attractive garden feature. We want the plants to be close enough to look like a unit, but far enough apart to stay as separate trees. Unless you want a very formal look, you probably won’t be trimming these trees.

To begin, always make clusters of odd numbers of plants. Three trees in a cluster looks great – so does five trees, or even 7 in a large space. Since a mature plant is around 12 feet wide, a spacing of 15 to 18 feet apart will keep that cluster as a unit, but still leave each tree separate from the other ones. Much closer and in a while you will have a big lump. Much further apart and they will look lonely and isolated.

Using Thuja Green Giant in Windbreaks

Finally, this tree is great for building windbreaks on a large property. A windbreak combines several distinct kinds of trees, both deciduous and evergreen, along with large shrubs, to make a natural barrier to wind, snow and dust. A windbreak creates a natural oasis inside it, with less wind and significantly warmer conditions. Then you can grow your main garden in a protected location.

A key component of a windbreak is a row of medium-sized evergreens, that have branches to the ground. This row is placed on the windward side of the break, in front of taller trees. It shelters them as they grow, and they eventually grow up above it. Thuja Green Giant is a great choice for this important row. It is wind-resistant as well as fast-growing, so it soon does its job. Planted this way, we want the trees to just touch at maturity, so between 10 and 12 feet apart does the job perfectly.

In Conclusion

You can see that there is no single spacing for every use of this fabulous tree. Think about what you are growing it for, and choose the best spacing for the job you want done. Thuja Green Giant won’t let you down.

Perfect Potted Trees – Thuja Green Giant

Everyone knows Thuja Green Giant as a hedging or screening plant – probably the best choice around. But evergreens have many other uses in the garden, and one popular use for them is as potted trees. These green specimens are perfect for the corners of a patio, on either side of an entrance, or lined up along a walkway. With the right choice of pot, they will enhance almost any garden style. Italian terracotta pots look perfect in a formal garden. Modern concrete ones bring to life the most modernist and minimalist designs. Big half-barrels look perfect in a country garden. Yew trees are popular choices for this purpose, but they are slow-growing, and take years to develop good form. Laurel are sometimes used, but trimming has to be carefully done, as the large leaves look unattractive with cut ends. For a plant that will mature in just a few years, is easy to clip into a variety of forms, grows large enough to make substantial specimens, and survives cold and drought, with never a pest in sight, it is hard to go past Thuja Green Giant. Always bright green no matter what the season, and quickly developing a tight, dense structure with clipping, this great plant can stand tall in any garden as a beautiful potted tree.

Choosing the Right Pot

Your choice of pot will be dictated by the overall design and theme of your garden, as we have already mentioned. There are some things that you need to consider for any pot, whatever its design. These basics are:

  • Drainage – make sure the pot you choose, whatever its design or the material it is made from, has at least one large drainage hole in it. For large pots two or three holes is ideal. If you find the perfect pot, but it has no drainage, then it is possible to drill out suitable holes. Wooden barrels are of course no problem, but concrete and terracotta can be tricky. Use a slow-drill speed, and turn off the hammer action. Use a masonry bit and trickle water onto the hole as you go. Drill a guide hole with a narrow diameter drill, and finish with a larger one. If you can, drilling from the inside while the pot is bedded on some sand will reduce vibrations and prevent cracking. Take your time, especially towards the end, to avoid shattering, and you will soon have perfect drainage in any container.
  • Material – choose something durable. There are some attractive plastic or fiber-glass pots available, but if these are very light you may find tall plants blowing over. Place a couple of large stones or bricks in the bottom to add weight if you use a container like that. Terracotta is an excellent choice, as it ‘breathes’, and by losing water through its surface draws air into the soil. This is ideal for vigorous trees like Thuja Green Giant, and for long-term growing.
  • Size – Thuja Green Giant is suitable for creating larger potted plants – 6 feet or taller. You need a container large enough to hold such a plant, so choose something that is between 18 and 24 inches in diameter, and about the same depth. In pots of this size your trees will live for years happily, as long as you water and feed them correctly.
  • Soil – Never use garden soil for potting. It is too dense, and holds too much water. Instead, use soils designed for outdoor planters, which are often available at garden centers and hardware stores. If you can’t find one, then use regular houseplant potting soil and add 15 or 20% composted bark, or shredded bark, like that used for mulch. This will open up the soil so it drains well, and also reduce shrinkage. Some gardeners add a little garden soil too – perhaps 10 or 15% – which helps the soil last longer and adds stable nutrients. This is not essential, but if your garden soil is rich and fertile, adding a little is worthwhile.

