The Thuja Green Giant is one of the most popular and easy-to-grow evergreen species for creating a natural privacy screen. This amazing coniferous tree is not only popular for its fast growth rate and hardy nature, but also for how large and adaptable it is to climate and soil types. For these reasons, this highly attractive arborvitae has quickly beat out the once preferred Leyland Cypress as the number one choice for creating living fences.
Benefits of Creating a Thuja Green Giant Privacy Screen
There are many benefits to using the Thuja Green Giant as a privacy screen. With potential growth rates of 3 to 5 feet per year, its ability to adapt to most soil types, and its tolerance to shade and drought, the Green Giant is a low-maintenance species that is fast to grow and easy to maintain, even for the novice gardener.
As one of the fastest-growing trees for privacy, the Thuja Green Giant can grow up to 60 feet tall under the right conditions. This provides optimal privacy coverage for any home or garden. Aside from providing privacy, this amazing arborvitae inherently has the ability to block wind and snow drifts. This is a much-welcomed benefit for people who live in areas prone to strong winds and above-average snowfall.
How to Create a Privacy Screen
Step 1: Choosing the Perfect Thuja Variety
Green Giant - Which arborvitae is best for privacy? Look no further than the Thuja Green Giant. This hybrid thuja variety originates from crossing the Thuja standishii, aka the Japanese Arborvitae, and the Thuja plicata, aka the Western Red Cedar, and is one of the hardiest, most adaptable, and fast-growing arborvitae available today. Reaching up to 60 feet in height and 15 feet wide at maturity, it’s perfect for creating natural fencing on larger plots of land or where space constraints aren’t an issue. Is a Thuja Green Giant too large for your space? No problem, here are some other great Thuja privacy tree options to consider:
Junior Giant - If you’re looking for a smaller version of the Thuja Green Giant, the Junior Giant doesn’t disappoint. This species has all of the same benefits of the Green Giant, but only grows to be 15-20 feet high and 3-4 feet wide at maturity, and is perfect for smaller yards.
Baby Giant - Don’t let the name fool you, the Baby Giant is anything but small, but if you are working with a smaller space, this could be perfect for you, as it only grows to be 10-15 feet high and a girthy 5-6 feet wide at maturity.
Emerald Green - If you are looking for a medium size Thuja tree that is very cold hardy, the Emerald Green is also a great option. It’s definitely not as fast-growing as the Green Giant, Junior Giant, or Baby Giant, but it’s beautifully dense and thrives in both full sun and partial shade. This variety grows to be a modest 10-15 feet high and 3-4 feet wide at maturity.
Step 2: Choosing Your Planting Location
Light and Shade Considerations
As a general rule, your Thuja Green Giant will do the best in full sun. However, because most Thuja varieties have adapted to living in forests under larger trees, most Thuja trees, including the Green Giant, tolerate partial shade quite well, up to 50% of the day. Generally speaking, the warmer the climate, the more shade it can tolerate. The cooler the climate, the more sun it should have to thrive.
Soil Types and Adaptability
While Thuja trees are very tolerant of most types of soil, one thing that is very important is that the soil is well-draining. Young Thuja Green Giants, and most Thuja varieties for that matter, need an adequate supply of water while they are getting established. However, at the same time, you don’t want your plants constantly sitting in water, as that will encourage root rot and will stunt their growth.
Thuja tree varieties grow well in soils with varying pH levels. However, a good rule of thumb is to add organic material to the soil when planting, to encourage water retention. Then it should be added each year as a mulch to ensure dense growth in any soil type. This is particularly important if you have heavy, clay soil.
Step 3: Planting Your Thuja Green Giant Privacy Screen
Thuja Green Giant Hedge Spacing
Before you start planting, you’ll want to decide which method you want to use to create your privacy screen. The two most common methods are planting in a traditional straight hedgerow, and the other is planting diagonally, staggering them as you go. Why is this so important? It’s important because the method you choose will ultimately determine how many trees you need, as well as how close you can plant your Thuja Green Giants in proximity to one another. If you plant your trees too far apart, they may never grow to the point that they will meet and form the mass of trees you need for privacy fencing. Likewise, if you plant them too close together, they simply won’t thrive or will become stunted.
