The Q&A Archives: Narrow Evergreens

Question: Looking for a narrow evergreen to plant for screening along fence; one that will not require pruning as I'm getting up in age. It will be planted approx 11-12 feet from a Maple tree. Will I damage Maple roots planting this close? I plan to buy small specimens. And at this location, it will make planting about 1 foot from fence. Is there one that will only reach a height of approximatelly 7 - 10 feet, yet remain narrow?

Answer: Probably the best candidate for your screening hedge is Thuja occidentalis (American Arborvitae). These conical or pyramid-shaped needled evergreens are practically maintenance free. Roots of a maple, or most any tree, will generally spread out over a surface area of one and one-half times the diameter of the canopy of the tree. Depending upon the size of your maple, you may or may not run into roots when you dig holes for the Thuja. Digging shouldn't compromise the health of the maple, but you should expect that the new plants will really have to compete with the established roots for their share of moisture and nutrients. With this in mind, water your new plants as required until they are firmly established. One inch of water per week is generally sufficient for shrubs and young trees.

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