Correct Leyland Cypress spacing is critical. Target height determines spacing distance. How tall do you need them to grow? If a 14′ row of Leyland Cypress trees will provide the privacy screen you desire, be sure and “TOP” them when they reach that height. Actually, you must let them grow a foot or so taller than the desired height, then just clip off the main trunk, or central leader.

On evergreen trees, they will be finished growing tall, and spend all their energy thickening out. More height above what you need is a disadvantage for several reasons. The first is that if the trees need to be sprayed for Bagworms at some point, and they are taller than they need to be, it will be more difficult.

A second disadvantage is during stress times, like a drought summer, or winter, the tree has to “decide” whether to send the moisture it does have to the upper limbs and truck or the lower limbs, it will always send the moisture to the top growth areas and starve out the lower limbs. Many people say their row of Leyland Cypress was doing fine, then “all of a sudden” this year they started showing brown on the lower needles. This is because the height reached the point relative to spacing that result in stress.

The “rule of fours” is that you space trees so that the target height is no more than 4 times the spacing between the trunks. Example: You need a 20′ tall row to block your neighbor’s house or windows, you could space as close as 5′ on center. That is provided you will follow through, and when they reach 21 or 22′ tall, top them at 20′ height. That means each tree will get the moisture from a 5′ diameter ground area without competition from the tree beside it.

Another advantage is there will be enough room for a strong 5′ diameter root system to secure a 20′ tall tree against the wind. The “zig zag” pattern is a super solution if you can surrender some “width” of your property for the privacy screen. Let’s take another example; a 30′ tall privacy screen.

For example to plant a single file row, you will space 8′ on center, 4 times 8′ spacing = 32′ max target height. If choosing to start with ten’ tall Leyland Cypress trees, they will be 4′ wide at planting time. That will leave them with 4′ of air in between each tree and waiting a long time to close together.

If you plant two parallel rows, with each at 8′ on center, but staggered there will appear to be a tree every 4′ you will have closure much quicker, yet still have the trees spaced for strength and low stress. In this case the first row should be 4′ from the property line, and the second row should be 8′ from the first.

If the planting site is tight on space, you could make the second row 6′ back from the first row. One note is that the appearance of a tree every 4′ is only when you are exactly perpendicular to the row. Also remember a ten foot Leyland Cypress tree may be 4 foot wide at its widest point, but also they get skinnier as they get tall.

In this situation, you still need the 8′ spacing based on the rule of fours, and the” zig zag” pattern will get you closure much sooner than a straight line row. If they decided on 12 foot trees, they would be 5′ wide at the widest point closure would come much quicker.

Trees should be spaced so the target height needed is no more than 4 times the distance between the trunks. If you need a 20′ tall row to block your neighbor’s house or windows, you could space as close as 5′ on center. That is provided you will follow through, and when they reach 21 or 22 feet tall, top them back to 20 foot height.

Two advantages are that: Each tree will receive the moisture from a 5′ diameter ground area without competition from the tree beside it. Another benefit is a strong 5 foot diameter root system can secure a 20′ tall tree against the wind.

The “zig-zag” pattern is a super solution if you can surrender some “width” of your property for the privacy screen. For example, someone needs a 30 feet tall privacy screen. If they use the rule of 4’s, and plant a single file row, they should space at 8′ on center, 4 times 8′ spacing = 32′ max target height. If you choose to start with ten foot Leyland Cypress trees, they will be 4′ wide at planting time. That spacing will leave them with 4 feet of gap between each tree would take a long time to close together.

If you plant two parallel rows, each at 8 foot on center, but staggered so there will appear to be a tree every 4 foot you will have closure much quicker, yet still have the trees spaced for low moisture stress and strength. For this example the first row should be 4 feet from the property line, and the second row should be 8 feet from the first. If tight on space, you could make the second row 6′ back from the first row. One note is that the appearance of a tree every 4′ is only when you are exactly perpendicular to the row. Remember a ten foot Leyland Cypress tree might be 4 feet wide at its widest point, but also they get much thinner towards the tip. In this situation, you still need the 8′ spacing based on the rule of fours, and the “zig zag” pattern will get you closure much sooner than a straight line row. If they decided on 12 foot trees, they would be 5′ wide at the widest point closure would come much quicker. My customers have been temped to let them grow because when they reach the target height, they will look great. That is the precise time to top them, once they get distressed and shed their lower needles nothing will make them green back up. Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.