How to Plant a Privacy Hedge
Create a low-maintenance evergreen screen from tall arborvitae shrubs
Q: I want a low-maintenance evergreen privacy hedge. What should I plant? —Gloria Chin, Trumbull, Conn.
Roger Cook replies: Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is a good choice because it doesn't need pruning to keep its full shape from top to bottom, and adapts to a wide range of growing conditions from Zones 2 to 7—including your Zone 6—as long as it has full sun.
To get a sense of privacy right away, select specimens that are at least 6 feet tall, with green foliage and moist root balls. They'll reach 15 feet or more when mature. These trees need to be planted far enough apart so that they'll be touching when full grown; they'll be stunted if put too close together. The spacing depends on the variety you choose. (Find more plants that work as privacy hedges and learn about their proper spacing at Evergreen Privacy Screens.)
In time, as your hedge fills in, you'll have a solid wall of green to enjoy year-round.
Dig a Trench
Measure the height and width of the largest root ball. Then use spray paint to mark out a trench that is two to three times wider and 2 inches shallower than the root ball. Make the trench long enough to space the trees so that they will touch when they reach their mature width—3 to 4 feet apart for these Emerald Greens. As you dig, transfer the soil with a spade shovel onto a tarp.