Taking Care of Thuja Green Giant in Containers

Thuja Green Giant is almost as easy to care for in a container as it is in the ground. A little attention will go a long way to keep your plants in top condition and looking their best.

  • Watering – this of course is the most basic attention needed. The rule is simple – water only when the top few inches are dry, and always water thoroughly until a little water flows out of the drainage hole. That’s it. Simple. In hot weather this might be every few days, while in the winter, waterings could be a couple of weeks apart. Let the soil tell you what to do, and never just give a small amount.
  • Fertilizer – the big difference between plants in pots and those in the garden is in fertilizing. Potted plants should be fertilized regularly, and a liquid fertilizer is best. You can also use slow-release granules sprinkled over the top of the soil. These release some nutrients every time you water, and one application can last all season. Whatever you use, follow the directions carefully. The season for fertilizing runs from early spring to early fall, and use a product designed for evergreens, such as a hedge food.
  • Pests – the simple answer here is that you almost certainly won’t have any if you are growing Thuja Green Giant. It is such a tough plant that insects and diseases leave it alone.

Trimming Thuja Green Giant

The wonderful thing about using this plant for containers is how quickly it will grow into the shape you want. You can create any simple geometrical form easily – straight or tapering columns – round or square; pyramids; large balls; or whatever your imagination suggests. The ‘secret’ to trimming is to trim off small amounts at a time, and do it regularly. While a big hedge can perhaps be left for a while, and will quickly recover from a hard trimming, you want your potted trees to look their best at all time, so ‘little and often’ is the key. This will create beautiful green surfaces of dense foliage, and give you the look you want. Always use sharp tools, and remember that hand-shears will give you the best control with something relatively small like a potted tree.

 

If you have been looking for suitable evergreens for large containers, to decorate your garden, or for a courtyard or terrace, Thuja Green Giant might not have been your first thought. But such a fast-growing plant is ideal for this, because it will very quickly develop into the shape you want – much more quickly than other evergreens will. Because it is in a pot, once established it will slow in growth, so you can easily keep it the shape and size you want. For the perfect all-year-round green column, it should be your first choice.

Fall – The Best Time to Plant Thuja Green Giant

Still the most popular hedging and screening plant around, Thuja Green Giant really gives its best in your garden. For a reliable, fast-growing and tough hedge, it can’t be beaten. When you have made the decision to plant this terrific evergreen, then timing is important, and the question of when is the best time of year often comes up from beginner gardeners.

With plants growing in pots, it is possible to plant any time the ground is not frozen, and deciding when may not be a matter of choice – you need that hedge, and you need it now. The availability of potted plants makes that possible, None the less, there are good times, and not-so-good times to plant. The middle of summer, with its heat and dryness, is probably the worst time, as you will need to be watering almost constantly, and root-growth into the surrounding soil will be minimal. As for the best time, there is really no doubt, it is early fall. Let’s see why that is.

The Soil is Warm and Moist

We often say that when it comes to plants, ‘it’s the soil, stupid!’ With fall planting, that is certainly true. Fall often begins with an extended period of rain, and falling onto soil that is hot from the summer, the result is moist, warm soil – ideal for the growth of roots. Contrast that with spring planting, when the soil is cold and wet. If you live in areas where the frost goes deep into the ground, you might even have frozen layers still below the surface in spring, so you are effectively planting onto an ice pack. In that environment, water moves slowly, and there is little oxygen in the soil. Dangerous microbes thrive in these low-oxygen conditions, and they can attack the young roots of your Thuja Green Giant, setting up a struggle for survival that certainly slows down the establishment of your plants.