Here are some general recommendations to follow:
As a general rule, smaller and shorter Thuja varieties can be spaced closer together than taller and more vigorous trees, such as the Green Giant. Shorter hedges, such as those that are 8-10 feet tall, should be planted about 3-4 feet apart. Larger trees such as The Thuja Green Giant should be planted 5-6 feet apart. *Note: If you are planting near a building or wall, make sure to allow at least 10-15 feet to protect the foundation. Because of its sheer size, it’s really not recommended that you plant a Green Giant near buildings, power lines, or other structures.
This method provides for a quicker and more densely packed screen than planting in a straight row. It involves making a double row, with plants growing in the ground diagonally to one another. This method allows you to use less trees than planting in a straight line. The rule of thumb here is to space your plants 8-10 feet apart horizontally with around a 4-6 foot gap between the two rows.
*The same note applies to planting near a building or fence.
Seasonal Thuja Green Giant Care
One of the great things about Thuja trees is that they don’t require much maintenance, and are relatively disease free. While we wouldn’t say it’s a plant-it-and-forget-it situation, it really doesn’t need much along the lines of maintenance once it’s well-established. This will take roughly a year, depending on the conditions where you live. Pruning is also not a necessity for this tree, however, if you choose to do so, it is well tolerated.
Here are some of our best Green Giant care recommendations for each season of the year:
Spring Care Recommendations
Spring is not only the best time of the year to plant the Thuja Green Giant, but it is also the best time of the year to prune established trees, if you choose to do so. One important note about pruning is that Thuja trees don’t sprout new leaves from bare branches like deciduous trees do. So, you want to be mindful that you don’t over-prune and leave bare branches, as the leaves simply won’t regrow, and that’s not a good look.
Adding mulch in the spring is also a good practice, and when the plants are young, it’s also a good idea to use a liquid fertilizer (mature plants can use granular). When shopping for a fertilizer, look for one that is specifically designed for evergreens, as it will have a higher nitrogen content and encourage them to grow more vigorously.
Summer Care Recommendations
As a general rule, your Thuja Green Giant won’t need too much maintenance, if any, during the summer months. If you live in an area that is dry or prone to drought, you may need to do some extra watering for young plants, as they need a constant intake of water to get established. If you didn’t prune your trees in the spring, summer is also a good time to do it, as long as it’s not too hot and dry.
Fall Care Recommendations
If you didn’t get around to planting your Green Giant tree in the spring, fall is the next best season to do so. Young trees will get established easier when the weather is cool and not too hot or too cold. For already established trees, early to mid-fall is a great time for pruning.
Giving your trees a little extra water in late fall, just before the ground freezes, will help them along quite significantly. This is particularly true for trees that aren’t yet established. When the ground freezes, it makes it harder for even the most established trees to suck up groundwater, so this is particularly important for young trees with shallow roots that might be hindered by frozen ground.
Lastly, if you didn’t add fertilizer in the spring, you can always add a winterizing fertilizer in the fall. This will make your trees more resilient and resistant to upcoming cold winter temperatures.
Winter Care Recommendations
If you have young Thuja Green Giant trees and live in a cold and snowy winter climate, you should take some extra precautions and care to help them along during their first winter. If your plants are exposed to strong northerly winds, adhering burlap or a light screen to posts placed in front of the trees, will help shelter them from wind damage. Keep in mind that you don’t want to lay the screen on the plant, or you risk it freezing to it. Therefore, leaving about a foot of space between the post and the plant will likely provide the best results.
As far as snow is concerned, be sure that you don’t allow it to pile up on the plant or push it over. Simply move heavy snow piles promptly, before they have a chance to freeze or become a solid mass due to the rapid thawing and refreezing that often happens in winter cycles.
Planting your Thuja Green Giant privacy screen can offer you protection from wind and unwanted views year around. Plant them in your front yard to create a wall between you and your neighbor. Plant them in the backyard for a natural fence. Whatever you choose to do, just provide minimal care and these beauties will thrive. Shop our online plant nursery and privacy tree collection for more privacy screen options.