effect of spacing on root growth of Podocarpus gracilior

Deni416October 2, 2012

I am planting a 35 foot row of Podocarpus gracilior in my Los Angeles backyard as a screen up against a new 8 ft wooden fence. I am trying to decide how far apart to space them. The 10 I have purchased so far would be about 6-7 ft in the ground. I don't know if I should space them every 2 or 2.5 ft to get a completely solid hedge look quickly, or to buy fewer and space them a bit further apart & have gaps between them for awhile longer. The fence is not bad looking. My main question here is if there is an additional advantage of the roots staying smaller if they are planted close together. I usually see them planted 2 foot apart in the LA area, but I imagine they would eventually form a solid screen if they are 3 foot apart. Will they grow faster if planted 3 foot apart? They will be in full sun. I would ultimately like them around 12 foot high.

Thanks for your input

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I don't know if I should space them every 2 or 2.5 ft to get a completely solid hedge look quickly, or to buy fewer and space them a bit further apart & have gaps between them for awhile longer.

==>>> yes.. this is the dichotomy you face..

make up your mind.. and JUST DO IT ...

i know nothing of you zone or the listed plant.. but in general.. JUST DO IT ... planting plants of similar size.. will allow them to match competition levels.. and get the job done ..

link below to a good general planting guide.. check drainage .... do not amend.. unless real bad clay ... other suggestions for that.. water deeply on planting.. mulch properly.. and then let them NEAR DRY in between deep waterings [none pf this spraying the leaves stuff] .. do not fert.. unless a soil test shows something is missing from your soil ...

JUST DO IT ... according to your decision ..

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:14AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I've got a neighbor with them on 3' centers, she got a beautiful solid tall screen in just a few months, but a quality screen does require good care.

You have to keep them straight by correct staking (two stakes away from the trunk, not the single one right next to the trunk the way it comes from the garden center--that method is for transport protection, not growing.) and she has had them tipped back regularly every few months since planting.

Do not just plant and forget. Maintenance and good care will give you a beautiful screen. Podocarpus is perfectly happy trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. It is a beautiful tree that makes a beautiful hedge IF NOT NEGLECTED.

Also do not plant them too close to the fence! It will be hard on the fence, and hard on the trees. Wooden fences don't last long, when it is time to rebuild it, you don't want to have to struggle with the Podocarpus at that time.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:32AM
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Deni416

Thank hoovb,
I think I will go with the 3' centers. The wooden fence is actually on top of a cinder block retaining wall. I was thinking of planing about 18 inches from the block wall. Do you think that is reasonable? I plan to keep on top of tipping them back. What size were your neighbor's when they were planted?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Deni416

Thank hoovb,
I think I will go with the 3' centers. The wooden fence is actually on top of a cinder block retaining wall. I was thinking of planing about 18 inches from the block wall. Do you think that is reasonable? I plan to keep on top of tipping them back. What size were your neighbor's when they were planted?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:26PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

for the plants at the link .. 18 inches from a cement wall is totally insufficient .... IMHO ....

basically.. you will have to completely denude the entire plant.. to the top of the fence on that side ...

of course if you let it go natural above that.. it might not end up too bad.. presuming the neighbor doesnt mind the 5 to 10 foot encroachment on their side of the fence ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:21PM
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strobiculate

I gotta ask...who really cares what the side facing a permanent barrier such as a block wall looks like? Of course it's gonna look sh%##y, but unless you plan on a second life as a fairy or a toad, you aren't going to be spending a lot of time looking at it...which is why you planted something in the first place, to hide that barrier and to have the much more aesthetically pleasing plant facing you, not the wall, look good. And as for width, there are solutions for that.

As far as the effect of spacing on root growth, not sure anyone has the answer to that, not sure it has been studied in that way. Every spacing study i've seen is about top development, and most discussions i've had are about practical matters, such as how wide to allow for ease of digging with (brand) spade.

Strictly speculating, i'd say that similar to development of crowns, closer spacing may push roots to grow where there is less competition, pushing wide out from the row, but roots also freely form grafts where ever they cross, so it may all be blowing smoke to even try to answer the question.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:57AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

If it was me I would do 3' from the fence minimum, but that's me. Too close to the block wall and you will have a perfect view of scraggly weak growth next to the wall with the block wall as a clean back drop so you do not miss any of the scraggle. Not to mention the roots against the footings of the block wall. However of course you may not have 3' to work with. For long term health and beauty, as much space as you can possibly give is a good idea. In nature these trees can easily get 60' wide.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Deni416

Ken Adrian, the pics in the link you posted show P.g. as a tree form and not the way they are commonly used as a hedge or screen in Los Angeles. What I see most of the time around here is spacing about 1 to 2 ft apart and quite close to the fence or wall. Sometimes I see 3 or more ft apart. The plants are sheared to keep the plant depth 2.5-3 ft wide, even the part that grows above the fence on both properties. It looks real lush without that Christmas tree sheared end look.
I was trying to get advice about the healthiest spacing while minimizing heaviest root development. What strobiculate writes about that makes sense. Thanks to all for the advise. I�m still interested in any input on this.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Deni416

Ken Adrian, the pics in the link you posted show P.g. as a tree form and not the way they are commonly used as a hedge or screen in Los Angeles. What I see most of the time around here is spacing about 1 to 2 ft apart and quite close to the fence or wall. Sometimes I see 3 or more ft apart. The plants are sheared to keep the plant depth 2.5-3 ft wide, even the part that grows above the fence on both properties. It looks real lush without that Christmas tree sheared end look.
I was trying to get advice about the healthiest spacing while minimizing heaviest root development. What strobiculate writes about that makes sense. Thanks to all for the advise. I�m still interested in any input on this.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:14PM
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