In that warm, moist fall ground, good microbes are active, releasing nutrients, and protecting your plants. The roots divide and divide rapidly, and if you have prepared the ground well, they quickly penetrate deep into the ground.

The Air is Cool

In contrast, the air temperatures of fall are low, especially at night, and it is a fact that the roots of your Thuja Green Giant grow well in temperatures that would stop the top growth all together. The top is prevented from growing by the cool air, so all the energy of the plant goes into establishing a wide and deep root system.

In spring the opposite is true. Then the ground is so cold that even roots don’t want to grow, yet the warm days stimulate new shoots. It is easy to make the mistake of thinking that rapid growth of new leaves means your plant is doing well. If it is newly-planted, that may not really be true. Sooner or later the roots will have to catch up, or the top growth will suffer. If you have a spring heat-wave and drought, something that is common, then it is easy for the roots to dry out, fail to supply the leaves with enough water, and we see die-back. At the very least, you will have a lot of work keeping your new hedge watered. In fall, those first rains are almost always followed by more, so a steady moist soil is yours, with no work needed.

There is Plenty of Time

The most common cause of poor establishment in spring is the rapid arrival of summer. Spring planting is often a narrow window, between frozen ground and summer drought. Spring flowers know that – which is why they burst out of the ground and flower so quickly. There is no time to spare. If you are a bit late in planting, or summer comes early, then your plants are not established, and you are facing a summer of endless watering, not what you want at all.

In fall, we are pretty much guaranteed a couple of months of mild, damp weather. This gives your plants plenty of time to establish their roots, without facing drought or heat. Obviously a much better situation for good establishment.

What about Winter?

At this point somebody will be thinking, “But won’t my plants suffer in winter, if I plant them in fall?” This is a common idea, but one that is not true. If you live in a zone where Thuja Green Giant has no problem with winter (which would be zone 5), then neither will young plants. The earlier in fall you plant, the better – September beats November, without a doubt. The secret is to allow enough time for the roots to spread out and establish themselves, before soil temperatures get close to freezing, and root growth stops. But you have a big window, depending on where exactly you are – certainly from Labor Day to mid-October, and usually all the way to Halloween. Just a few weeks, under these ideal conditions for root growth, is all it takes.

If you do find yourself delayed, and don’t plant until close to freeze-up, then spray your plants with an anti-desiccant coating, just to be sure. These treatments are excellent for evergreens, and they protect from winter-burn very effectively. Use them even on established evergreens if you want to see perfect green in spring, particularly in colder regions.

Ready for Spring

The greatest thing of all about fall planting is that by spring, your plants will be ready to take off – and put on lots of strong new growth. They will have the root-development to support vigorous stem extension and a dramatic increase in height.

Thuja Green Giants that are well-established when spring arrives can take advantage of the season to really get going, and they will take the summer much better too. You can pretty much guarantee that the same size plants, one batch planted in September, and the other in April, will not make the same growth. By the end of their first summer the ones planted in fall will be significantly taller and bushier than their spring-planted equals. It is from plants such as these that the measurements of over 3 feet in growth a year are taken. Fall planted, well-established by spring, and fertilized and watered as needed.

Save Money Too

Oh, there is one more thing. Nurseries often put their plants on sale in fall. So there are really substantial savings to be had. Plus, many sellers offer free shipping. As well, the plants you receive have already had a season being cared for by the nursery, so they are solidly the height advertised, and you get an extra ‘growth bonus’ too.

 

Taken together, all these factors tell us that fall planting of Thuja Green Giant is the way to go. If you are planning a hedge, but thought you would wait till spring, think again, get your order in, and plant in fall. You won’t regret it.

