5 Tips to Stop Winter Breakage of Your Hedges

Every time there is a big winter storm, we see damage to hedges. This can be minor, and corrects itself within a season, or major, requiring the complete replacement of the hedge. This is heartbreaking for gardeners, since we are all proud of our beautiful hedges, and hate to see our work damaged or destroyed in a few hours by the forces of nature. Often you will see one hedge wiped out, and just nearby another standing perfectly. So what was the difference between them? Why mine and not yours? There are things that can be done to protect your hedge from damage, and none of them are difficult. Many are things that will keep your hedge healthy in other ways too. Let’s look at some things you can do to make sure that come spring, your hedge will still be looking as good as it did in fall.

Start Trimming When Your Hedge is Young

Many people make the mistake of waiting until their hedges reach full size before starting to trim. It’s understandable. They think it will grow quickly untrimmed, and they will get a finished hedge sooner. Sadly, this is a big mistake. An untrimmed hedge will have a small number of large branches, and once you start trimming it is too late to build a strong structure. If a branch is broken in a storm, or by the weight of snow, it represents a large part of the hedge, and so you will have an enormous hole that will be difficult to fill.

The best approach is to trim a little from your hedge regularly as it grows. Once or twice a year at least – even more often is better, especially when young. It is a quick, simple job to just run the trimmers over a young hedge and remove an inch or two of growth. This will encourage lots of branches to form, giving you a dense, twiggy structure that is much more stormproof, and much less likely to collapse under snow, or lose branches to high winds.

Remember too that Thuja Green Giant, like most other evergreen conifer trees, will not re-sprout from a branch with no leaves on it. If you leave your trimming until the hedge is full-grown, or don’t trim regularly, you could easily find you have to trim back into leafless branches, and then your hedge is basically destroyed. Trim a little and often for the best and greenest hedge around.

Trim in All Directions

When trimming a hedge, a lot of people run the trimmers upwards. That is, they make each stroke of the blades an upward one, bending over a little and coming up. They rarely or never move the blade sideways or downwards. If you do this over all the time, the plant will respond by producing tall, upright stems, densely covered in foliage. The natural tendency of the plant to send out upwards growing stems will be exaggerated, and one stem will cover a large area of the hedge face. Because of their height and density, if the upper tip of such a branch is dislodged a little, the whole branch can easily fall outwards. In a strong wind or under the weight of snow, these branches can then snap or break. Because that one branch covers a large part of the hedge, this leaves you with a large, gaping hole in the surface of your hedge.

The solution is to trim in all directions – up, down and sideways too. This will keep all the branches short, and more-or-less horizontal. Each one will end in a tufted clump of small leafy twigs. So even if one should die it only leaves a small hole that will quickly fill in from the surrounding branches. These short branches will not catch the snow, or be blown out of the hedge by the wind – and your hedge is much less likely to be damaged in a storm.

Slope the Sides

Another common mistake of beginner hedge-trimmers is to remove the same amount all over the hedge. They will take two inches off, all over. The problem is that a plant does not grow evenly. The upper growth is always stronger and longer, so you always must take more from the top than the bottom. If you don’t, the upper part will spread outwards, giving you a fat top and a skinny bottom. The shade from the top will discourage growth lower down, making it grow even more slowly, and eventually die.

This creates several problems, the most obvious one being that you have thin growth low down, exactly where you want the densest growth to give you screening. Also, that big, fat top will blow over much more easily, break open, and collapse under the weight of snow.

Instead, plan right from the beginning to slope the sides inwards by a few degrees, so that the top is narrower than the bottom. The eye won’t notice a slight slope, but doing this has two benefits. First it will let more light onto the lower parts, and encourage more growth down there. That will keep your hedge lush and green right to the ground. Those sloping sides will tend to shed snow more easily, so it won’t lodge and stick, pulling at the branches with its weight. If you shovel you will know just how heavy snow is, and realize how easily lodged snow can tear down a hedge.

Keep Your Hedge Thin

Besides reducing the space it takes up, a thin hedge is a sturdy hedge. By sloping the sides inwards, and trimming from an early age, you will avoid the ‘big, fat hedge’ look. A broad hedge is much more likely to trap a lot of snow, and the weight of that will bring your hedge crashing down. In fierce winds a fat hedge has more density, and greater wind-resistance. So instead of just passing through, the wind will buffet the hedge, making branches break and even blowing it down completely.

