Is 1 meter (3.2') spacing between blue spruces right?

Sungarden12November 18, 2011

We live in zone 5B, and our north-west side faces a local highway, so we got strong winter wind and daytime cars. We selected blue spruce to cover the 900 property line. To start, we had a local tree farmer dug out 260 blue spruces from his densely planted farm area. He instructed us to plant them in two rows, leaving 2 meters (6.5')between each rows, and 1 meter (3.2')between each tree. That way he told us that the branches will really "embrace" each other.

Now after finishing those 260 trees, we found that the trees are too close. So we stopped ordering new tress and started to search the internet and asking people. My opposite neighbor who planted a row of white spruces 15 years ago, with a distance of 2 meters, now aren't get their tress in good and full-growth form, especially with the lower branches.

Should we space it otherwise? Is the instructions from my nursery right? The snow is not coming yet, so we might have time to redo it.

Please help. Thanks.

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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Blue spruce = Picea pungens.

Are they species trees or do they have a cultivar name associated with them?

Here is a rule of thumb to go by.

Spruce trees planted as windbreaks and privacy screens should be spaced so that they will barely touch when full-grown. Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) should be planted 10 to 20 feet apart, while a large species like Norway spruce (P. abies) will require 25 to 40 feet.

Adequate spacing ensures good air circulation, reducing the chances of fungal diseases and insect damage. Trees that grow into each other will be bare on one side, causing an eyesore if a tree has to be removed


    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 2:50PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

below is a pic of picea pungens hoopsi .. i doubt yours are of that color ...

regardless... it will give you a fair indication of its growth potential..

it was planted as a one gallon one foot tall potted plant ... in the year indicated ... 2003

i just dont know what to say about what your guy told you .. i would NEVER have planted 900 feet or meters of all one kind of plant ...

leave one ..... i would probably take out 3 ... and replace the middle hole with a different plant .... so that if some plague comes along.. you wont lose everything .... and then i would plant those taken out .... down the line ...

and all that would be closer to daves suggested spacing ....

it is too late to be doing this in my z5 MIchigan... just south of ann arbor [which would be about 45 miles due west of you].... i would probably do it as soon as the ground thaws in late march .....

good luck


    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 3:37PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Picea pungens should no longer be used as a screening species in the midwest.

Picea abies against the wind and Picea omorika on the inside. Picea glauca could be intermixed as well. If blue is required and drainage is great, Abies concolor could also be intermixed.

Are you committed to these plants?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 4:03PM
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I have emailed my nursery guy for the name, although he didn't reply yet, I think the trees should be Colorado blue spruce.

I went out to watch my neighbour's white spruce screen again, and found that if it were 4 meters between each, it should be much better. So it is a good idea to take out 3.

The area we live is Gatineau Park, Quebec. We have some small pines and white spruces growing here and there. Thinking to add some pines or white spruce as a third row. But somebody told me that different spruces growing together might increase the chance of getting disease. Pines always have a lot of leaves in autumn. Norway spruce might get under electrical line along the local highway...

Another neighbor has a magnificent big blue spruce of more than 20 years old. On its left side, 3 meters away, there is a big maple tree of the same age. Only today after I read the reply from Dave, I went to check the tree, and noticed that the blue spruce has a bare side because of the maple tree. It is unnoticeable in summer when there are a lot of maple leaves covering it.

So now I got it: at least 4 meters between each tree, but still not sure what is the distance each staggered row.

This afternoon there is a bit of snow outside. We are thinking we should continue to work. Should we? Thanks for your advices. It is a very helpful forum.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 6:15PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

But somebody told me that different spruces growing together might increase the chance of getting disease.

Hopefully it wasn't the guy who sold you 250 Picea pungens!

Look up Rhizosphaera needle cast. This species is HIGHLY susceptible to this disease. Its more of an issue when using this species as a screen. Perhaps this disease isn't as much of a concern in QC.

The good news is that you are now going with 4m (13') and also considering other species.

Consider staggering in groups of 5, 1, 3, 5, 1, 3. Just a suggestion, definitely not a rule by any means.

By adopting a diversity strategy there will be minimal impact if you do have any failures.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 8:30PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)


Picea pungens (Colorado Blue Spruce or Blue Spruce) is a species of spruce which we think you have planted.

A cultivar is a cultivated variety of a plant species. In your case Picea pungens. You could have planted a Picea pungens cultivar. If so knowing what it is will determine the planting distance.

Make sure you get the cultivar name if there is one.

If no cultivar name then Picea pungens species is what we are dealing with and the 4-6 meter planting distance is fine.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 8:34PM
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Now I have received the reply from whom I bought the trees.

"The trees are a population of Picea pungens var. argentea, common name Colorado blue spruce. Imagine the hedges where the trees are planted even at shorter distances between them. Are they bare at one side? In time, if you discard such a tree, its neighbour will be bare at one side, the side exposed to the removed tree. Do not worry about disease and insects, they will not be affected. Even in my nursery where the seedling are planted at high densities we do not have such issues, and we do not apply any pesticides."

More than one tree suppliers suggested 1 meter distance to us. Among them, one sells blue spruce, one sells white spruce.

It is interesting that when we drove to Ottawa downtown via the highway 5, we spotted that between exit 10 and 13, there are many screening spruces to hide residential buildings along the highway, with only 1 meter distance, which are growing very vivid. Those trees were planted in many rows, growing like dense woods, and the ages of those trees are between 10-15 years. So my hubs pointed them to me, "Look, look," and wished that I will not make him working again. Alas!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Saw this post and thought I'd throw my 2 cents in. This is a screen of picea pungens 'Fat Albert' I planted five years ago or so to block the unforgiving south winds we get in the summer. I have the trees about six paces apart, or 18 feet, I'd expect them to touch when mature. In front of this row 18' are a staggered row of concolor firs

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

That's f.* argentea and it covers any and all of them with a silvery color.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 10:28PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Harv, sorry to ask an off topic question but do you have purple martins? I have several purple martin pole up too and really enjoy the birds while I'm out working in my gardens.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Sungarden12, Planting spruce as close as you have will result in trees with no lower branches when they get older. In years to come your windbreak will look like a pulpwood plantings. If you check the width of a full grown blue spruce you will find it to be 25/30 feet wide. I planted a windbreak in 1990 (with three different kinds of spruce) on 25 foot spacing and wish now that it had been 30'. We should never ever use all one kind of tree. The guy that sold these to you and, had you plant these that close, isn't a very honest person in my opinion.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 9:21AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I would love to see some pics of your screen SG.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 9:33AM
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This spacing question had me, around highway exits, the ministry of transportation planted hundreds of red pines 10 or 15 years ago, to act as windbreaks. They planted them at about 4 or 5 feet apart! They have one branch in the front and one branch in the back! Shouldn't they know better? What a waste of time and taxpayers money...

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Yes Ladylotus I have just a small colony. I just keep it at eight gourds, which I need to get downed and cleaned. With that small of colony I get mostly adult birds. Mine arrive around April 14th, when do yours arrive? They're singing and carrying on are m constant companion while I garden.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 6:31PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Harv, my purple martins generally arrive around the last week in April. Since I moved out into the country about 16 years ago, I've really struggled establishing a colony. With that said, right now I have a small colony too. But I sure hope it increases by leaps and bounds in the next several years.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 8:22PM
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