Return to the Conifers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Posted by moissy PA (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 12, 09 at 11:06

A noisy gas compressor station was just built next door to our farm. We've talked them into planting a Norway Spruce screen in front of their actual building. And we'll also be planting additional NS trees ourselves along our mutual property line.

They are talking about planting two rows of 6' tall trees in front of their building. What planting distance should we suggest to them to get a relatively quick eventual solid hedge? I doubt they would be willing to plant at 6' centers and then thin later. These will probably be left to grow as is. However, we are in our 50s, so don't want to wait forever for the trees to fill in. Thanks.

Moissy


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Click on the link for some ideas on spacing.

It is nice your neighbors are willing to help out. You may want to plant something different on your side just for variety. If a blight comes along that kills Norway Spruce, then at least part of the screen might remain. How much room do you have on your side?

tj

Here is a link that might be useful: Spruce space


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

We have lots of room on our side...it's an open hayfield on our side, so we can add as many trees as we like. Right now we are only separated by a narrow line of oaks/maples/wild cherries along a 1000 mutual boundary treeline. So it's a lot of area to screen. Big deer country also. Coupled with our ages, we'd like to get something more than seedlings.


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Wow, to be limited only by budget and imagination. Well, I suppose the deer may be troublesome. What zone are you, hows the soil (clay, sand, highground, etc) and would this just serve as a view blocker or would a windbreak also be beneficial? And how much of that property line do you want to cover?

tj


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

14 feet or thereabouts. 12 is fine but no less than 12. 15 ok.

This is a Norway spruce screen (second row in) at about 18 foot apart. First row is Colorado spruce then the row in front of the Norway's is a Pine.

Dax
Photobucket

One more of the same:
Photobucket


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

TJ
We're in Zone 6 SW Pennsylvania. Clay soil. On a hill. LOTS of wind - we just built a new home on a farm. Hayfields everywhere and few trees, so we're starting on our big tree planting adventure. We met with the gas people yesterday. They will plant two rows of Norway Spruce in front of their bldg. and plant 10 on our side anywhere we want. Then we plan to add as many trees as possible on our own as part of our own landscaping. I'd like to plant a larger buffer along the entire 1000 ft. if we can.

Dax - Thanks for the great photos. That really helped. Any idea how old those Spruces are?

If we go with a two or three deep planting as the photos show, would it make any difference which conifers we used since the Norways grow fastest? I'm afraid of shading the others out too much. Was thinking of a row of Douglas Firs and row of something else. Possibly also some quaking aspen...Any thoughts? Thanks.
Moissy


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

I'd guess them to be right at 28 feet tall so if they were planted as a six foot seedling and it took them two years to establish and then a few more years to reach their peak growing, you're looking at ~12-14 years old.

Dax


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Moissy:

It is hard to give advice about something like you are asking about because everyone has somewhat different ideas/expectations. You talk about a "solid hedge," but if you really mean a solid hedge, then you probably want something like yew and want to shear them into a hedge.

But if what you mean is a screen that will "fill in" fairly quickly, then Norway spruce may be the answer.

tj suggests that you should plant not just NS, but something else in addition in case some blight comes and kills the NS. But another way to look at this is if you plant other things to complete the screen, you may just increase the chances that some blight or insect problem will cause damage. For example, around here, Douglas fir can do well for a few years, but later on they all seem to get a disease that is proven to kill Doug fir in many areas.

Norway spruce has proven to be disease resistant both here in North America and in Europe, and with a variety or closely related species, all across northern sections of Asia. I will never say "never," but of all the trees you can plant, NS is your best bet for disease/insect resistance. I am not sure where there is anything like the hemlock wooly adelgid that could be imported to infect these trees.

But, as you now understand, when you decide on spacing, you are trading off the desire for a good screen quickly, against giving the trees enough room to develop into nice mature trees over time.