Round the Top

When you come to trim the top of your hedge, a crisp, flat top, with a square corner, is often considered best. While it may have visual appeal, a much better top is rounded, particularly if you live in an area with heavy winter snow. This keeps the top narrower, which we have already seen is a good thing. It also reduces the amount of snow that sits on top, and allows that snow to fall off easily. Without that weight on top, your hedge is not going to break and fall apart.

These simple tips will give you a dense, thin, rounded hedge, with no long branches to trap snow or be blown out in a storm. Not only will your hedge look great, with green foliage right to the ground, it will be much more resistant to damage from high winds and heavy snow. While all about you are losing their hedge – you will be keeping yours!

5 Common Questions About Thuja Green Giant

Although Thuja Green Giant is widely grown, and has become one of the great plant success stories, there are still some things that new growers want to ask. We get lots of questions, but here are five of the most common. Hopefully the answers will help you decide if this is the plant for you, and put your mind at ease with any problems you might be anticipating.

How Fast Does It Grow?

When it comes to planting evergreens for screening and hedges, everyone wants to see that mature hedge as soon as possible. Maybe you have an ugly view to screen, or maybe you want to block out those people who keep looking in. Perhaps you want a wind and noise shelter from a busy highway. There are lots of reasons why we want quick growth, and just as many nurseries and sellers wanting us to buy their ‘fast growing trees’, or other ‘super plants’ that reputedly grow many feet a year.

When it comes to questions like this, some simple research is the answer, and for Thuja Green Giant we have that. Some years back, when this plant was first becoming widely grown, some horticultural scientists at the University of Arkansas decided to check out just how fast these plants really did grow. They took a field they had available, and gathered together all the fast-growing plants around. Among them was, of course, Thuja Green Giant. These were small plants, and they gave them some basic care, like weeding and a little water during summer. After 7 years they measured all the plants, and recorded how much they had grown. The Thuja Green Giant plants had grown taller and bigger than ANY of the other well-known fast-growing trees.

Remember these had been small plants, maybe a foot tall. After those 7 years, they were now 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. That is a big, solid plant. Had they been planted closer together they would have grown more upright, and not as wide, so if this had been a hedge, they probably would have made 12 feet or even a little more. We know from observation that the most rapid growth takes place in the first few years, so they must have grown 2 or even 3 feet in the first couple of seasons, and then a foot a year for a while, then a bit less than that in the later years. So now you know. If the plants you use are already 3 or 4 feet tall, in 5 years they will be at least 10 feet, and probably more like 12 feet. If you water and feed well and regularly, you can expect a few more feet on that. That is big enough for most screening jobs, and certainly makes a large hedge. Remember, Thuja Green Giant was the fastest tree in the trial, so if you want speed, this plant is simple the right choice to make.

How Tall Does It Get?

This is an important question, because you don’t want monster plants in your garden. This was, and still is, a problem with some other fast-growing trees, particularly Leyland Cypress. Because it was so popular, many people planted that tree where they shouldn’t have. It can grow to be 60 to 80 feet tall, and 20 feet wide – that is one big tree! Thuja Green Giant is fast-growing, but much more modest in its final size – 20 to 40 feet is about as big as its gets, and maybe 12 feet wide. That is still large, so make sure you plant far enough away from buildings, roads and property lines that it doesn’t become a nuisance. Of course, as a hedge that is regularly trimmed, it can be kept much shorter, but if you want a screen, with little or no trimming, give it enough room. You almost certainly don’t need screening over 20 feet tall, and a hedge that tall is very complex to trim.

If your needs are for something under 10 feet, then perhaps you should consider something else, like Emerald Green Arborvitae, which tops out in the 8 to 12-foot size-range. Yes, it is slower growing, but of course you are not asking it to get so tall, so it will still reach the size you want in years, not decades!

How Far Apart Should I Plant Them?

This must be the most common question about Thuja Green Giant. The answer depends of course on what you are planning. If you want an informal privacy screen, or some tall background planting on your property, with little or no trimming involved, then 5 feet apart is about right. You could go more, but of course it will take longer for the plants to grow together and give you a solid barrier. For a hedge you plan to trim regularly, 3 feet apart is about right. Don’t be tempted to go closer, thinking it will fill in faster. Instead the plants will struggle upwards, and yes, they will get tall, but they will remain thin at the bottom, and not make the solid hedge you have in mind.

Do Deer Eat Them?

