Need recommendation for fast growing conifer?

sorkaJanuary 2, 2008

I'd like to use a fast growing conifer as a privacy screen along 2 property lines totalling about 650 feet.

I'd like a fast growing tree that I can plant about 9 feet apart with overlapping canopies. Something that does not shed in the winter would be preferable to maintain privacy year round.

Anything that grows 3 feet / year or more would be fine.

I'd also, ideally, like something that grows quick but eventually slows and doesn't become hundreds of feet tall.

I like the Dawn Redwood, but it sheds in the winter. I also like the Coastal Redwood, but it may get too large.

The Thuja Green Giant is another one I'm thinking about, but it's a bit pricey and there seems to be some debate on just how fast it grows.

My soil conditions are moist clay but never flooded. I'm located in Central California (Merced). We often have a few weeks during the summer of 100+ temps and at least 2 months of often freezing temps down to the high 20's.

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With conifers, grows fast = grows large; you can't have one without the other. If you want something that grows fast and then stops, try bamboo.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 4:45AM
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Moist clay and conifers don't mix at all, so you're not going to have much luck anyhow.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 5:06AM
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mdvaden_of_oregon(NW Oregon)

Almost reminds me of a property up near Wilsonville, Oregon, that someone from California just acquired. They contacted me about the roadside of 9 acres, where trees will need to line that edge. Seems to be about 900 feet if I remember. Can easily take muliple rows of small or very large trees.

I suspect if you have a bit of width to the strip, that big may be okay.

Sequoia's are superb, but not too fast at first. But can be placed a bit closer than coastal redwood, which I also like alot.

If you can do a staggered continual triangular spacing, that's very practical, but not essential.

Blue atlas cedar is worth checking into.

You could mix several types into areas. If you like what you find online for Arizona Cypress 'Blue Ice', it could be placed a bit closer than the big trees.

Odds are, that 10' spacing trunk to trunk is getting "squeek" but possible. But you would need to do some pruning once they met.

See what you think of Grand fir.

Anyhow, those are some favorites.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon - the tree guy.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 5:12AM
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"Moist clay and conifers don't mix at all..........."

I'd not place too much stock in this statement. If Lucy had said SOME conifers, it'd be okay, but as her statment stands, well, it's just plain wrong.

I think, for example, the genus Thuja would handle this situation well.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 7:13AM
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mdvaden_of_oregon(NW Oregon)

Moist clay and conifers do mix very well. That's one benefit of living in a major conifer environment like west Oregon, or west Washington. We see first-hand how they grow in many clay soils. We have huge conifer forests here, and many of our soils are clay soils. Not neccesarily dense clay like is found along some flood plains, but it's frequently in the clay range of the soil triangle.

The best recommendation for trees in our region is that soil be kept moist.

If soils are not moist, then we are looking at "permanent wilting point".

There is a big difference between saturated soil and moist soil.

Unless we are growing something like cactus, we need to aim for moist soil for many conifers.

When our Oregon conifers in the clay type soils get extra summer rain, the growth rings get bigger in most cases because they flourish even more, due to the soil being more moist.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:44PM
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I would never try bamboo. Too many horror stories about it spreading, crossing property bounderies, spreading more, lawsuits, etc.

The statement that conifers don't grow well in clays is completely absurd. Maybe there are some that don't but we have lots of conifers in our neighborhood that grow like crazy in our clay soil including Coastal Redwoods, Thuja, and Dawn Redwoods. I'm sure there are more.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I agree that the wet clay and conifers statement doesn't hold up. At least in my experience.

I live in the middle of a moutain valley with pretty good clay 18-24" down. There is water everywhere. I have no basement, just a crawlspace with a sump pump because of the high water table.

Most people here grow various spruce trees. Colorado Blue does particularly well. I am having good success with Frasier fir, grand fir, larches (L. laricania--don't remember common name), eastern white pine, norway spruce, dawn redwoods, and others.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:56PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Clumping bamboos are MUCH more mannerly than the running ones. They mostly just do a little expanding as they grow, unlike some of the running ones. If you can mow all around a running bamboo, for at least 20-30', then you can probably keep it in check, otherwise, running water, or a VERY solid and deep metal barrier is the only sure stop.

Lucy, I don't know what you have against clay soils, but trees, and most other plants can grow very well in them. If you are trying to grow things that demand perfect drainage, then I would agree that clay is a very bad soil for THAT plant. Pick your plant for your soil, and not vice versa, and they should grow just fine.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 2:03PM
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Bamboo is an excellent fast growing screening plant. If it has been selected and planted carefully, there is no reason to be afraid of it. Most of the horror stories associated with bamboo derive from ignorance, improper planting and lack of maintenance. And as dibbit notes, there are many forms of clumping (as opposed to running) bamboo on the market and they do not behave any more aggressively as do most other clump forms of ornamental grass. And one of the big bonuses of bamboo is that they bloom and set seed so infrequently that even the clumping forms are extremely unlikely to spread via self-seeding.

Bamboo is a great choice for your purposes and location and I'd urge you to do some research to become more familiar with these plants before dismissing them out of hand.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 2:25PM
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mdvaden_of_oregon(NW Oregon)

As far as what "wet" is, that's why it's important to realize just what kind of clay soil is present, and how wet that wet needs to be.

Because hundreds of thousand of acres of conifers grow in the forest seen in CA, WA and OR, where clay soils are moist and often wet.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 1:09PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

If I didn't already know that conifers can grow on wet clay, I sure know now! Hehehehe!!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 2:18PM
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I'd bet any west coast areas having clay soils will have VERY wet clay soil in the next few days! I'm a weather geek too, and that's some impressive stuff happening out there. I've seen reports of as much as 10 feet of snow possible for the high Sierras!


    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 5:49PM
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I'd be careful about any type of redwood in your area.

Why not go to a local arboretum or even a good city park and see what is healthy and meets your needs?

Ever consider Italian Cypress? They are a wonderful screen and seem to tolerate just about anything.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 10:57PM
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