Thuja green giant?

Kate89January 3, 2012

I'm in Alabama and don't have any experience planting trees. We live on 2 acres that's almost completely surrounded by cattle fence. I want something to line all around the fences, to keep us from seeing cows all the time. I really like the look of the thuja green giants, but I don't know much about them at all. I'm also not a gardner, so I don't know my soil type or anything like that- but I guess I can say we have really good dirt. It's always moist and dark borwn when we dig holes. Our whole yard has full sun and there's not alot of wind here. We get a pretty decent amount of rain.

I want something for privacy, but I don't want a hedge. I do want space in between the trees- I want them close, but not forming a solid wall. I'm really looking for height quick. There's a nursery nearby that sells them already about 8 ft high. I've heard it's better to plant them small, but would they survive if I plant them taller?

I really need to know if this is the tree for me, or should I be looking at something else. I want it to not only provide some privacy, but dress up my yard a little too. I don't want to have to prune or cut anything back. If I go with thujas, how far should I plant them from the fence? I don't want to have to move fences in my lifetime. I also need to know how far to space the trees apart to get the look I'm trying to achieve...when's the best time to plant, fetilizing info..

Thanks for any help or advice anyone can give me..


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I would not purchase that many green giants 8' tall because it'll require more water to get them established, more care, more time planting, and the cost would be high.

On another note, Green Giants are great, I have some. I planted them last spring about 1.5' tall, by the end of fall some were pushing 3'. That's about 1.5' in just 6-7 months. However, I have them planted in a line on one side of my property to block out our neighbors. I wouldn't plant them as a fence around the entire back yard. If I were you, I would plant a mixture of spruces, pines, & Green Giants. Purchase the spruces & pines a bit larger, purchase the Green giants smaller since they grow so fast. After a few years, the Green giants will block out most of the view until the spruces & pines get larger.

If you are planning to purchase so many large trees, you'll need machines to put them into the ground. I planted 2 field dug trees about 6 feet tall a couple years ago. From my experience, I would never do that again. To much manual labor and to much watering time.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 7:33AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


hi kate ...

in the banner is a search function box ... the GG [green giant] topic has been killed a couple million times ... please read thru some of them.. IF YOU HAVENT ALREADY ... to get a better grasp of all the info ... after that.. you can narrow down your questions for us ...

regardless of that ... here are a few thoughts ...

NEVER plant all of one kind of anything ... plagues come along.. and surely in 10 years.. you wouldnt want to see them all die ... odds are low.. but you have to think about it ...

you are in Farm country.. you have a COUNTY soil conservation district [perhasp assoc'd with the Ag office] .. basically what you want is a WIND BREAK ... which serves you as a sight break ... many SCD's offer much LOCAL info on such.. and many also offer small plants at discount prices .. at the proper planting time .. it is a good base of knowledge ...

next ... do not get in a box.. that involves simply your lot line ... and get all wrapped up in trying to do everything out there ... a couple well sited plants.. closer to the house.. can do the job much faster than those planted way out there ... e.g. a .. i dont know .. crabapple.. planted 15 feet out the kitchen window.. will in very short order.. block those darm milk machines ... faster than a small GG 100 feet out ... [i dont know if crab is a good example for you, but i hope you get the point] .. see pic below ...

also.. if you have prime seating points.. such as a patio or deck.. take the time to sit out there.. and conceptualize the above.. in regard to your piece of mind regarding those specific spots ...

next.. i would NEVER buy 8 foot trees ... as most are not SINGLE LEADER plants.. and can become big problems very fast.. and the bigger you buy .. the harder to plant .. and the longer for the plant to get ESTABLISHED and be care free ... its the difference between how my children get over a boo boo.. and me limping around for 3 months .... below is a pic of my GG that were 6 inches tall in spring of 2000 ... i could be suggested that a well planted.. well cared for 4 footer.. will get established and growing so much easier.. and that in 5 years.. it will outgrow a larger transplant.. just due to the lower stresses ...

also below.. is a pic of me hiding the neighbor 250 feet back ... now i dont really expect you to get that carried away .... but it is to show you that such blocking should not be limited to the property line ...

sooo ... mooo ... lol ... in the garden.. there is no QUICK FIX.. w/o an unlimited budget and hired gardeners ... bigger is not better .... diversify ... and.. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX ... [note i repeated that] ... other than maybe blinds on the windows ...

last thing... any newly planted tree.. requires at least 2 years of TLC after planting.. which mostly means.. PROPER WATERING .... and after that.. most become carefree .... there is some under current in your post.. that you are hoping for a plant and forget.. instant gratification solution ... i wish you luck with that ....

now .. if you have such a hatred for the bovine world.. how the heck did you end up being neighbors ...

good luck


oops.. almost forgot the pix ...

what you dont see in these pix.. is all the other stuff that would continue the sight block of the neighbors.. should these fail

this was a horse pasture back in 2000 ... the neighbor is at about 10 o'clock ... way out there ... i can see a bit of the house in winter when the oaks lose their leaves ....

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 8:28AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

If I may suggest Thuja occidentalis 'Wintergreen'/aka 'Hetz Wintergreen' spaced at 8 foot centers you would still have a plant with robust growth, while not as fast as Green Giant' but still something with potential to grow 18" + each year.

I've personally witnessed and have been a conifer plantsman for more than 10 years and have seen 'Wintergreen' trees six to seven feet wide at the base when they are 35 feet tall.

