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.
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.