Tending a new Cedar Hedge


We have planted 5 ft tall Emerald Cedars along our property edge in a part sun/shade well drained location. How and with what will I fertilize? What should we do around the bottoms? Should we leave the soil uncovered to a certain diameter? plant grass back in? Place flat rocks? Thank you



Thank you for your questions to Toronto Master Gardeners.

Since we receive a high volume of inquiries about cedars I suggest you revisit our Ask A Master Gardener page and enter cedar into the Search box.  You will find a great deal of advice on the topic of cedars.  My answer borrows heavily from two of the answers posted there: http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/landscaping-with-cedars/ AND http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/pruning-and-fertilizing-cedar-hedge/

Thinking back to when you planted the cedars, I hope that you

  • Dug a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and to the depth of the root ball
  • Filled the bottom with the garden soil and triple mix
  • Stood your cedars upright in the hole and then added in the remainder of the soil/triple mix
  • Stepped firmly on the soil to make it connect with the roots of the new trees
  • Watered thoroughly and continued to water your cedars until freeze up in late fall.
  • Added natural (undyed) mulch around the base of your new plants without touching the trunks

Every year trees and perennials in the garden will benefit from the addition of a layer of compost.  There’s no need to till it in.  Worms and other microorganisms will take care of that.  The roots of your cedar need air so please don’t smother them with grass or decorative stones.

If you wish to use commercial fertilizer, use 30-10-10 three times in the growing season (May, June and July). Don’t fertilize in late summer as the hedge needs to prepare to go dormant for the winter. In late fall add slow release nitrogen and phosphorus, which will lend the hedge a boost come spring.

Note that every fall and winter, “fall shed” occurs – the interior foliage of the cedar hedge will turn brown.  It’s getting ready for winter and could lose up to 1/3 of green growth towards its core. To minimize the amount of foliage that drops each year, water thoroughly during periods of drought and before the first frost. Once the hedge is healthy again, “fall shed” should not be very noticeable.

We thank you for your question and hope you will find our website helpful.  Other great resources on cedars can be found in every public library.