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.


3 Answers 3


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
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 13:41
  • Yes, that's exactly what I mean - also 'dense' meaning not able to see through...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 14:37

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
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 20:32

I have planted 40 of them 3ft apart. 6 years down the road... I have no issues with them and the privacy is awesome. Can't see through them. It took 2-3 years for them to go into each other. Mulching only with dead fall leaves. Cut the tops twice so the growth can expand sideways. Now they are 20 ft tall with 10-15 ft high of full privacy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.