I recently purchased these leylandii trees from an online garden center to form a hedge at the back of our garden.

I am concerned they are quite wispy at the moment. I recently saw a neighbors young leylandii and they were mush bushier than these.

Do you think these will thicken up OK? Any thoughts and advice would be much appreciated. I’ve tried to upload a photo but it doesn’t seem to work. They are about 4 foot at the moment.

  • Do you have any pictures?
    – DCookie
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 16:14
  • Photos would be helpful, but failing that, if you are not happy with the plants, or they look weak or diseased, return them to the place you bought from.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


Cupressus x leylandii, AKA Leyland Cypress and until recent years it was × Cuprocyparis leylandii. New genetic research has found that one it's parents was misnamed, resulting it being given a new botanical name as well.

The Leyland Cypress is a fast vertical growing tree, growing on average 3' a year. I have personally have had landscapers report it growing as much as 5' in one year. This trait has lead it to become a popular hedge/screening tree.

This tree is grown only from cuttings. If left to grow naturally the start as very tall skinny trees filling out with age. Some growers, like the large US grower Monrovia, shear these trees when they are young. Which results in a fuller denser looking tree, but this means it takes the grower longer to get to the same height, as the first grower that left it to grow natural.

If you had received the fuller denser tree and did not know you needed to shear it once a year and shape it throughout the year, your tree would soon be spares above the growers work.

How do you get a fuller denser tree start with pruning in the summer. Winter pruning promotes fast growth in a tree, where summer pruning and shearing promotes dense growth. If you want a tree that continues to get tall, but remains fuller, in early summer remove 2/3 of this springs' top growth and shape the side shoots, shearing them back some. The tree will continue to grow through out the rest of the summer. Each year at early summer you will repeat this routine. Never removing any of the summers growth, just 2/3 of the Spring's growth. If you want to control the size of your tree you will want to prune all of this summers growth and then again in early-autumn prune the summers growth. Making sure you do so early not too late in the year. Winter pruning will promote fast growth in spring. The opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Royal Horticultural Society recommends pruning this tree 2-3 times a year

You can always leave the tree to grow as it would naturally resulting in a 50' or more tree.

Plant Leyland Cypress in a full sun location. In well drained soil. This tree is quite drought tolerant, the opposite of most hedging trees, which require quite a bit of irrigation. Missouri Botanical Garden information on Leyland Cypress


Leylandii trees are fast fast growing and always sparse when young. These trees need a good 5' diameter of soil per tree. I always offset the trees which makes for a more predictable screen as well as if one dies then it isn't a big deal.

If you are able move your young trees to be offset and not in a straight line I would do this now, should not hurt your trees.

Have you fertilized? Very important. Use a tree stake fertilizer, very safe. Watering your trees will be important. Does your land slope at all?

Go ask your neighbors where they got their trees, what fertilizer they've used, check their drainage and how much how often they water.

I would pull every other tree forward about 3' from the original line. These trees will thicken trust me.

  • If you are in the northern hemisphere this is the wrong time of year to fertilise. Fertilise again in early spring. You can shear the side branches in late winter to get to fill in more in spring. Then again in July a light shear to get it to fill in even more.
    – GardenGems
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 22:04
  • Fertilizing in the winter is never a good idea. Shearing gets tricky because once a branch is headed it stops growing. Yes, cutting the apical tips puts more energy down the branch and into the trunk. But one has to be on top of shearing and timing. Ugh. Otherwise the natural form of leylandii is ruined. Have you ever tried Thuya plicata 'Virescens'? This is my tree for privacy.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 23:17

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