Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' - how close to fence?

celestial(Zone-Enabled)March 24, 2010

how close would you recommend I plant a hedge (probably 3 ft spacing between plants) from a 6' cedar (solid picket) fence?

planting will be on the southeast and southwest sides of fence.

Hot/dry climate, windy, clay soil.

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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

I have one by my house and it's about 3' from a retaining wall and is now touching it. I'm guessing mine is about 9 years old.

Be careful of a couple things. Deer do love to eat them, so you could end up with browsing. Also, sunlight. Since you're going to have them up against a fence, will they be shielded from sunlight on that side? They could get to looking a bit barren, if so.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 10:23AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

most likely.. sooner or later.. they will totally brown on the fence side from lack of sun .. and earlier from reflected heat off the fence.. especially if the fence i white ... extra aftercare may be very important

i would say .. 5 to 8 feet will get you many years of enjoyment ...

of course you may never care if the backsides brown out.. eh???

all that said.. we have no clue what zone you are... and that may make a big difference as to the survivability of these plant ... how arid [hot and dry]???? ... is snow load an issue??? can you get single leader plants???? .. what size are you thinking about starting with???

more info will get better answers..

and you might want to check the conifer forum for info about these conifers .. or not.. dont care.. just never prune these plants like a shrub

good luck


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:12AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes: "hot/dry" may indicate a need for planting another kind of tree, maybe Rocky Mountain juniper or smooth Arizona cypress.

I find columnar conifers marching along in front of a fence redundant, would instead do a mixed planting of different kinds of plants with varying growth habits anyway.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:59PM
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Thank you thisismelissa--it's nice to hear from someone with experience with this exact issue. I was hoping for less than 5 ft spacing from the fence. Fortunately, deer are not an issue (my dogs would browse on them!)

Ken: yup, I don't care what it looks like back there--could be purple for all I care because I won't see that side. I can get 2 sizes locally (1 size is about 4 ft tall and the other is closer to 6 ft tall). And, all of my climate info is on my page.

bboy: After considering the 2 possible alternatives (Rocky Mt Juniper & Smooth AZ Cypress) it appears that neither are an acceptable replacement for the Arborvitae. I think the reasons will pop out when looking at the info on the Arborvitae vs. the 2 suggestions:

Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'
Height: 12-14 ft
Spread: 3-4 ft
Zones: 2-7
Sun: Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Water: Medium
Maint: Low
Minimum Spacing: 3 ft on centers

Suggestion 1:
Rocky Mountain Juniper, Juniperus scopulorum
Height: 8-40 ft (depends on cultivar)
Spread: 3-12 ft (depends on cultivar)
Zones: 3-8
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Does not do well in wet soil
Maint: Susceptible to blight, rust, cankers
Minimum Spacing: 8 ft (could not find anything with a smaller minimum)

Suggestion 2:
Smooth Arizona Cypress, Cupressus glabra
Height: 10-50 ft (depends on cultivar)
Spread: 12-15 ft (depends on cultivar)
Zones: 7-10
Sun: Full Sun
Water: well-drained soil, don't over water
Maint: Low
Minimum Spacing: 6-8 ft (couldn't find anything smaller)
Other: turpentine fragrance

And, it's a good thing that I am not planting them for you bboy, because I like a modern garden.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 10:51PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

"...because I like a modern garden..."

Not sure what that is. Do you mean a formal garden?

Aesthetics aside, there is a cultural reason for mixed plantings and that is if an insect or disease comes along that kills arbs your fence will be wiped out. Diversity=survivability.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 1:56AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is snowload an issue???

most bigboxstore plants tend to be multi-leadered .... where snow gets into the center of the plant.. and causes them to splay with heavy snow .... causing breakage ...

unless you tie EVERY single one of them up.. EVERY single winter ... and what is not a real problem now.. all that exercise.. 10 or 20 years down the line.. it will be overwhelming ....

i would also suggest something other than a straight line of all the same plant.... if for no other reason.. to add visual interest ...


    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 8:47AM
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I completely understand the diversity argument for plant health. However, I don't have a problem with bugs or diseases because of my composting, and my homemade foliar spray applications to improve brix (my composts and foliar sprays are vegetation-based and have no animal products--no manures--except for the occasional shell.) And because I don't kill bugs or worry about random weeds here and there.

My climate information states on average 6" of snow. I'm going to assume that isn't problematic. Also, I don't buy plants from the big box stores.

The term Modern is often used interchangeably with New Formal when talking about garden design, and is rooted in Formal garden design. And, the purpose of the planting is a backdrop--adding diversity to a backdrop would be like trying to use printed gift wrap paper as canvas for an oil painting.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 6:40PM
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