People often complain that conifers grow too fast to keep growth well in check. In fact, if you have little time to invest in maintenance, most conifers are not the best choice. On the other hand, conifers will usually give you a tall hedge in a short period of time. But not all conifers grow at the same rate. Here you will get the answer to the question: how fast do conifers grow? So you will quickly know which conifers fit your garden and whether you can maintain your hedge as required for the plant.
The advantages and disadvantages of a fast-growing conifer hedge.
Is it a problem that conifers grow fast? That depends on your own preferences. If you don’t want to wait long until your hedge is tall enough, there’s no better choice than a fast-growing conifer. You may have to prune several times a year, but the result is always a slender, stylish hedge that beautifies your garden more than a garden wall or fence made of wood or metal. If your conifer hedge bears fruit, birds in the area will also benefit.
However, it will be difficult if you don’t have time to trim the hedge regularly at all. Many conifers will not sprout on old wood. Therefore, the fastest growing conifers should be pruned three to four times a year. If you skip pruning a few times, you will not be able to trim the hedge back into shape, as this will result in irreparable bare and brown spots in the hedge. Fortunately, this problem does not occur with every conifer hedge. Besides, not every hedge grows so fast that it would be a problem not to cut for two months.
Fast growing conifers
There is one conifer that grows very quickly: the Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii). These conifers grow up to a meter a year under ideal conditions. There are few evergreen hedge plants that grow so fast. Even the very fast growing ivy does not manage to do this. The fast growth is one reason why Leyland cypress is so popular. In fact, in many countries it is by far the best-selling hedge plant. To grow a hedge to head height, Leyland cypresses only need two to three years.
However, there are two drawbacks to this rapid growth. Leyland cypresses need to be pruned at least three to four times a year. This is because you cannot do a radical rejuvenation pruning when they have grown too tall or too wide. In addition, although Leyland cypresses grow quickly in height, they will not be dense enough to function as a privacy hedge. You can prevent this by simply buying a prefabricated hedge, which of course costs a little more to purchase. Want a conifer hedge that is opaque when grown to head height? Then plant a slower growing conifer.
Conifers with average growth rate
An excellent alternative to Leyland cypress is mock cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). With an annual growth rate of about 30 inches, you’ll have to wait a little longer for this conifer hedge to grow tall enough to shield your garden from prying eyes of neighbors and passersby. Two cuts between March and September are more than sufficient. In addition, the mock cypress has different colors than Leyland cypress. Both species are available in yellow, but there is also a blue mock cypress with elegant blue-green foliage.
Thuja, also known as the Tree of Life, has a slightly different appearance than cypresses, but its needles are just as scale-like. Thuja is an ideal hedge plant. However, the foliage of young Thuja plants is not yet very scale-like and is more like needles. Thuja grows about 30 centimeters a year. Also, a thuja hedge can be kept quite narrow, so it will fit in a small garden. Do not cut thuja back so far that there are no green branches left. The Thuja ‘Brabant’ and Thuja ‘Emerald’ are popular in our gardens, but cultivars of the Giant Lifetree (Thuja plicata) are also very attractive.
Low growing conifers
Among the slow-growing conifers is one of the most popular hedge plants: yew. For many garden owners, a typical conifer hedge consists of yews. But their growth is very different from other conifers. The yew grows only 15 to 20 centimeters a year. Only boxwood grows even slower, but that is a deciduous tree. For a high conifer hedge, this speed of growth may be a disadvantage, but there are yew ready hedges that are already two meters high. Yew trees, in fact, can grow very tall. And since they also grow very densely, a tall yew hedge is an ideal privacy hedge.
Another advantage of yew is that it is easy to maintain. Slow growth also means less frequent pruning. Once a year is already enough, and two cuts a year give a particularly dense and compact result. In addition, yew is one of the few conifers that forms buds on old wood. This means that you can rejuvenate a yew hedge if it grows too large. The sun will make the buds sprout and your yew hedge will continue to grow without getting bare branches or spots.