POV: Arborvitae — Privacy Please

Another consideration involves plant selection and quality. Emerald Greens can be purchased in containers or as a balled-and-burlapped tree. They are generally sold by height. The most popular size marketed to homeowners is the 5-6’ trees. They can also be purchased as 3-4’, 7-8’, 8-10’, etc. trees in some nursery and garden centers. If the trees have been grown without pruning, they will reach the 5-6’ size quickly but will be thinner than those that have been pruned in production. Balled-and-burlapped trees tend to be thicker, heavier and therefore more expensive. So keep in mind that not all Emerald Greens are created equal.

How far apart should I plant my Emerald Greens in order to get my “instant privacy?” The “rule of thumb” in the industry is to plant them on 2-foot centers. That’s pretty darn close from the tree’s perspective. Some folks plant them further apart and wait for them to grow together, this is most desirable when you have a lot of room to cover. Others cram them closer to get that solid wall effect. The other beauty of this cultivar is that it can be left virtually unpruned without taking up too much yard space. Other evergreens such as spruces, firs and Douglas firs could also be used for privacy, but they require much more yard space.

The most common issue after planting is proper watering. Emerald Greens, as well as other newly planted trees, should be watered regularly. They are especially sensitive until their roots get established in the native soil. The first year after planting is the most critical. High summer temperatures and drying winds can cause tissue death in a matter of days. Some homeowners wait until they see brown foliage to begin watering, but that’s too late to start. Be sure your trees receive 1 inch of water each week, either from rainfall or from proper watering. The best way to accomplish this in a hedgerow of newly planted arborvitaes is by installing a soaker hose at the time of planting. Soaker hoses have many advantages; they lose very little water to evaporation, the water is placed where it is needed, they are barely visible and can be connected to a timer.

Like any other plant material there are a few pest problems to be on the lookout for. Pests such as bagworms, spider mites, leaf miners, deer browsing and tip blight are the most common problems. If they are left unattended each can cause serious damage. For more information on identifying these pests and recommendations for managing them, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

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