Instant Hedge, or Let It Grow?

The decision to start small and grow a hedge from young plants, or invest in larger plants and get an instant result, is a perennial question the comes up with Thuja Green Giant, and other hedging plants as well. There is no ‘one answer fits all’, but there are certainly several considerations that help guide the decision. Let’s look at some of the issues, and the best way to handle your plants – big or small.

Growth Rate and Cost

It is obviously cheaper to plant a hedge with smaller plants, and the great thing is, that with Thuja Green Giant, the growth rate of young plants is high – they slow down as they get older. Young trees that are 1 to 3 feet tall might grow 3 or even 4 feet in the second year after planting – or in the first one if you plant in late winter. So they will often ‘catch up’ with larger plants. After 7 years, your small plants will be 10 feet tall, or more, and the ones you planted when they were big might easily be not much taller. That growth rate was demonstrated at the University of Arkansas, so it really is a reliable and accurate figure.

Privacy Issues

Instant privacy is the usual reason for investing in large plants, in the 5 to 6-foot range. You know how it goes – you move into a new home, or perhaps a new one goes up next to you, and suddenly you are overlooked by neighbors. We all love our neighbors, but we don’t really want to become a reality TV-show for them, so the desire for privacy is natural. With 6-foot trees, you instantly gain privacy from anyone walking on the ground, and even from most ground-floor windows. The extra cost is often worth it, for the peace of mind you gain by an instant solution.

On the other hand, if you don’t have an urgent need, then plant something smaller – they won’t take long to catch up, as we have already discussed. Use the money you save to buy beautiful and interesting shrubs and trees to decorate that beautiful private space you are creating with your Thuja Green Giants. Those trees and shrubs will grow along with your hedge, and in a few short years you will have a beautiful private garden to enjoy.

Planting Larger Thuja Green Giant Trees

When planting larger trees, there are some things to pay more attention to, so that you get the best and quickest establishment, and the fastest growth to add more feet to your hedge or screen. First, dig a wide area of ground for them. Three feet wide is not too much. One of the mistakes often made is to dig holes just big enough to take the root-ball, with little or nowhere broken up for the roots to grow into. This is a big mistake, and will certainly slow down growth very much. Instead, use a tiller to save yourself the work of hand-digging, and prepare an area 12 inches deep and 36 to 48 inches across. Add plenty of organic material, and a starter fertilizer as well. Break up the ground thoroughly, but don’t try to bring in new soil. That is almost always a mistake – put the effort instead into top-quality organic material, and dig in a layer 3 or 4 inches deep.

When you plant bigger trees, it is best to dig a trench the width of the pots all along the planting area, rather than dig individual holes. You can more easily get the spacing even that way, and even spacing will give you a solid hedge quickly. Make sure to water the trees well the day before, and use a sharp knife to cut an inch or so into the root ball at three points around the root-ball and in a cross on the bottom, after you carefully remove the pot. Place the plants in the trench right away, and don’t lift them by the stems, lift the root ball, or you may cause it to break apart. Water thoroughly.

Big trees will benefit from regular watering and liquid fertilizers during the first year, and always water the surrounding soil, not just at the stem, so that the roots quickly spread outwards.

Planting Smaller Thuja Green Giant

If you are using trees in the 1 to 4-foot range, the most common mistake is to plant them too closely together. Use the same spacing, no matter what size your trees are. If you buy a lot of small trees, and crowd them together, many will die, and the strongest will be slowed down by the smaller ones, that act like ‘weeds’ and steal water and nutrients. Over time they will naturally thin out, but not in the neat way you might like – more like a mouth of broken teeth!

Even though your trees are small, still prepare the wide area we have already described. You want the roots to spread out and find water and nutrients from the surrounding soil, and they can do that best in well-prepared soil.

