Ask a Question forum: Which Type of Arborvitae to Install

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josuff36
May 1, 2017 9:37 AM CST
My wife and I have a small back yard (50’D 75’W) and a 7’H cedar fence at the back property line (our house backs up against a sometimes busy street). Currently we have lilac bushes and another type of bush that blooms yellow flowers in the spring and then fall off (I can’t think of the name).

I want to create more of a visual barrier from our back yard to the homes/building across the street and saw the Thuja Green Giant.

If I plant them 4’ apart, will that help restrict the typical diameter of a typical Thuja? Because our back yard is small, I don’t want evergreens that are 12’ in diameter, they’ll take up too much of the fence line. My desire is to plant them within two feet of the cedar fence, 4’ apart, and have them grow up more than out. As for the height, I don’t want a 30’ tall evergreen, I’d like it to stop maybe around 15’ or so. Can I simply cut each season to keep it at that height or will it damage the evergreen? Or is there another quick-growing version we can look at?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
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Garden10
May 1, 2017 10:51 AM CST
Welcome! josuff, I'm not one of the experts here, I can only share my experience, where I used them to screen my neighbor's cyclone fence, and in a smaller yard (I would have killed to have your size backyard). They were Emerald Green Arborvitae, and I don't even know enough to tell you if that's the kind you're looking at, I just remember what the landscaper and I chose, they were planted about 2 feet from the fence and about a foot and a half apart -- I could only afford ones that were 4 feet high, you can get taller ones, but they grew quickly, they were planted the first spring I was at the house (I had moved in October) and when I moved 11 years later, they were about 8-9 feet high. They grew quickly and sort of slacked off the last couple of years, I think they have a sort of expiration date from conversations I've had with people over the years, and mine had started that browning thing at the bottom when I sold the house last fall, but now that's someone else's problem. They couldn't have been more than 4 feet in circumference each at the end, made a nice solid wall, even provided some protection when their disturbed and untreated son insisted on kicking the basketball instead of shooting it D'Oh!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Beavers Region: Canadian Dragonflies Butterflies Cactus and Succulents
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JuneOntario
May 1, 2017 10:52 AM CST
Hi @josuff36
Thuja can make a good hedge but it will need trimming to keep it within bounds. Thuja is a forest tree and it will keep growing up and out, trying to reach its full potential. It will not stop at the dimensions you want. Do you want to be climbing a 10ft ladder to trim the top of your hedge? (Been there, done that, and I don't recommend it!)

There are shorter evergreens, but unfortunately they are slow growing and would take many years to reach 15ft. If you want height without width, look for an evergreen tree that is naturally vertical, pencil-shaped, in growth. A row of them would not provide a complete screen, but would interrupt the view into your yard.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
May 1, 2017 11:06 AM CST
June reminded me (hi June!), I never did anything to these except mulch underneath every spring until they grew together, and dosed them with organic Hollytone once in the spring and again in the fall. As I said, this is not the voice from the mount, just what I did, there isn't any way I would have planted any kind of hedge that needed trimming, I almost lost a finger doing it for my aunt, and no way am I trying it again!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Beavers Region: Canadian Dragonflies Butterflies Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers Deer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
May 1, 2017 11:58 AM CST
Hi Abbey! We posted simultaneously. You are lucky that you got Thuja 'Emerald Green', which tops out at around 9ft. 'Green Giant' grows to 60ft.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Beavers Region: Canadian Dragonflies Butterflies Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers Deer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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JuneOntario
May 1, 2017 12:09 PM CST
I just thought of something that is a problem with tall, narrow, Thuja trees: wet snow and freezing rain. Thujas tend to be very bendy, and when the tops get heavy with snow or ice they bend over almost to the ground and sometimes break. I don't know where you live @josuff36 and so I don't know if this might be something that would affect your trees.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
May 1, 2017 12:09 PM CST
JuneOntario said:Hi Abbey! We posted simultaneously. You are lucky that you got Thuja 'Emerald Green', which tops out at around 9ft. 'Green Giant' grows to 60ft.


Oh June, sure, I knew it all along, Thuja Emerald Green, I love sharing my expertise with others Whistling

You mean I got something RIGHT??? Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

Thank You!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Image
Garden10
May 1, 2017 12:12 PM CST
WE DID IT AGAIN!!! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

It is true, branches on mine would bend with the snow, but I would knock the snow off, tie cord around it, and in the spring, they were fine, I never lost one, and we had some nasty storms, snow and otherwise, including Sandy, and they were OK Crossing Fingers!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Beavers Region: Canadian Dragonflies Butterflies Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers Deer Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
JuneOntario
May 1, 2017 12:28 PM CST
@josuff36 I can't stop thinking about this screening problem. Does the screen have to be all at the far end of the yard? Would three trees of different sizes, at different distances from the house, do the job? For instance, a shorter variety on the left at 30ft from the house, a medium-sized variety on the right at 40ft, and a monster in the center at 50ft. From the house, they would appear to be a continuous barrier, and you wouldn't have to trim them at all.

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