Planting Arborvitaes in the garden is a great way to create a living fence. Shrubs (and conifers) are great for adding beauty to your landscape and blocking your view of the neighbors’ backyard. Plus there is an upside- attracting birds like Finches and Cardinals to make nests and giving the birds protection in the winter.
I have grown Arborvitaes (zones 5-7) in my yard and garden for years because I love the shape, the color, and the no fuss maintenance of this conifer (evergreen). In my experience here in zone 7 they grow great as a privacy hedge or in pots and in 7 years my Green Giant Arborvitae have grown more than 10′ (they are now about 14’tall). I have red clay soil and the Arborvitae have done really well with 4″ of mulch under their limbs. I also take a walk around the garden and check the Arborvitae for bagworms and insect infestations just as I do with all my garden plants. In my experience I have not had any real problems with disease or pests but that does not mean it cannot happen.
With any plant and especially evergreens, you will get some browning and dropping needles/leaves (usually on the inside of the shrub) in the fall/winter. Do not be alarmed it is a normal shedding process. If the plant does not stop turning brown and losing its leaves, then you have a problem.
My two favorite Arborvitaes to grow for privacy are:
- Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) which gets about 12” tall and 3-4′ wide
- (and for screening) I love Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata) which can reach heights of 50+’ and spread to 20′ across!
There are other varieties too like ‘Little Giant’ which is more round in shape and grows about 4-5′ and wide. The heights and widths vary in zones and in soils. I have 3 Green Giant Arborvitaes I planted from 3 gallon pot in 2009 and about 4′ tall and they are beautiful now reaching 12′ high and 4+’ wide. I planted them in red clay soil next to an Oak tree that is 30′ tall and they receive morning sun and scattered afternoon sun. They do prefer a well drained soil but will grow in clay soil as long as they do not have wet feet (they do not like soggy soil).
Arborvitaes are full sun to part sun plants. I grow them here in my zone 7 garden in morning sun til noon day and a few hours of afternoon sun under the mighty Oaks in my backyard. 6 hours of sun is what they seem to need to thrive. Once established they do need watered or irrigated unless in extreme drought. I have to add that I have never fertilized mine in 7 years either. I keep them mulched with about 4″ of mulch (but not next to the trunk) and they seem extremely happy.
For a no fuss and low maintenance evergreen (conifer) Arborvitae are great. Another plus? They are fairly inexpensive at the big box garden centers like Home Depot. No plant, in my experience, is fool proof but for me and my garden and yard Arborvitae can’t be beat. There are many varieties of Arborvitaes that can be grown in zones 2 -8.
For colder zones, the Arborvitae may need to be protected from winter winds with a burlap wrap or some sort of wind barrier (there is no need to buy any ‘wilt stop’ or anti-desiccant sprays). For wintery weather, it is advisable to remove the heavy snow and ice to avoid breaking the limbs and branches off your Arborvitae or any other tree or shrub. I have found the Arborvitae a pretty adaptable and hardy plant.
Thank you for stopping by and if you ever have a question, feel free to contact me.
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2016 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @The Garden Frog Boutique