The best spacing depends on the final goal. If you plan on keeping your hedge around 8 feet tall or less, then a 3-foot spacing is best. Those small plants are going to look too far apart, but really, this is the right thing to do. Without competition from each other they will grow wider, taller and be much healthier. They will grow so fast, before you know it they will be touching each other and building a strong screen for you. For a taller screen, use a 4 or 5 foot spacing. A double row, with 3 feet between the rows, and 5 to 8 feet between the plants, depending on the final height, will give you the thickest and densest hedge possible.

Young trees have small root systems, so they really benefit from regular applications of a suitable liquid hedge fertilizer. Follow the directions on the brand you buy, and apply from spring to early fall, at the frequency recommended. With most liquid fertilizers, you can safely increase the frequency if you reduce the concentration. Double the frequency, but half the concentration is the usual rule. That way you provide a steadier supply of nutrients, and you will have taller, bushier plants by the end of the season.

 

Whatever your choice – big or small – you can be sure that if you have chosen Thuja Green Giant for your hedge or screen, the result is going to be a gorgeous, healthy hedge or screen, rich green all year round, tough and reliable, and the perfect backdrop and privacy barrier for your garden.

Cordless Hedge Trimmer Review

Almost everyone plants Thuja Green Giant as a hedge, or a screen. Trimming is part of the routine of keeping your hedges neat and tidy, and to do that well, a power trimmer is a great addition to your arsenal of gardening tools. It is worth buying a good-quality unit, as the savings in time and frustration will soon cover any extra dollars involved.

Traditionally, the choices were between gasoline and electric trimmers, but today there are machines on the market that bring some interesting new options. If you have used a gasoline trimmer, then you know about the noise and smell they create. Added to that is a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the CO2 emissions as well. So while gasoline has the advantage of portability, these issues mean that gas trimmers are not as desirable as they once were.

The second choice was electric, but the long cord trailing across the yard is always a problem, especially when you end up cutting it, bringing your trimming, and often all other household activities as well, to an abrupt halt. The relative peace and quiet were always a good quality, but that darned cord is a serious issue.

In the past few years, as batteries have come to be used in more and more of our household items, battery trimmers have hit the market. These offer portability and quiet operation, but do they have the power and endurance needed for all but the smallest hedge?

While prices have fallen a lot since their initial introduction, they still remain higher than for conventional trimmers, so you want to be sure you are getting value for money. What are the key features to look for?

Battery

Right away, you should choose a trimmer with a Lithium battery, not a nickel-cadmium one, if you want reasonable endurance for your trimmer. Most Thuja Green Giant hedges are substantial, so you will need the extended time to get the job done in one go. If you trim a lot in one day, then having a spare battery, or one that will re-charge in less than an hour, is a way of extending your time on a smaller machine, so make sure you can by the battery separately.

Bar Length

A longer cutting bar has two advantages. It cuts a bigger area, so you finish the job more quickly. It also gives you more reach, so when trimming higher up, or doing the top, you can reach farther without such a tall ladder, and you need to move the ladder more often. All these things add up to faster, more efficient trimming, so go for the longest bar you can. 24 inches is idea, but you may end up trading a few inches in return for a better machine.

Weight and Balance

The big drawback with lithium-battery trimmers is the weight, which comes mainly from the battery itself. It’s impossible at this stage of the technology to have both light-weight and a powerful cutter, so be aware that you will be holding a heavier trimmer. Smaller machines weigh in at around 6 pounds, and the weight rises to almost 12 pounds in the most powerful ones. On a power basis, they are usually lighter than a gas machine, but heavier than an electric. Think too about where the battery is positioned, since you are waving a trimmer around a lot, and you need good balance to make that less tiring.

Let’s look at four top trimmers and see how they stand up:

BLACK+DECKER LHT2220 20V Lithium Ion Hedge Trimmer, 22″

This is the top-selling trimmer on Amazon, and with a price well below $100, it deserves its position. However the battery only has an estimated running time of 40 minutes, so it really only works for boxwood hedges and individual shrubs around the garden. A large hedge is beyond its ability. The slightly more expensive LHT321FF has a more powerful battery, dubbed the ‘Powercommand’, and offers longer life, but still the limitation of only 20 volts.