The best answer I can give you is to recommend a double row of trees, spaced somewhere close to what Dax recommends--12 feet, which is a little close, but which can be a good middle ground compromise between the two objectives. That way, if you look straight on to the screen, the distance between the trees is essentially 6 feet, giving some good visual screening. Of course at just the right 45 degree angle, they will not seem so close.

I have just recently planted a screen of Norway spruce trees that is about 1,000 feet long. The trees are spaced about 8 or 9 feet apart in each row, and I have the rows spaced 13 feet apart so they will be far enough apart to create an "alee" effect between them as they grow up.

I am planting a variety of other kinds of trees in front of this screen, including some larch, some fir, and some maples and sweetgum for color--and some willows. I am planting these far enough in front of the screen so the NS will not grow into/over them--about 25 feet minimum. In just a few years I think I will have something really, really beautiful.

If you are concerned about planting something else with the NS and matching growth rates, white pine is your best choice. But it will not provide as dense a screen as the NS, and does not hold its lower branches so well. And it is more subject to breakage. I have gone with NS for the screen itself, and am planting other things in front for variety.

But, because of the genetic diversity in NS, a straight planting of NS will give you trees that differ from each other in interesting ways. NS shows as much variation from individual to individual as any tree I know. I think this is a big plus!

--Spruce


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance+

Oh, I should have mentioned. I am planning to thin out my screen, so that is the reason for the 8 or 9 foot spacing. Eventually the spacing should be about 18 feet--less where two really great trees grow next to each other.

I also have used four different seed sources for the main planting, and two more different ones for replacements for trees lost to critters, etc. This way I should get maximum variety.

--Spruce


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

That's tight Spruce-- You remind me of a little kid out there enjoying his days as an old man... Carry them jugs fella.

Also, I bought a tank sprayer used normally,for pesticides, and it holds 25 gallons of water. Hook it up to a garden tractor and drive that little thing around to your hearts content. I'm sure you've thought of that though.

See ya,

-D


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting e

Hey Spruce,

This may seem or sound a little ridiculous at first but all you need is a little cargo trailor to pull behind your covered truck and you could fill three of these tanks and possibly use the same cargo trailor to pull behind a tractor mower and simply drive your mower with a wand in yer hand...

See ya,

DAx


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Dax:

Yeah, i'm just a little puppy all over again. But with that equipment, what would I do for exercise to keep me in the full flower of my puppyhood?

--Spruce


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

My NS screeen is planted 12-14' on center, in three rows. I didn't line them up exactly in a straight line, in an attempt to make it look a bit more "natural". I figure I will always have the option of cutting out the middle row in the future. There is a single line NS screen in my neighborhood with only a western exposure that was planted around 8' on center, that's about 30 years old. It looked magnificant for a period of about the past 10 years. But now the lower branches are dying and you can see the house behind it. A sad situation considering the beauty of the rest of the tree.


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

You'd drink beer Spruce and howl at the moon!

Dax


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

gnomeabram:

Obviously there is no hard fast rule about spacing NS trees for a screen. If the issue is just getting a screen, and not having the individual trees in the screen develop their full potential, and express their variety of form and texture, you could plant them as close as you want and they will make a good screen.

But NS trees as they become mature can be spaced as much as 25 feet apart, even more, and still be close enough for the lower branches to grow into each other and make a solid screen. But this could take 30 years or more at that spacing. But, for the lower branches to persist, they should get some sun.

You say the lower branches of the trees in a screen near you died? Were these branches getting some sun? How much? NS are as disease free as any tree I know, but in some more moist climates there is a fungal disease that can kill lower branches, and eventually entire trees--cytospora.

It is my experience that this is very easy to control. If you see a branch that is dying when others near it are healthy, then I would suspect this disease is starting. Cut off the infected branch right at the trunk and dispose of it carefully. If you touch the canker with the saw, don't use it again until you disinfect it. You can "Google" this and learn all about it.

I had this cytospora canker appear on 6 or 10 of my NS trees (I have thousands) a number of years ago. I carefully pruned off all the infected branches--one tree was killed before I knew what it was and started control--and it has never come back. So this disease is present in the Western MD mountains--a cool, humid climate--but is not really a problem. I have not seen it here in northern VA, where it is hotter, and muich drier.

