May 2016

Looking for a Natural Hedge? The Emerald Green Arborvitae may be the time tested answer you’re looking for.
Tips on planting and caring for this timeless beauty. 
(Blog 5/4/16)

Arborvitae are a popular choice for landscapes in our area. Many varieties, such as the ever popular Emerald Green Arborvitae, (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'), are native to the north eastern United States, and do very well in our region. They are evergreen and tolerate the heat and humidity of our summer months. They can grow up to 25 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter.

We most frequently see these utilized as a tall hedge or screen, but can also be placed within the landscape often in clusters. As beautiful and hardy as the Emerald Green Arborvitae is, we frequently receive questions about how to best care for these plants. It can be very upsetting to plant a beautiful line of trees to see one plant begin to brown and worry that it will be difficult to find a replacement that will match the trees that are currently in place. So, we have compiled a list of helpful tips when you are considering the Arborvitae and a few possibilities of what could be going on if your plant shows signs of trouble.

  • WHERE TO PLANT. The Emerald Green Arborvitae does well in full sun, can tolerate partial shade, but doesn’t fare well in full shade. If the plant lacks proper sunlight, it will begin to turn brown and eventually die. Well drained soil is best for planting.

  • PLANTING TIPS. We typically recommend leaving the burlap ball in place on these trees. Dig the hole wide not deep. Be sure not to bury the tree too deep, you should be able to see the root flare, or the spot where the trunk beings to flare out. Surround the plant with native soil, but don’t pack it too tightly. At the same time, ensure there are no air pockets. It may be necessary to check this in several weeks after the soil has settled also.

  • NOT SO STRAIGHT. Be sure not to crowd the trees. It’s better to stagger the Arborvitae. It gives your plants room to grow and in the off chance that you lose one, it will not be as obvious when you replace it. Usually 2 to 3 feet apart will do the trick.

  • WATER. WATER. WATER. When planting, it’s very important to water regularly the first year that the plant is in the ground, and especially during growing season. Drip hoses or irrigation are your best option, otherwise, be sure to give the tree a steady drip for 24 hours at the tree’s base after planting and water every 4 days on any week you do not receive rainfall.

  • Pruning can be done to the sides of the tree, but should be done sparingly.

  • Deer do like Arborvitae, so be sure to group with deer resistant plants, or in areas where deer are less likely to be an issue.

  • Fertilize in early spring or mid-fall after the summer heat has left. It’s best to refrain from fertilizing the tree right after planting.

If you notice your Arborvitae turning brown, check for the following possible conditions to help resolve the problem:

  • If the entire tree is turning brown, it could mean you are giving the tree to much or too little water. Be sure the soil is making contact with the root ball on a newly planted tree.

  • If you see sections of brown areas that start to spread, check for insects or disease. Check the trunk for signs of small holes or sawdust caused by boring insects.

  • Fungal disease may also be the culprit and can be very difficult to identify. Check for black pepper-like specs on the limbs or open spots on the bark called cankers.

For more information about the Emerald Green Arborvitae and other varieties of Arborvitae that would work well in your landscape, contact Chesterfield Valley Nursery at 636-532-9307 or email us at