BLACK+DECKER LHT2436 40V 24″

This is a more powerful trimmer, with a larger, 40 volt battery that will trim both sides of a 300-foot hedge, 10 feet tall, on a single charge. Not only that, but the battery charges in one hour, so while you stop for lunch you can bring it back to a full charge. The main drawback with both the Black+Decker trimmers is that they cannot handle heavier branches, so you need to trim your hedges regularly. That way you are only cutting light-weight material, which these trimmers handle well.

Stihl HSA 66

The Stihl brand pioneered battery trimmers, and while other brands might be catching up, they certainly remain on top of the game. Voted the Best Cordless Trimmer by consumer test sites, this machine has the power to cut through heavy material, and the balance to make that an easy job. Even with the smallest of its range of batteries, it will run almost 90 minutes, and with the strongest AR900 battery, it will last almost 8 hours. That option is probably only of interest to professionals, but the ability to choose the battery that suits you best is a big plus for this machine. Of course, there is a price to pay for the best, over $200 for the machine, plus up to the same again for the most powerful battery and charger. Still, if you want a machine that will handle the biggest overgrown hedge, this is the machine you want.

DEWALT 20-Volt 5.0Ah Battery MAX 22 in

If you don’t feel you need the full power of a Stihl machine, then this could be your best choice. Only $200 with the battery included, this machine will cut through ¾ inch branches, so if you haven’t trimmed your hedge for a while, you will be fine with this powerful machine. The battery will not give you anything like the time of the Stihl, but for most of us, that is not so important, as if we run out of power we can just come back the next day and finish up.

 

In the end, like so much in life, you get what you pay for. If your hedges are relatively small, the B+D options will probably work well for you. For larger, tougher hedges, the Dewalt or Stihl machines seem to be the way to go. Happy hedge trimming!

Grow Thuja Green Giant the Organic Way

A Fertilizer Program for Thuja Green Giant – Part 3

Feeding your Thuja Green Giant is the best way to get maximum healthy growth. Along with supplying sufficient water, this is the best approach to take, and gives you outstanding results. In this mini-series of blogs we have looked in some detail at plant nutrients, so that you can make informed choices when you come to choose fertilizers, and see past the advertising spin. As promised last time, in this piece we will look at how to grow your plants organically. Using natural fertilizers in the garden has gone from being a slightly-suspect fringe activity a few decades ago, to main-stream gardening today. More and more gardeners are choosing organic sources for plant nutrients, because they want to be ‘green’ and environmentally responsible. Like all newer things, there are some common misconceptions around this, which we will try to sort out here, and give some solid guidance for this ethical choice.

Plants Don’t Need Vitamins

No matter how you choose to supply them – from a bag of manufactured chemicals, or from the chemicals released by natural products, your plants use exactly the same handful of minerals we described in the earlier parts of this series. For the plant, these are exactly the same elements, and there is no evidence that plants can tell the difference between where they came from. After careful analysis, it is also clear that plants do not need vitamins or any other complex nutrients – just those basic elements.

That doesn’t mean that organic gardening and green growing are wrong. Not at all. Their emphasis is on the soil, not on the plant. What does that mean? Well, chemical fertilizers are designed and developed to deliver the chemicals needed by your Thuja Green Giant directly to the plant. They dissolve in the water in the soil, and are then absorbed through the roots, and sometimes through the foliage. Organic growing aims to build a healthy soil, with high levels of nutrients derived from the soil and the organic material added to it, so that your plants always have a good supply of exactly what they need. This more natural way of gardening focuses on keeping the soil healthy, and good plant growth follows – naturally.