This is another common concern among gardeners, especially if you are in a more rural area, or on the outskirts of town. Deer are notoriously difficult to judge, and there will always be the out-of-character occasion, but everyone is pretty much in agreement on this question. Unlike most other arborvitae, deer usually leave your Thuja Green Giant plants completely alone. Only under extreme winter conditions, or if you have a large herd that have eaten themselves bare, will you see a deer touch this plant. This makes it especially useful if you have those critters around. You can put in a fence to stop them pushing through, and plant Thuja Green Giant up against it to create a solid barrier.

When Is the Best Time to Trim?

This depends a little on where you live. If you have real winter, with snow, temperatures well below freezing for weeks, and frozen ground, then avoid trimming in winter. in milder areas you can, but as a general rule, anytime between spring and early fall is the best time for trimming Thuja Green Giant. Wait in spring until you see a little growth beginning, and stop trimming a few weeks before the days start to stay regularly below freezing point. If you have hot, dry summers, then avoid trimming at that time too, as the foliage can scorch.

How often you trim depends on how neat you want your hedges to be, and how much water and fertilizer your plants receive. For a casual hedge, once a year is often enough – in fall would be the best time for that. Otherwise, two or three times a year will give you a hedge that always looks smart and neat – a great asset in any garden.

Anti-desiccant Sprays – a Good Idea?

The arrival of winter can be a time of concern for growers of evergreens. Unlike deciduous plants, our evergreens remain, well, evergreen, so their foliage is exposed to the cold, harsh winds of winter, especially during storms. When spring comes, and we find brown, dead patches and branches, this is often put down to low temperature, but that is not really true. ‘Winter-burn’, or ‘desiccation injury’, as this condition is known, is caused not the branches becoming cold – evergreens are well adapted to low temperature, as we can see when climbing mountains or heading north. As we enter colder and colder areas, it is the evergreens, like spruce or fir, that persist, as the deciduous trees disappear.

So if it is not cold, what exactly is the problem? Put simply, there is an imbalance between the amount of water lost from the foliage, and the amount absorbed at the roots. A lack of water in the leaves, aggravated by dry air and a strong wind, causes the foliage to dry out, and of course it dies. Where cold comes in is in the roots. Although the soil may be wet, once that water freezes, it cannot be taken up by plants. In a nutshell, this is the fundamental problem, and why you may have a sad face in spring when you see your plants.

Preventing Winter-burn – Some Tips

What is a gardener to do? The traditional approach is to do one or all of these four things:

  • Water your evergreens heavily just before freeze-up. This will slow down hard freezing, and hopefully leave some free water available for your plants. This should always be done, no matter what additional protection you provide.
  • Mulch the ground over the roots. The deeper levels of the soil don’t freeze, and they contain a lot of warmth. A mulch will insulate the roots, keeping the cold away and allowing that deep warmth to rise and prevent the soil from freezing. Even if the ground does eventually freeze in the depths of winter, it will be for a shorter time, so there is less chance of the foliage losing a lot of water, and a better chance it will stay alive.
  • Wrap the trees in burlap to slow down the wind. Reducing wind flow over and through your plants reduces the rate of water loss, and often prevents winter burn. Wrapping can have a secondary benefit in preventing salt-spray damage, but only if there is a space between the burlap and the trees. If not, the salty water will be held against the foliage, and the problem may be magnified.
  • Wrap trees in netting. This has the advantage of being much less visible, and has been shown to be almost as effective as burlap. It is especially useful for specimens, but even a hedge could be netting, with a little effort.

An Alternative Approach – Anti-desiccant Sprays

These methods are fairly well-known, and in fact we have already discussed them in early posts. But there is another, less used method that may be not only the easiest, but the most effective approach to take. This is the coating of the foliage in materials that slow-down or prevent water loss from the leaves, and so protects them very effectively from winter-burn.

These anti-desiccants have been used by professionals for a couple of decades, but they have not been adopted much by home gardeners. This is a pity. They have lots of other uses around the garden, that we will look at later. Here though, we are primarily interested in their use specifically for evergreens, especially in the first winter or two after planting. These are the times when plants are most susceptible to winter-burn. Once the roots are well-established, they are more efficient at keeping up a sufficient water supply to the roots, and well-established plants are not likely to suffer from winter-burn. A heavy watering and some mulch is all they need.

What Are Anti-desiccants?

