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I want to plant a privacy hedge with emerald green arborvitae. I am trying to determine the most economical trunk-to-trunk spacing that will eventually result in a hedge you cannot see through at eye level. I know that emerald green arborvitae have a mature width of 3 to 4 feet, but I've read conflicting advice on how far apart to plant them: anything from 2 to 4 feet trunk-to-trunk. These trees are expensive, so I want to purchase as few of them as possible.

I live in Massachusetts, but I doubt I am the only one with this question. If there is a mature emerald green arborvitae hedge in your backyard, please share a picture and let us know how far apart the trunks are.

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Depends how quickly you want your privacy hedge to be dense - as you say, the predicted eventual spread is 3-4 feet, but at ten years, the spread is predicted at 24-30 inches per plant. If you don't mind waiting till the trees have reached full maturity, you can plant them 3 to 4 feet apart, but if you want the hedge to give full privacy within five years or less, you'd need to space them 2 feet apart or less. It all comes down to speed of growth to form a solid hedge - the more closely spaced the plants, the quicker you get that result: which is also why there's conflicting advice about how close to space plants.

  • Thank you for your answer. I would like these arborvitae to eventually become a hedge you cannot see through at eye level. Is this what you mean by "full privacy"? – Jack Elsey Aug 25 '16 at 13:41
  • Yes, that's exactly what I mean - also 'dense' meaning not able to see through... – Bamboo Aug 25 '16 at 14:37
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I have been doing a lot of research on this topic too. You can also use the zig zag method. Plant the first line of trees 3-4 ft apart, then make a zig zag with the second line also 3-4 ft apart. This way there are no breaks in the privacy screen.

  • That's called staggering! It is great for hedgerows and windbreaks. – J. Musser Sep 7 '17 at 20:32

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