Alternatives to Emerald Cedar


Hello, I am located at Scarborough east Toronto, which is around zone 5-6. I want to find one kind of tree alternative to Emerald Cedar against my backyard fence. My backyard is face to west, so the sunlight is enough.
I was planning to plant 10-15 7-8 feet emerald cedar, however, I read some information and find emerald cedar need moist soil conditions and need tons of water in the first year, also will be very hard to survive in the first winter. Toronto’s summer is dry and heat. I don’t have time to water and maintain them. So I am looking for one kind of evergreen tree needs low maintenance and can resistant to dryness and harsh winter, but also grows like emerald cedar. Please give me some advise and recommendations. Thank you


Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about alternatives to Emerald Cedars.

It sounds as if you want some drought-tolerant conifers that will create a hedge or barrier.

For some good choices you might find it helpful to consult “Evergreens Suitable for Hedging: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide”, which recommends several smaller evergreen varieties to consider.

Also see, but keep in mind that American and Canadian gardening zones are different, and that you generally need to add one number from an American zone to arrive at the Canadian equivalent – i.e. US Zone 5 = Canada Zone 6.  Also, not all conifers are suited to all climates, so consider your own growing conditions (including the amount of sun/shade; type of soil; soil moisture and any microclimates in your garden).

No matter what tree you choose in the end, it is vital that it is planted properly.  Even a healthy tree ideally suited to your location, receiving all the TLC you can give it, will suffer and even die if it is incorrectly planted and not cared for post-planting. For more information, please go to Planting a Tree: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide

You may also find our Gardening Guide on mulch useful:

If you do not have time to water, consider adding a drip irrigation or soaker system.  This can be either on top of your soil (covered with mulch if you do not like the look of bare hoses), or buried in the soil at planting time (especially if you will not later be digging into the soil and thus there is no potential for accidental damage to the system post-planting).  These are easily purchased at many gardening supply, hardware or box stores, and you can install one yourself or have it installed for you.

See this previous question and response from our website for more information and some additional suggestions on watering.

We wish you good luck with planting your new trees!