How many trees does it take to build a hedge?
Ideally, Leylandii need to be planted at three feet apart, especially if you’re planning a tall hedge. You need to measure the length of the planned hedge and work it out from there. If you want that hedge fast, then don’t worry so much about height and plant the trees two feet apart to develop a thicker barrier. You may need to keep the tops trimmed, though, as this will encourage the higher parts of the tree to spread out more.
Is there a particular time of year I need to plant my Leylandii?
If you buy pot-grown Leyland cypress trees from The Tree Center or a similar supplier you can plant them whenever you like. Planting them in the winter means they’ll be more established by the growing season in spring and summer so you won’t have to water them so much. However, you should watch for signs of dryness if there’s a heat wave. If you plant them during the growing season, you’ll need to water them carefully until winter sets in.
I’ve heard people in the UK really hate these trees – is there a problem?
The UK’s love-hate relationship with the Leylandii is more to do with neighbourly disputes and the fact that these trees do grow high and can block out light. This can be a problem in a row of houses, but if you have a decent-sized yard, you should be OK.
The Leyland cypress is actually very beneficial to people and animals. They offer year-long shelter and food to small animals, birds and insects. They also help humans by filtering out particulate pollution from the air. Particulates are implicated in millions of serious ailments and extra deaths each year and the dense foliage of the Leylandii is better at capturing them than flat deciduous leaves.
I’ve just planted a row of Leylandii; how long will they stand for?
The Leylandii is a relatively new variety of tree, so no-one knows yet! We do know, however, that the first trees were planted in the late 19th century and they’re still thriving…
Do I need to trim my Leylandii hedge?
Yes, but only once a year, really. If you trim more often than that, your trees won’t be able to recover and grow enough to see the winter through. Too much trimming also means they are more susceptible to dry summers and insect attacks. The late spring or the early summer is the best time for a trim.
I only have a narrow garden; can I keep a narrower hedge?
If you’re happy to trim your hedge once a year from the very start, you can keep it as narrow as 18 inches. You do need to do this from its first year, though, or you’ll risk damaging a larger tree.
What about cutting the tops of the trees?
You should wait until the tops of the trees are six or so inches below their eventual height before you trim them so that they branch out more to fill in the top of the hedge. This sort of trimming can be done at any time of year.