Take Care of Your Soil

When we add organic material to our soil, we feed the natural cycles of decomposition and recycling that nourish all the plants growing in that soil. Organic material is the key to green growing, although we can sometimes use more concentrated natural materials such as sea-weed extracts, as boosters. Organic material is anything that was once alive, so all the parts of plants, plus animal waste. It can be garden compost you make yourself from garden trimmings, kitchen waste, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves, and even old wool or cotton clothing. There are lots of places you can find out how to make your own compost, and it is a wonderful way to start gardening organically.

If you live in a more rural area, you may have farms around you keeping cows, sheep, pigs or chickens. All these animals produce manure, which on most farms is mixed with straw and left to rot. If you can get some well-rotted manure, this is an excellent source of organic material for your garden. Never put fresh manure around your plants – it will burn them and can even kill them. Garden centers often sell rotted manures in bags, which is a very convenient way to use them, especially for a smaller garden.

When added to soil, this organic material continues to decompose, helped by the multitudes of fungi and ‘good’ bacteria present in healthy soil. This decomposition releases the nitrogen we talked about in earlier blogs, that builds healthy, green foliage and shoots on your plants. Nitrogen gives you maximum elongation of the stems, and your Thuja hedge builds height quickly. The decomposing organic material feeds the good microbes, which then more effectively release nutrients from the soil itself. It also retains moisture, helping your plants stay healthy.

As organic material decomposes, it turns into a substance called humus. This long-lasting material remains in the soil for years, holding nutrients as they are released from the soil minerals, and preventing them escaping in drainage water. The levels of good plant nutrients rise over the years – you get naturally healthier soil, and so healthier plants growing in it.

The Plants Will Take Care of Themselves

To effectively grow your Thuja Green Giant plants organically, you should start before you even plant them, adding organic material to the soil when you prepare the planting area. Dig or roto-till a layer 2 to 4 inches deep into the planting site, mixing it well with the soil. This will release lots of valuable nutrients – more than enough to grow your plants well without needing any added fertilizers.

To give young plants a boost, before they have spread their roots out into the surrounding soil to get to the nutrients from the organic material, you can use an organic supplement. One of the best is liquid seaweed. This is made from harvested kelp, which is a sustainable resource. Harvesting it doesn’t damage the environment, so you can use it while completely respecting the natural world around us. This liquid is diluted with water, and poured onto the roots of your plants, providing nutrients that are immediately available, and adding some longer-lasting ones to the soil as well. Once your plants are well-established, you don’t need to use it anymore, but keep some around, because diluted to a suitable strength it is a great food for everything from vegetables to flowers and even house plants.

To maintain good levels of organic material in your soil, and so feed your plants for maximum growth and health, you need to replace material that decomposes. Periodically, you should add new material as a mulch over the soil. You don’t need to dig it in, just spread it beneath your plants in a layer 2 to 4 inches thick. Cover the root area, extending out beyond the edges of your plants by as much as a foot. Not only will this material inhibit weed growth, and retain moisture, but organic mulch gradually breaks down, and works its way into the soil. On sandy soil and in high-rainfall areas, you may need to do this every year or two. On heavier soils, and in drier areas, every 4 or 5 years is probably enough.

By taking care of your soil, keeping it rich and healthy, and full of good microbes, your plants will benefit. You will be growing them in a natural, sustainable fashion, recycling household and garden waste through composting, and putting animal waste to good use, keeping it out of our rivers and lakes. This green approach to growing your Thuja Green Giant plants is certainly the natural way to go.

Moving Established Plants of Thuja Green Giant

We try to plan carefully when we start a project, but sometimes we have insufficient knowledge, and sometimes the situation can change suddenly, making our plans come unraveled. This happens in any part of life, and it can happen in our garden plans too. So there are situations where we plant something, perhaps a specimen or a hedge of Thuja Green Giant, and then after a few years we discover a problem, or decide to make a change. The reasons for moving established plants are many. Perhaps you have decided on some construction, and the plants are now in the way. Perhaps you need to open a section of hedge for vehicle entry, planning to put it back later. A neighbor might have suddenly added an extension, and you just as suddenly need privacy. Maybe you are even moving to a new house, and you have arranged to take plants with you.