--Spruce


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Gnome - Thank you for the thoughts on the trees near you. I'm encouraged that the NS screen near you looked nice for so long. At least now I know what to do if our trees become infected...

Spruce - You're right, I want a screen, not a hedge. Something to reduce noise, lights and sight of the growing industrial site next door to our 55 acre farm. Over the past couple of weeks I've been reading all of your old posts on the merits of the NS,and that's what convinced me to go this way. Do you have any photos of your trees? OK, maybe this is like asking a parent if they happen to have any photos of their children:.)

I think based on what I've read today that I will stick with all NS for two staggered rows of conifers. And possibly a third row of deciduous... Our boundary line is about 1000' I'm trying to think of most effective way of mass planting without going with seedlings. I know this is most cost effective, however, we're AARP members now, so we need to look for plants that are larger to start with.

We're about 2 hrs. west of Indiana, PA, so I'm wondering if it's worth a trip to Musser's or Carino's to load up a trailer or truck with larger transplants.

I did just order 475 mixed varieties of seedlings from our local game commission at such low cost it was unbelievable ...3-yr. olds... So it's gonna be a busy spring....But I don't want to count on the seedlings to do the heavy lifting for this boundary. I would like a nice green curtain to close as quickly as possible.

Anyone else have any other photos of NS screens?

Thanks so much for all the great input.


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Moissy-

Someone mentioned using something other than the Norway Spruce. One that I would recommend would be the Jack Pine, AKA Scrub Pine. They thrive on neglect and can withstand deer rubbing. The deer have killed or seriously wounded many White Pines and Norway Spruce on my property over the years. My neighbor told me about Jack Pines last year so I decided to try them out. He has several hundred on his property, and swears that that they are impossible to kill. I located an online dealer in Michigan and ordered I believe 50 and they arrived in late Oct. They can be ordered up to a 5-6 foot range, so you will have a nice sized tree. We had a miserably cold winter (-32 actual in what is supposed to be a zone 6). I went out earlier this week, and all but 3 are still alive.

Just a thought, when you mentioned the deer as a possible problem, that came to mind as a good possibility. The online dealer is Cold Stream Farm in Free Soil, Mi.

Eliot

Here is a link that might be useful: Cold Stream Farm


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Moissy:

I will, one of these days, get a digital camera and post pictures. The screen I planted last year is nothing to see yet. The spruce tree groves at my timberland in the mountains of western MD are something to see and I should post pictures.

Anyway, I think it may be too expensive to have someone come and plant 3 or 4 foot trees, but then I don't know what your resources are. Here in Winchester last year they built a new industrial park and planted a fairly long line of NS for a screen--on the lower part of Welltown Road, if anyone is interested in looking. This planting was done very, very well, and all the trees survived. I don't know if they were watered or not. Before I planted my own screen, I called several places and got prices. I think one place quoted me $50 per tree, but it might have been $75. If you can find someone who can give you a good price and who can do it right, that can be the best way to go.

But, you will save only about 3 or 4 years over getting large sized "transplants" from places like Musser Forests, Carino Nurseries, and/or Van's Pines, all of which have their offerings posted on the web. All of these places produce good stock and I ordered some from all three last year to mix up the seed sources. I have seen the Musser trees after they have grown up a bit, and they seem to be of a very good strain. I can't report on the others specifically.

But, planting the larger sized bareroot transplants--24 to 36" or so--requires a lot more work planting than seedlings. If you can hire some one to dig the holes--and do them right--and you do the planting very carefully to get the roots deep and spread out, the work may not be too much. I planted 425 trees last spring (not all of them for my screen), and I worked almost every day for 35 days--about 4 hours per day.

Once NS trees get about 4 1/2 feet tall, they can grow very fast and provide some screening in another 4 years or so. I am 70 and don't hesitate to plant little trees. My father lived to be 98, and could still do physical work well into his 90's. So, the sands of time are running, but they may take longer to run out than we may think.