There are several products available, with names such as Wilt-Pruf, Wilt-Stop, and ArborGuard. All contain the same ingredient – a natural chemical extracted from pine trees, called ‘pinene’. This material, when mixed with water, forms a natural polymer. That is to say, the molecules link together to form a plastic-like coating over the foliage of your plants. This coating slows down water loss, reducing and preventing winter-burn and desiccation injury in plants. Since this product is organic and natural, you do not need to worry that you are adding harmful or dangerous chemicals to your garden environment.

There are several ways to buy this product, but for anything other than a single small plant, the best approach is to buy a concentrate containing at least 25% pinene. This is diluted with water, and using a sprayer, applied to the plant until it drips off a little. At first your plants will look bluish-white, but once the spray dries it is completely transparent. You won’t have ugly burlap to look at, and no complicated staking and tying operations to do in the cold, either.

Tips on Using Anti-Desiccant Sprays

Like all products, these sprays need to be used correctly, to get the results you want. So here are some pointers to help you get the most from them:

  • Always follow the label instructions carefully. Choose the correct dilution rate for the time of year, and your purpose.
  • These sprays work best if applied when temperatures are around 40-50 degrees F. The plants should be dry when you apply it, and the spray needs time to dry afterward, so don’t spray when rain is expected in the next few hours.
  • Wait until December to spray your evergreens, or late November in the coldest areas. Plants must be completely dormant before applying, or else the spray will trap too much water in the leaves. This may then freeze and cause the leaf-cells to rupture, causing browning. When plants stop growing completely, the water in the leaves is reduced, so this problem will not happen once the plants are completely at rest.
  • Spray thoroughly, all over the plants, from top to bottom, including the underside of the leaves. Plants lose water from both the upper side and under side of the leaves, so you need to seal the whole plant.
  • If there are warm spells later in winter, take advantage of the temperatures being above freezing, and apply another coat. It does gradually wear off, and after a month or two it is not so effective. This is another reason for waiting as late as possible, and for re-applying once a month if you can.

Other Uses for Anti-Desiccant Sprays

Besides Arborvitae and other conifer-type evergreens, these sprays are very useful for boxwood, rhododendrons, holly and other broad-leaf evergreens growing in cold areas. They have even shown a benefit for climbing roses and hydrangeas, again when growing at the limits of their hardiness. One last tip – blue spruce is very hardy, and rarely suffers winter-burn. However don’t be tempted to spray them, as they have their own natural coating, which also gives them their blue color. Spraying will damage that, and make them unsightly.

When Is the Best Time to Plant Thuja Green Giant?

This is one of the most common questions about Thuja Green Giant. There was a time when hedging plants were only available at certain seasons, because that was when the growers found it best to dig the plants from the fields. Today even large trees and bushes are grown entirely in containers, so they are available for planting all year round. When you have a garden project to do, you can find the plants you want, but still, there are better and not-so-good times to plant, so let’s look at this issue with Thuja Green Giant.

Hedges and screens have always been a core part of most gardens. They are cheaper and much more attractive than fences, especially if you need shelter and privacy above 6 feet high. As well, hedges are effective filters of dust and noise – much more effective than solid structures of wood, concrete or stone. Installing a hedge or boundary screen is often the first job in establishing a garden. Our goal is to put in plants so that they take hold immediately, begin to grow as soon as possible, and establish themselves quickly, growing rapidly to maturity.

Since we can plant at almost any time of year that the ground is not frozen hard, deciding on which time is best for you, given your location and goals, is an important decision. Let’s look at the different options, and most importantly, consider the implications of each choice in terms of future care and the rate of establishment of your hedge or screen.

Planting Thuja Green Giant in Fall

Fall planting is one of the two traditional times for planting – the other being spring. As we all know too well – gardeners or not – there is early fall, with its warm days and crisp nights, and the feel of summer still lingering. Then there is late fall, when the first chill winds of winter begin to blow, and icy rain can sting your face. It is those first weeks of fall, from Labor Day onward, that are the ideal time in fall for planting.

Why is that?

Firstly, the soil is still warm from the summer, so roots are stimulated to grow. There has usually been some rain around the end of August, when the first cooler nights arrive, so the ground is moist too. Warmth and moisture are ideal conditions for rapid root growth and establishment. Thuja Green Giant, like any other tree you plant at this time, will quickly send out roots to explore the soil you carefully prepared, and the continuing rains of fall, with cooler air temperatures, will reduce or even eliminate the need for you to water your plants.

