75 Ft. of Canadian Hemlock or American Arborvitae?

indianawendy(z5-6)July 27, 2006

We need a privacy and wind screen for our back and side yard. The back is 75 ft. long and side is 40. The back corner of the yard slopes away from the house, so I want something tall enough in that corner, that will provide privacy for the deck, but not too tall to block the beautiful view of hills beyond. A mature height of 15' or so. The other two ends of the hedge need be only 6-8'.

A straight hedge would be quite formal. I prefer to plant groupings, but I don't want to make it look choppy or too random.

My two top choices right now are Canadian Hemlock (how tall does it get?) and American Arborvitae (grows to 18').

1. Which would you choose of those two?

2. If I use a combination of both, should I add some more variety in my shrub choices? (mostly fast-growing evergreens)

3. Advice on how to devise groupings? I have a lot of long space to fill. Mostly full sun, average soil, lots of wind, zone 5-6.

Thanks much!

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saypoint(6b CT)

I googled Canadian Hemlock

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 3:07PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Arborvitae vary in height quite a bit depending on the cultivar.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 3:10PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Hemlocks throughout the east are being killed by the wooly adelgid. That would make the decision for me.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 3:12PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Both are deer fodder. That said I personally prefer the hemlock. It can e pruned eitherfor a formal or an informal look.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 3:58PM
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tinamcg(Z5b Kansas City)

I prefer the Canadian hemlock too. I was talking to a plant tech at Morton Arboretum about them last week and said I was reluctant to go with hemlocks because of the wooly adelgid. She wasn't the least bit concerned about it. I guess the folks at Morton believe it will be eradicated before it makes its way this far west?

Tina McG

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 4:46PM
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I have a 28 year old hedge of Canadian hemlocks. They were knee-high when I bought them for $5.99 each. It is important to remember that hemlocks are trees, not shrubs. A happy, healthy hemlock will get to 40' in no time at all. It is a mighty struggle to keep them down and dense.

We prune our hedge in late winter, as soon as the snow melts. Once a year does it but it is a big job. We bought a very tall stepladder just for this purpose. We did it ourselves for years but now I pay an arborist, whom I trained to do it my way, $400.

The sides are sheared and the top as well. The arborist tells me the top branches are now very thick. He has to use a lopper instead of the shears. It puts on 3 feet of vertical growth a year.

We live in adelgid country but this hedge has none. I have never treated it but watch like a hawk, as does the arborist.

I would never plant Canadian hemlocks again as a hedge unless I had the room to just let it go and grow naturally. It is just too big a tree for the normal property. It's a lot of maintenance and now the deer are eating it, thinning it out so it loses its usefulness as a screen.

Arborvitaes have their own issues like snow load damage. And some of them get way too tall too. And deer devour them. Sorry to bear such bad news!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 5:07PM
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bhrost(zone 5 NY)

I'd go with the arborvitae for ease of maintenance. I have both growing along my boundary, and I'd have to say the arborvitae requires less maintenance and produces a better screen. Hemlock is probably more happy as an independent tree than as a hedge component. Arborvitae with single leaders (like the ones I have) are quite snow resistant. A lot of the ones they sell are the multi-stemmed type though, which from my observations are more likely to be pushed out of shape by winter conditions.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 6:49PM
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I was wondering if anyone could give me some info. We just planted 30 of the canadian hemlocks a week ago. They were all between 9 and 15 inches tall. We planted them 5 feet apart as were the instructions for a hedge. We mixed the soil with peat and made the mounds and planted them. Then covered the mounds with mulch. We have watered as necessary to keep them moist but not too wet. At the end of one week, some have completely lost all their needles! Is this normal? Are we or did we do something wrong? Can anyone tell us what we need to do and how exactly to care for these? We asked where we purchased but didn't really get answers. Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 11:29AM
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If they have lost all their needles, in my experience it is very unlikely they will come back. As they are new plants, the nursery should replace them. It sounds as if you did everything right when you planted them.

Care of new plants: water regularly--more than for established plants; mulch; prune religiously to keep them in shape and dense-growing. I also fertilize with 10-10-10 at time of planting but I know a lot of people don't recommend this. And then fertilize every spring by sprinkling 10-10-10 lightly on the ground around all of them. If you have great soil, you can skip this once they are established--after three to five years.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 12:53PM
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