Thuja Green Giant is known for its rapid growth. This is a major reason why so many people are choosing it for screens and hedges – besides its beautiful green foliage and attractive appearance. But of course, just how much growth it produces in a year is not fixed. Some people might complain that their plants didn’t grow as fast as they were ‘supposed to’, but the causes can almost always be traced back to the way they were grown, not to the plants themselves. There are several things you can do to speed things up, and get that hedge of your dreams as soon as possible.
Ways to Speed-up the Growth of Thuja Green Giant
- Prepare the soil well
- Water regularly
- Have a fertilizer program
- Trim lightly from the beginning
Let’s look at each of these ideas in turn.
Prepare the Soil Well
The secret to good growth of all plants is in the soil. The difference between success and mediocre results is how much attention you pay to preparing it for the plants you put into it. Some people even say you should spend as much on the soil as you do on the plants, although in truth that is not necessary. None the less, it does get across the idea that making your soil better is as important as choosing good plants.
The first step in preparing the soil is to dig it. You can do this by hand, with a spade or fork, or you can use a rototiller. If you use a tiller – which will save a lot of time – then rent the biggest you can operate. Many people who use tillers do a bad job, because the machine will trick you by making the top layer of soil look nice, while doing nothing just a few inches down. You need to dig 12 inches deep if possible, which is the full depth of a full-sized spade, and the depth when the tines of the tiller are completely buried in the ground. It might take you several runs along the area to get it that deep, but it is important to do it.
Prepare the area for a hedge at least 3 feet wide. The purpose of making the soil loose over a large area is to make it easy for the plants to quickly send out their roots into the soil in search of food and water. Only new roots can take up those vital things, so plants need to constantly be growing into new soil. If that soil is hard and compacted, they will need more time to do that, and may even not be able to do it at all.
As well as digging, it’s best to add some kind of rich organic material to the soil. All soils benefit from it, from sandy ones to heavy clay. In sand, organic material holds water and adds nutrients as it decays. In clay, it also adds nutrients, but even more importantly, its coarse texture opens up the soil, allowing water to escape and air to enter. It doesn’t really matter a lot exactly what material you use, although most gardeners agree that rotted animal manures – cow, sheep or horse – are the richest and give the fastest growth. But home-made compost, rotted leaves, and peat-moss all do a similar job. Dig into the soil a layer between 1 and 4 inches deep, and mix it well down into the soil. Once your plants are growing you can replenish that organic content – which disappears over time, simply by mulching with it in spring. A layer a couple of inches thick is enough for that job.
Now you are ready to plant, it is time to water. Begin by watering the pots the night before – if the root-ball is dry when you plant, there is a danger it will stay that way even after you water the ground. For a hedge the best approach to planting is to dig a trench a little wider than the pots, along the line you want. This makes spacing out evenly and getting the row straight a lot easier. Once you have the plants in the trench, put back most of the soil, firming it down around the roots. Now flood the trench with water – that way you get it right down into the soil. Once it has drained away, put back the rest of the soil. Mulch over the root area – but not against the trunks – will help conserve moisture. Water twice a week for the first month, then once a week after that for the rest of the season. Even if it rains, water anyway, as rain often does not penetrate dry soil very deeply at all.
To maximize the growth in the years that follow, weekly watering from spring to fall will give the fastest growth. Only if your soil drains poorly can you over-water with a weekly soaking. A porous irrigation pipe makes watering very easy. Just connect it to a regular hosepipe, turn it on, and let the water flow for several hours – until the area is thoroughly wet. Try digging a hole in the earth after you think they have watered enough. You might be surprised to see that only the top few inches are wet. If that is true, water longer.
Have a Fertilizer Program
Even with that soil preparation and watering, using a hedge fertilizer will accelerate the growth even more. It really doesn’t matter very much what type you use – solid or liquid, but the simplest to use is a slow-release form that is applied once in spring for the whole season. These can cost more, but the saving in time might be worth it to you. Whatever you use, follow the directions carefully. Giving too much is worse than giving too little, and if you don’t continue through the season, much of the benefit will be lost.
Trim Lightly from the Beginning
It might seem counter-intuitive to trim plants before they reach the size you want – surely, they will get there more slowly if I do that? Not really. Taking an inch or two off the ends of the branches every couple of months in the early years will thicken up the growth, and encourage more shoots to develop. You will reach the final height with denser growth more quickly. A few wispy stems getting there first doesn’t really count now, does it?
If you follow these simple steps, your Thuja Green Giant hedge will grow the fastest it can for you. Before you know it, the hedge of your dreams will be yours.