The roots of trees are adapted to grow in cooler conditions that the branches. So root growth will continue even as the soil cool. In mild areas, where the ground rarely freezes hard, some root growth will continue all winter. You can plant right up to Christmas if the ground is not frozen. By spring your plants will be well-established, and ready to take off. Not only will you see rapid growth, but water-stress will be reduced, although you will still need to water your new trees regularly during that first growing season.

On the other hand, if you live in a colder area, and you delay planting until, say, Halloween or even later, then you begin to run the risk of winter damage. That small pot of soil that contains all the roots of your plants can easily freeze solid, making it harder for the leaves to take up water. The plants will be more prone to winter burn. The conclusion we can draw is that while early fall is a good planting season everywhere, late fall and early winter become less and less attractive for planting, the further into cold areas we go.

Planting Thuja Green Giant in Spring

Spring is the other traditional planting season for trees. Especially in cold areas, it is perhaps the better season, especially for evergreens like Thuja Green Giant. The main disadvantage to spring planting is that the soil is very cold, and often very wet as well. When saturated with water soil has very little oxygen in it, and oxygen is vital for the growth of plant roots. Some diseases thrive in very cold soil, and that cold, wet, oxygen-low soil can encourage disease and reduce growth.

It follows that if you plant in spring, don’t be too eager, especially in cold areas. The ground remains cold for some weeks, and it is best to wait for it to warm and dry a little before planting evergreens. How long to wait depends on your climate zone. In areas where hot, dry summer weather arrives early, don’t wait too long, but in places where spring is a drawn-out affair, and summers are often wet and cooler, there is no hurry, and later may be better. May and early June can be ideal for evergreen planting in cold areas.

Usually, though, trees planted in spring will not be so well established by summer, so you will need to keep a closer eye on watering. Don’t be fooled by a thunderstorm, which often doesn’t even penetrate the ground. If you plant in spring, you should let a hose trickle gentle near the base of each tree once a week for the first growing season. The root-ball will have few roots spreading out at first, and even if the surrounding soil is damp, warm weather creates a lot of water-loss from the foliage of your trees, and that small root-ball can dry out quickly. This is the single biggest danger for trees planted in spring – root-ball desiccation. Careful attention to watering right at the base of the tree, as well as keeping the soil generally moist, is the key to giving your new plants the best possible chance for success.

Planting Thuja Green Giant in Summer

Although we have had trees in pots for decades now, some gardeners still avoid summer for planting. Fair enough, but not everyone has that choice, and if you are keen to get started, and it is already June or July, there is no reason why, with the right care, trees planted in the full heat of summer will not thrive. A few tips for planting will give you the information you need to succeed. First, always water the container thoroughly the night before planting. A moist root-ball is vital. Secondly, always soak the planting hole before you finish putting back the soil. When there is still a space left in the hole, fill it with water and wait for it to drain down. There is a danger in summer especially that you will not water thoroughly enough, and the soil round your plants will still be dry. Watering right into the planting hole prevents this happening.

Also, establish a regular watering schedule – twice a week during hot spells, once a week the rest of the time. Water thoroughly, using a trickle hose, rather than a sprinkler or hand-held hose. Watering by hand is fun, but we rarely stand there long enough to really do a thorough job. If you keep a close eye on watering, your plants will be well-established by fall, ready to take advantage of that season to complete their establishment. Summer planting usually give the maximum possible growth rate in the following season.

Hopefully these tips and thoughts will help you decide when to plant. Even more, no matter when you plant, they will help you get the most from your trees, and soon have a great screen or hedge of Thuja Green Giant.

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.


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.

Thuja Green Giant – All Year Green

Evergreens should be just that – ever green. That means a stable, solid green color all year round. Yet for many evergreens that is simply not true, and many of these plants turn unattractive bronze or brownish colors for months of the winter, only returning to a healthy green color once spring is well underway. This is hardly what we want in our gardens. Most of us plant evergreens expecting to create a dense, permanent green background for our garden, not have a nasty brown one just when other plants are sleeping, leaving the evergreens as the most prominent plants in the garden.

Why Do Evergreens Turn Brown?

There are several reasons why we see these brown colors on many of our evergreens in winter. In its extreme forms this condition is not temporary, but permanent, and results in the death of the brown branches. The cause of this condition is the inability of the plant to supply enough water to the foliage. Since these plants keep green leaves in winter, those leaves continue to lose water, when other plants are protected from this because they dropped their leaves for the winter. Plants have a coating on the leaves, called the cuticle, which varies in thickness from one species of plant to another, depending on how dry an environment they normally live in. In plants that grow naturally in dry places we see that they have a thick cuticle, which allows very little water to evaporate from the leaves. Plants from damper places usually have thinner cuticles. We also see thicker cuticles in evergreens from cold areas, for the following reason.

