Emerald Cedar…Am I destined for failure?


We just dug up interlocking in our backyard. Went way overkill and pulled out all the clay soil and backfilled it with triple mix.

We planted 6 ft Emerald Cedars yesterday. However I feel we planted them too close together (2 feet…some are even closer)

What is the major risk when planting them too close together? Will they grow slower, will they not grow at all? Did I waste money by planting them like that?

My other question is, is it too late to try to fix my error and replant them with more space between?

Thanks for everything you do!


Hello – The spacing of your cedars will depend on your objective for the planting.  Are you looking to create a hedge or privacy screen or are these meant to be individual, specimen trees? Emerald cedars (Thuga occidentalis ‘Smaragd’) will grow to a height of 12-14 feet with a spread of 3-4 feet. If you are after a hedge or privacy screen, you’ll want them planted 2 feet apart – as you have right now. A close distance like this does not impede the growth but ensures a dense wall of foliage. However, hedges do need to be pruned. Try and keep the base wider than the top to allow the sun to reach the sides and lower portions. If the lower areas are too shaded, new growth will be thin and weak in this area. A narrower top also helps to provide protection from a heavy, snow load.

If you are after a row of more individual, specimen trees, then you should plant them 3-4 feet from a wall, fence or the edge of other trees. Planting them some where in between these two spacings, will give you a looser wall of foliage or informal hedge as the cedars continue to grow together.

As the cedars have just been planted, it is not too late to dig them up and replant if you need to.  The root balls should still be intact.  I’m including a link to our gardening guide on hedges for a refresher on planting evergreens and some tips on pruning.