The Q&A Archives: Leyland cypress for formal hedge

Question: We have a border about 120 running feet along which we would like to have a very dense hedge of 8 - 10 feet. We are considering the leyland cypresses that we see on your site. We are located in north Claremont,CA which is in the foothills (Sunset Zone 19). Do you have suggestions about which of the cypresses might provide a quick growing dense formal hedge. What would be a good spacing for planting cypress to form a dense hedge?
Are there other plants that you would recommend instead?
Thank you.

Answer: Leyland cypress is a good choice for the purpose you have in mind. The Leyland cypress forms a graceful pyramid, with dense pendulous branches and fine, feathery foliage. This foliage, on flattened branchlets, is dark green or blue-green and is small and scalelike. The fruit (cone) is small and brown, and creates no litter problems.

This is a fast-growing evergreen when young and will quickly outgrow its space in small landscapes. It is an excellent choice for quick screens, hedges and groupings, especially on large properties. This tree tolerates severe trimming, and can be restrained at an early age with pruning. Although Leyland cypress can be sheared into a tall screen on small lots, it is most effective when allowed to develop into its natural shape. Regular trimming is necessary to retain a formal hedge, screen or windbreak. When considering this tree for use in a design, be mindful of its projected height. It usually grows larger than most people desire. It is a good background plant, and contrasts well with broadleaf evergreens.

This tree prefers sun to part shade and well-drained fertile soil. It is very adaptable, however, and tolerates acidic or alkaline soils and poor drainage on occasion. It withstands salt spray and is suited for coastal landscapes. Prune only during dry periods to help prevent disease.

Some cultivars for you to consider include:
?Castlewellan?- This is a somewhat compact form. It has gold-tipped foliage, which is more pronounced in fall, winter and spring.
?Leighton Green?- This tree is tall and columnar, with dense branching and dark green foliage.
?Haggerston Gray? - This tree has irregular lateral branches with sage green foliage.
?Naylor?s Blue? - This columnar form is more loosely branched and open than most. The foliage is blue-gray. It may be slower growing.
?Silver Dust? - This wide-spreading form has blue-green foliage marked with variegation.
?Greenspire? - This narrow, columnar form has very dense, rich green foliage.

There are a few other choices that might be good in your particular area of need. In alphabetical order, Cotoneaster is a deciduous or evergreen shrub. C.salicifoluis is evergreen and grows 8-12 feet tall with white flowers and deep red fruit. These shrubs thrive in full sun and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Spring planting is best. Its growth rate is moderate to fast. Euonymus is a popular evergreen or deciduous shrub. E.japonica is an evergreen hedge plant growing 10-15 feet. These shrubs have flowers in the spring and bright seeded berries that ripen from July to frost. It's growth rate is moderate. Juniper is an evergreen belonging to the Pine family. They are excellent choices for hedges and windbreaks. Common juniper(J.communis) grows to 12 feet and sometimes a good deal higher. It has needlelike leaves and black fruit. It's growth rate is moderate to fast.

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