In winter the air is often very dry, and the winds can be strong. These cold, dry winds speed up the rate of evaporation of water from green leaves. That water must be replaced by water drawn from the soil by the plant’s roots. But here is where the problem starts. If the soil around the roots is frozen, then the water in it will be ice, not liquid. So the roots cannot draw that water up. Rather like sucking on an ice cube, it is hard to get much water from it. We have the advantage that the ice soon melts in our warm mouths, which of course plant roots can’t do, so they cannot get at the water at all.

As a result, a deficit develops in the plant, with it unable to draw enough water to keep the leaves moist. They dry out, turning brown, and then in spring, with the warmer weather, die completely. This is especially a problem with young, newly-planted trees, because the roots only have access to a limited volume of soil, while established plants have roots going deeper down, where there is soil that has not frozen hard.

What Is ‘Winter Burn’ on Evergreens?

When our evergreens turn brownish in winter from this lack of water, gardeners call it ‘winter burn’. When severe it leads to the death of the foliage, or sometimes the whole plant. We can protect our newly planted evergreens from winter burn by watering them deeply shortly before freeze-up, and also by mulching. The heavy watering leaves some water un-frozen in the soil, and that is available for the plants. The mulch reduces heat loss from the soil, keeping it warmer and partially or completely preventing freezing. That is why both of these strategies are recommended for the first couple of winters with newly-planted evergreens, even with such tough plants as Thuja Green Giant.

There is though, another kind of winter burn. This is when the foliage turns a bronzy-brown color, but doesn’t die, and naturally turns green again when the spring returns. This is a reaction of the plant to low temperatures, usually below zero degrees Fahrenheit. The extent to which a plant will do this varies between species, and even between individual plants. Several Thuja plants will do this, such as the Eastern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis. Wild plants of this tree often turn bronze in winter, even though the plant is hardy to minus 50 degrees. The leaves will turn bronze and brown, and then become green again in spring. This is a natural defense against cold. The color comes from chemicals that accumulate in the leaves to protect it them from drying out. Not all individual plants of this species will do this, and the Emerald Green Arborvitae, a popular hedging plant in colder parts of the country, was specially selected partly because it stayed green in winter, and didn’t bronze. If you live in colder places, this is the ideal hedging plant, exactly because it will give you a great green background to your garden all winter long. Perhaps the reason this plant stays green is because it has a thicker cuticle on the leaves, and so doesn’t need those bronzing chemicals to protect it from drying out.

Winter Bronzing and Thuja Green Giant

Another Thuja plant that will not turn bronze in the winter is Thuja Green Giant. Although not as hardy as Emerald Green Arborvitae, it is the number one hedging and screening choice all across milder areas. This vigorous hybrid plant is hardy all through zone 5, where winter temperatures can fall to minus 20 (Fahrenheit) – plenty cold enough to bring about bronzing in a wide range of evergreens. Thuja Green Giant will stay a beautiful green color through all freezing weather, bringing all-year-green to your garden.

The only time you may see bronzing in this plant is if it is water stressed. This is seen in younger plants, especially in the first year after planting. Plants may green up again in spring, but if you have neglected them you may find some dead branches too. The best protection is the methods we looked to earlier – deep watering just before freeze-up, and mulching.

So if you have planted new Thuja Green Giant this summer or fall, or perhaps even if you planted them last year, late fall is a good time to take care of these simple tasks. You can apply mulch at any time, so this should be your first job. Ideally, use a rich organic material, like compost, rotted leaves or manure, that will improve the soil and feed your plants as well as preventing water loss. If not, then bark chips, shredded wood, gravel or pebbles will all reduce water loss. The deep watering is best done a couple of times in the fall, so that can be done almost any time too. Smart gardeners keep an eye on the weather forecast, and when the first really cold nights, with temperatures well below freezing, are predicted they pull out the hose and give their hedge one last deep watering, before packing up for the winter.

Once your plants are well-established, these precautions are not necessary, although they never hurt. Thuja Green Giant is one evergreen that is virtually guaranteed to give you a beautiful rich-green backdrop to your garden 365 days of the year. This is just another reason why this plant remains the number one hedging and screening choice across the country.