We have an 8 x 45 long area we would like to plant evergreens to screen between our driveway and our neighbors. We would really like to keep anything we plant to be about 8 feet at maturity but would be willing to go between 8 and 12 feet max. We don’t want to block out his evening sun or make a wall between the two of us, that is why we would like to stay relatively low. I really want a pyramidal evergreen and not a hedge. I have looked at the Hetzii Columnar juniper, Robusta Green juniper, Cryptomaria Black Dragon, and the Hinoki cypress dwarf or compacta. We really don’t want an arborvitae. Do you know how any of these do in our area and will one of them do better with keeping within our height requirements? The information varies so much on the Internet as far as size. I think all of these get to be 4-6 feet in width. We would like to plant them about 6 feet apart. The area does have mostly clay soil so I am assuming we would have to amend it with sand?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Carol in Kentucky: The Internet is great for research but you have to make sure you are looking at a reputable site. All the evergreens you mentioned are all great choices and they will all do well in Louisville if given adequate growing conditions. As far as amending the soil, you want to avoid using sand since it can actually make the soil more compact. Mr. Natural is a product line that makes great amendments for clay soil. Their complete landscape mix is a mixture of compost as well as Permatill, which is an expanded slate material that helps to break up the clay and improve drainage. All the evergreens you mentioned are sun-lovers and will need full sun to thrive. Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetzii Columnaris’ is a cultivar that is going to be pyramidal in shape. It typically gets to be around 15 feet at maturity but can reach more like 20 feet in 15-20 years so this may be taller than you were hoping for. Juniperus chinensis ‘Robusta Green’ is going to be upright but a bit irregular in habit. It may also be a bit taller than what you were hoping for. It will eventually get 15 feet tall at maturity. It may take several years to grow this tall. Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ is certainly the most unique of the evergreens you are considering. It is pyramidal in growth habit with dark green foliage, nice cones, and is a slow grower. I have not seen any in town that are taller than 6 or 7 feet. Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana gracillis’ is also a slow grower and will reach approximately 6 feet at maturity. As with any new addition to the garden remember that they will need additional moisture to get their roots settled in. Avoid fertilizing for the first year and plant them just as deep and twice as wide as the container they are growing in. Since you are gardening in Louisville I will mention that The Plant Kingdom typically carries these evergreens as well as Mr. Natural products. Sometimes just seeing the evergreens in person is enough to make your decision easier.