--Spruce


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Eliot - Thanks for the link to Cold Stream. I'll take a look.
Spruce - Thanks for the encouragement. I think I'll be crawling along with a tube of Ben Gay alongside the planting bar in a few weeks. But worth it!
Moissy


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Well worth it, I suppose, in the long and short of things.

Moisy, you might check with Treehaven Evergreen Nursery for large bareroot or large plugs. This guy's got some great resources.

Have a good time with your task. This Don's a real nice fella, the owner. Google his #; His website has been shut off.

Wishing you the best,

Dax


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

Spruceman:

The screen in question has trees spaced only about 8 feet apart, and was so incredibly dense that no light was getting past the first layer of branches or so. Also, it only had a western exposure because the screen was planted right against a decidious woods which allowed no light in on the east side. The result was a few good years of screening followed by all of the inside lower branches dying due to lack of light. The outside (west facing) branches are still alive but not thick enough to block the view. I don't think any disease was involved in what happened. Seeing that helped convince me to keep the spacing of my NS screen at 12-14 feet and staggered three-deep.


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

If NS trees are planted so that within a few years the branches begin growing into each other, will that in any way begin to slow down the vertical growth? While I want the screen to fill in quickly, I would like the growth to be as tall as possible.


 o
RE: Norway Spruce Screen Planting Distance

gnomeabram:

This issue of lower branch retention interests me, and it may be complex and depend on a number of factors. Generally, any NS branch that gets half, or maybe even a third of a day's sun should not die. And, in a dense stand of hardwood trees, the most dense shade producing maples or beech perhaps excepted, a NS tree should retain most of its lower branches for many years, although the foliage will be thinner, depending on the amount of light they receive, among other factors. I have a good number of NS trees growing among hardwood trees, and they all have their lower branches intact. But, eventually, as these trees growing in a hardwood stand age, they will lose their lower branches, but it will take 40 or more years for this to happen.

Factors that could affect the loss of lower branches could include genetic strain of NS and the fertility of the soil. I don't have very much specific information about the need for magnesium, but I suspect that those areas where NS doesn't grow as well as others, there could be a magnesium deficiency. I read one study that said that for the best NS growth, there should be 75 kg of magnesium per hectare. I am just guessing about the specific effects of any magnesium deficiency, but when I have any doubts, I add some high mag lime around my NS trees.

I am sure there could be other fertility issues, but this one may affect trees that are in otherwise fertile soil where one might not suspect any deficiency.

But I do think your idea about having wider spacing giving more opportunity for sunlight to reach the lower branches is correct--you could draw out the shapes of the trees and see geometrically how this could work. In addition, the wider spacing would avoid so many dead branches appearing between the closely spaced trees.

Moissy:

Having the NS trees close together will, if anything cause them to grow taller. If they become really overcrowded, height growth, and the overall health of the trees will be reduced. But this is unlikely to happen with a double row planted as a screen where there will always be good light on at least one side.

But, individual NS trees will grow at different rates. Earlier I talked about how I love the variety in any planting of NS trees--well, a part of that variation from tree to tree is a variation in growth rates. Any screen that is planted with the trees fairly close, such as 8 X 8, will have some trees very much outgrown and eventually overtopped by others. Those trees outgrown by their neighbors will have their growth rates reduced even more by the crowding and eventual overtopping.

In my own screen, as I see some trees growing more weakly than others, I will remove them, unless they have some especially attractive foliage or weeping habit. If I see things like those, I may thin out a faster growing tree to favor a more beautifully growing one. The main reason I planted 8 X 8 is to have extra trees and more chances to get some really outstanding ones. I dont see the issue of having to thin them out later as any problem. Work like that can be done just one tree at a time, and if at some point I cant do the work myself, I will hire some one to do it for me. Anyway, I cant live without a lot of exercise, so I relish it, and as need be, I pace myself.

--Spruce


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Conifers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here