Whatever the reason, here is the dilemma: you planted some specimens, or perhaps a hedge, or Thuja Green Giant, a few years ago. Maybe just one or two years, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. The plants are well established, and they have grown well, so you have lovely specimens, of a substantial size. How feasible is it to move them? How can you go about it? What preparation is needed? These are all the questions that arise when you find you need to move established plants of Thuja Green Giant, or for that matter, other evergreens.

How Feasible is Moving Established Plants?

The answer to this depends mainly on how long the plants have been in the ground, and how big they are. The main limitation is a practical one – the bigger the plant, the larger the root-ball will need to be, and so the heavier and harder to handle, the plants will be. Of course, you can hire professional help, and with that, even very large trees can be moved with the help of a tree spade. If you have access for machinery, a contractor can come in, and with a tree spade of a suitable size, pick up and move around anything in your garden in a matter of minutes. Considering the high value of large plants, the investment in moving them is often worth it, as it will be much less than replacing them with trees of the same size. If you want to do the job yourself, then with the help of a few friends, and your combined muscle power, you can move even large plants yourself. So the short answer is – very feasible if you have the ability to move them around.

When is the Best Season to Move Established Plants?

The idea seasons for moving are in early fall or early spring in colder areas where the ground freezes in winter, or anytime between fall and the end of winter in warmer regions. At that time the plants are dormant, and they need much less water, so there is a window available for them to re-establish their roots before warmer weather comes. Trees that have only been planted for a couple of years could probably be safely moved at any time except for July and August, if they are carefully watered for a couple of months after moving them.

What Preparation is Needed Before Moving Established Plants?

If our Thuja Green Giant, or other evergreens, have been planted for more than a couple of years, some preparation is a good idea, if you have the time available. As much in advance as possible – a year is considered best –  take a spade and cut straight down around the root ball, but without moving the plant. For very old plants, doing half one year, and the other half the next, by dividing the circle around the plant into alternating segments, is often recommended.

This is what professional nurseries do with all their trees, to develop roots closer to the trunk, and make transplanting easier. You can do it too, and it will make moving your plants much safer, if they have been in the ground for a few years. If you don’t have much time, then you can of course just dig and move the trees in a single operation, but the risk of failure is greater.

Immediately before you dig up your trees, give them a deep, thorough soaking, even if the ground is damp. Do this 24 to 48 hours before moving the trees.

How Big a Root-ball do I Need?

The bigger the tree, the bigger the root-ball. This seems obvious, but how big should they be? For a 5 to 6-foot tree, the root-ball needs to be at least 20 inches across, and preferably wider. For an 8-foot tree, it should be 24 to 30 inches in diameter. For every 2 feet added in height, add 6 inches to the root-ball size. So, a 15-foot tree will need a 4 to 5 foot root ball. That is heavy, so you will need equipment or a team of people to move that one!

Making a Root-ball

When it comes time to dig the trees, and you are doing this by hand, here is what to do. Measure the size you want the ball to be, and draw a circle around the tree on the ground. Now dig a trench, with that circle as the inside wall, all around the tree, going down about 2 feet. Remove all that soil, and then trim the root ball into an upside down rounded cone, until it is sitting on a small column of earth. Now wrap burlap tightly around the roots, securing it with rope, and only then can you cut all the way underneath and release the root-ball.

Replanting Your Trees

Once you have the wrapped tree ready to go, you can safely move it to the new hole, and lower it in to the same depth it was before. Put back some soil, removing the wrapping as you go, and firm it down around the roots, until you have the hole about two-thirds full. Then flood it with water, and let it drain away, before returning the rest of the soil and filling the hole completely.

 

As you can see, this is a fairly complex procedure, but once you have moved that beautiful big tree, you will be so pleased with the result that you will not mind the work at all. Hopefully you won’t have to start moving big Thuja Green Giants around your property, but if you do, now you know how to do it to maximize the chances of survival.