best Thuja for my environment

Asked September 11, 2015, 11:51 AM EDT

I live in CT, borderline zones 5/6. I took out some old hemlocks and want to replace them with Thuja - either "green giants" or "nigra" as they seem to be the best via availability, cost, and heartiness from my research. Besides the rate of growth, color differences, etc., I would like to know which one would be the heartiest for my conditions. They would form a privacy hedge,about 40' long but their NW side would be subject to the NW winter winds with a long open one mile fetch. The sun will shine on both the NW and SE sides with some partial shade from an oak that is SW of this proposed hedge row. I can water them extensively during the early fall when I plan to plant them (apx. 6 ft. ones; spacing nigra @ 3' - and/or giants @ 5'). Also, any other suggestions (Ideally the hedge's mature height will be 6/7' after pruning off the top growth after a year or so) for planting them - and/or other alternatives for this hedge row? I really don't want to cover them for the up coming, or subsequent winters. Please ask me any other questions you may have that will guide my selection.

Fairfield County Connecticut evergreens plant selection hedge

3 Responses

If you want a hedge with a mature height of 6/7 feet, neither nigra or green giant would be a good choice because they become very tall trees and continual pruning will not be healthy for them. Other Thuja are possible, such as Emerald Green, etc. Hollies are another possibility. Check what is available locally. Hollies are much more tolerant of being pruned. Check with your local garden centers and see what they recommend, what you find attractive. Making a hedge is frequently a problem. Inevitably one of the plants dies and the hedge is uneven. You could consider planting an assortment of plants, making something asymmetrical that would not be ruined if one plant dies and has to be replaced. Check your local library for landscaping ideas and possible arrangement of plants. You also need to consider how wide this planting can get. Some plants tend to get much wider than others. Since you have a windy spot, you might want to plant in early spring so that whatever you plant can get established to some degree before the winter winds strike. vw

Thanks for the suggestion. I thought the same about the wind. We were planning on possibly staggering the trees so if one did die - and with other shubs around the trees - it wouldn't look so bad until the tree matured to match the others. I have a holly variety, but since this one grows very slowly, I am afraid that I would never obtain any hedge row in my lifetime if they still were in their conical shape with gaps. Any other relatively fast growing trees that may work, or possibly a faster growing holly? But, my neighbor on my other side has many, many Thujas (don't know the variety but they are slow growing) and they have been pruned, mostly on the top to a level hedge row about eight ft. high. They have remained very healthy for well over twenty years and counting. I was planning on just pruning by topping them after a year or so, seven ft. at least and maybe to eight ft.

You may want to consider Thuja occodentalis "Emerald" (10-15 ' x 3-4' )and a mix of different hollies in your height range as mentioned above. Ilex glabra, inkberry is just one example of many types of holllies to choose from. Visit your local nurseries for their recommendation and what is available. Generally broadleaved evergreen are best planted in the spring.
If you decide to plant you will have to keep well watered up until the ground freezes and the next season during dry periods.
Contact your local extension for recommendations in your area.