Evergreen Nursery sells this cultivar very-very inexpensively and the root system size is ideal for you.
I'll link you to the page showing the two sizes they sell.

'Green Giant' is going to in its' day become so immensely-huge that it will become in width, massive. In my professional opinion it's clearly the wrong plant, for you.

I see Evergreen Nursery (which I've purchased from and really like their plants) lists this cultivars as: Hetz Pyramidal. It's indeed the same plant as all the 'Wintergreen', names.

And here is a photo of me walking in front of two of these. Scroll down a few photos.

Best Regards,


Here is a link that might be useful: Evergreen Nursery - Thuja 'Hetz Pyramidal'

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Thank you everyone for your advice. Ken, You said not to plant all the same trees in a line, but you did exactly that. I can see there are other trees behind those, but still those are all in a line. =) Anyways, the first two pictures you posted are what I'm wanting to do. I have the money, my family has the equipment- I want to cover the whole area at once. I had seen online that the smaller trees were better, just wanted to see if there were exceptions. There are trees naturally growing on the fence line now, oaks and a few pines. So in the future there will the trees behind whatever I plant. We love the cows, we just want some blockage from their poop =) And our fences aren't looking their best either.

I will probablly opt out of the gg's since they get so big. And I think I'll take ricks advice and plant a mixture of trees. I'm just not really interested in any more pines, our yard has enough of those. And I'm thinking I will plant closer to the house, I want room between the trees and the fence to get a fourwheeler or lawnmower through there. Watering isn't a problem-just didn't want to prune anything.

Oh and I was going to order online, but after researching I found the few nurseries I was looking out turned out to be that has me turned off to the whole ordering online =(
Oh and ken- I am interested in planting some other type trees in the yard too, just wanted something on those darn fence lines. I've lived deep in the "woods" pretty much my whole life, so living out here has got me feeling pretty vulnerable. haha

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I'm also next to cow pasture. Planted Eastern Red Cedar at 30 to 45 ft. apart all along the fence line to break up the 200 yds of open field to the highway. After that "front line" of cedar, I have planted random scattered oak, elm, more Eastern Red Cedar, and Arizona Cypress for shade, winter greenery, and some additional screening generally spaced 30' apart on 1 1/2 acre yard.
My biggest Eastern Red Cedars are 6 years old and 15' cone shapes of green. They started at 2' height. In this area, they should attain 30-45' heights and about 15' or so of spread depending on the tree's genetics.
Where I grew up in north Louisiana people often planted Eastern Red Cedar, Magnolia, and Live Oak for extra greenery that was not pine.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 12:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

do not ignore my suggestion regarding the Ag office or SCD ...

yes .. mine are in a line.. a curving line.. its much more pleasant than a straight line on the property line ...

check out the link ... musser forests.. to discount ALL mail order for a few duds.. you are missing the boat on great potential ... dont forget... you can do a few specific large plants.. with many more small plants ...

throw in some spring flowering trees/shrubs... and all kinds of stuff ...

good luck

ps: do as i say.. not as i did ... the point of my pic.. is that they get big.. even when planted small ...

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 12:42PM
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Ken - what is your spacing on the GG in that pic?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 7:37AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

8 to 10 feet ...


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 7:57AM
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I heard not to plant a green giant in a place where it's slope (don't like too moist, though soil has been fixed, and plant high, etc... b/c reportedly quite drought tolerant once established... is that more BS... It was on a place where it was catching water, and temporarily moved into pot, needs to be very temp...
Also heard they fair miserably in compacted clay, another myth??? Plant high, find flare (That was fun, it was buried so so deep, extend whole wide, DONT ammend)... OBviously, the clay around roots needs loosened, mulched so feeders can grow out (the root prunings been done, the crap nursery soil washed off)... but i want some bigger feeders before ground gets too cold...........

Do they care about acidic (more) or alkaline? more?? some say they are resistant to phyphorta (will I ever spell that right)?? the westerns only... we'll see... they do get deep tap, correct??


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:09PM
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All Thuja are tolerant to a wide range of soils and moisture regimes. These are simply not fussy plants.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:52PM
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there may be something to the slope theory. I planted a bunch of green giants this past april. and all the ones that were planted on a down slope part of the yard seem to be struggling. one already died and about 5 others are now very yellow-light green color. others from the same batch planted in other locations are all thriving. these were around 5ft B&B trees.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:56AM
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Thanks AGAIN +oM, a lot... Lots of brains I wish I had from people on this forum...

Thetman, If anything, it's higher up on slope.. I can't remember what was good or bad, it will just have to be... once the drizzle stops and I can break up more freaking soil crap...Interesting thetman one died, mine was okay until I had to move, but new transplant... heavy trees you purchased there!

Thanks everyone, as always!


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:00PM
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I wish I could think of a single rationale for why GG, or for that matter, any Thuja would struggle on a sloping site. In nature, Thuja occidentalis-admittedly a different species-grows with ease on slopes, in the flat, even on a sheer limestone cliff. To my mind, there must be some other explanation for the apparent failure of those trees.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 5:52PM
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I wish I cold explain it- but I can't. maybe that part of the yard has something funky going on withe soil or something- who knows. We'll see how they fare this winter- but I have a feeling that more of them will not make it. wierd how others are doing great though.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Yeah sometimes we simply don't know what is causing plant failure. Then we sometimes ascribe this failure to this or that reason! Still not knowing. Just the way it is.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:50PM
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