Pros: Hardy fast growing fragrant privacy barrier evergreen that tolerates weather well
Perhaps you have seen a giant Arborvitae in landscaping. These are known as the Thuja Green Giants Trees and are different than your average arborvitae shrub. Both are evergreen, easy to care for, deer resistant, cold hardy, give privacy, can buy them tall and cheap and can be used as a hedge shrub if that is want you want. The main differences are the survival rate between the two in the heat and the problem with bag worms with your regular arborvitae shrub. The Thuja Green Giants solve your heat and bag worms problem and is quickly becoming a popular tree.
According to the USDA US National Arboretum study since 1967, the Thuja Green Giants will become the outstanding alternative screening-evergreen to the disease prone Leyland Cypress in the south and to the Hemlocks that are dying throughout New England.
About the Thuja Green Giants
The Thuja Green Giant tree is the fastest growing evergreen tree that grows at a rate of 3-5' per year once it adapts. The Green Giant is easy to grow and is good for zones 5-7. It can grow 40-60' tall with a spread of 12-20' in width making this a wonderful privacy fence quickly screening out neighbors or unsightly areas without taking up a lot of yard space. It makes an excellent wind break as well. You can also use this as a distinctive specimen or grow one on each side of an entrance way for a dramatic appearance. The Green Giants are tough trees and do not easily suffer damage from high wind or heavy ice and snow loads unlike your regular arborvitae. These do great in cold climates and are hardy to -25F. They prefer full sun but do well in partial sun unlike your regular arborvitae that does not tolerate full hot sun well. They are drought tolerant as well as disease and insect resistant. They do not have problems with bag worms as your regular arborvitae do.
The Thuja Green Giants are part of the Cupressaceae family which consists of your junipers, cypress, cedars, and redwood trees.
The Thuja Green Giants grow upwards in a pyramidal columnar shape and has a natural uniform appearance with dense rich soft green foliage with fanlike sprays of aromatic foliage that stay soft and thick all year. The foliage may darken or bronze only a little in the winter in some areas. Although they adapt easily in any soil types from sandy loams to heavy clay they prefer deep well drained fertile soil. Their bark is generally a reddish-brown in color and the tree presents oblong cones about 1/2" in length that emerge as green and turn to brown.
Consumers do need to beware that all Thuja Green Giants are not the same. Some nurseries sell newly rooted, Thuja branch cuttings as plants. They're not only delicate, but you'll see very little growth the first year. They have to establish a stronger root system first. Thuja Giants are a hybrid and don't grow from seed. They are started by planting branch cuttings.
Taking Care of your Green Giant
You do not need to prune this shrub unless you want to use it as a hedge and then you would trim it to your desired height.
If your plans are to use them for a privacy barrier, you would need to plant them between 5-6 feet apart for a fast solid green barrier but they will only grow to a height of 20-40' when in a privacy row. Plan accordingly and make sure they have plenty of room to grow tall without interfering with your house or anything these could grow up into since they would become deformed once the spear become bent. The rule of thumb is to plant your trees close together for a short height and far apart for a tall height. If not using for a privacy barrier, you should plant them 10-12' apart.
When your Green Giants are young, make sure your tree gets water during extended dry spells, particularly in the summer months. Drooping branches are a sign of both over or under watering, so take great care of your tree. Also these trees love fertilizer Use only a slow-release fertilizer for the first growing season and do not use stronger fertilizers until your tree becomes more established. Your choices should be either water soluble ( Miracle Gro or equivalent ), or granular ( Holly Tone is excellent ). Other granular types with 6-12-12, or 10-10-10 ratio is acceptable. It is best to fertilize in early spring, and again in mid fall and to avoid feeding during hot summer months, and directly after transplanting.
I have had both the regular dark green arborvitae and the Thuja Green Giant and my preference by far is the Green Giant. The normal dark green arborvitae was so susceptible to hot sun making brown spots on it and heavy snows unless you wrapped them in burlap or breakage from ice storms and problems with insects that we dug them up and never looked back. The Thuja Green Giant was a drastic difference and looked beautiful creating a wonderful privacy area to our house from the roadway when we lived in the western part of the state. They required little to no maintenance and they were already established when we bought the home. They survived an ice storm in 1996 and when it snowed, they looked like Christmas trees. The Thuja Green Giants produce little cones and with the dense green foliage it makes the tree look awesome.
I have seen homes in the neighborhood that have the regular arborvitae that look quite shabby with its brown foliage dying and those that have the Thuja Green Giants that look grand and are lined up in a row creating total privacy from the front to the back of their home. I have also seen a home that have these with the Green Giants all the way across the front of their home by the sidewalk, which makes for privacy but it really did not look good as it took away from the tree by seeing the homeowner wanted the house hidden and it was except for the width of the driveway. But, it was good to see that all were a nice dark dense green and none had any problems with brown foliage.
I would definitely buy the Thuja Green Giants again but never the regular arborvitae. We are still in the planning stages of tearing up our front landscaping in our new home that is mainly grass, way too much grass so these will definitely be brought up in our plans.