Looking to add privacy to your backyard? Well, there’s nothing like cedar hedges to do so! Not only will this versatile, low-maintenance evergreen add beauty and colour to your landscape year-round, but it will also reduce noise and act as a protection against cold winds.
Even though cedar trees are easy to maintain and quite resistant to insects and diseases, some basic maintenance is needed to get thick, healthy, and vibrant hedging. Here is all you need to know about planting, watering, fertilizing, and trimming cedar trees.
When to Plant a Cedar Hedge
Planting a cedar hedge can be done any time between May and October as long as you avoid periods of intense heat and drought. However, you should consider planting your cedar trees in the spring or fall. In the spring, cedars are just out of the dormant season, so the transplantation won’t put much stress on them. In the fall, the rain will take care of the watering for you, and the cool nights will keep the soil from drying up as quickly as in the summer.
How to Plant Cedar Trees
- Remove a strip of the grass (60 cm wide).
- Dig a trench (60 cm wide and 45 cm deep).
- Mix the soil dug out of the trench with a Plant Starter Fertilizer (rich in phosphorus), one-third of compost, and a ready-to-use mix like Fafard’s 3/1 TREE & SHRUB Planting Mix.
- Put the cedars in, leaving a 60–90 cm space between the trees (root collar must be at ground level and must not dry out).
- Fill in with the amended soil (pack the soil around the roots to get rid of any air pockets).
- Water generously.
- Keep the soil moist, not soaked, for 3 to 4 weeks.
Cedar Hedge Maintenance
Once in the ground, you need to provide basic care to your cedar trees to keep them green and healthy!
Watering a Cedar Hedge
Watering is the key to success, especially in the first year of your hedge. Once they put down roots, your cedar trees can go a week without rain. However, if it goes longer than that, you should take the matters into your own hands. Remember that a good rain counts as watering.
To make sure they never dry out, install a soaker hose over the root balls of your cedars and water them for one hour once a week. This will allow water to penetrate the soil and get to the roots. Also, remember that watering in the evening or out of the sun will lower the risks of scorching the foliage.
Fertilizing a Cedar Hedge
After the first year, use a fertilizer for cedar trees or evergreens like Fafard’s Natural Fertilizer for TREES & SHRUBS. This fertilizer, rich in nitrogen and potassium, will strengthen your cedars and help them grow thick, green foliage. Fertilize three times a year, in mid-April, mid-May, and mid-June. Do not apply any cedar fertilizer after mid-July as this can stimulate new growth late in the season, and the new growth will be more likely to suffer from winter damage.
Trimming a Cedar Hedge
To keep your cedar hedge thick and healthy, you should trim it every year. In Quebec, the best time to trim is between the end of June and the end of July, depending on the climate in your region. At this point in the season, the cedars have almost completed their annual growth, so the new light-green leaves are easy to identify. The idea is to prune only this new growth by about 5 to 7.5 cm and not to touch the old wood, as the branches could remain bare.
If you missed this window, it’s still possible to trim your cedar hedges from August to mid-September, but it will be trickier to figure out how far you can trim without touching the old wood, as the new growth will already have lost its distinctive color. Healing is also faster in the spring than in the fall.
Remember that whenever trimming cedar hedges, you should make sure that the base of the tree is wider than the top. This pyramidal shape will allow the sun to reach the lower part of the tree which will help prevent the hedge from thinning at the bottom.
Winter Protection for Cedar Trees
Healthy cedars can usually withstand our harsh winters easily. However, they can use some winter protection if they are exposed to:
- Strong winds
- Snow from snowblowers and snowplows
- Deicing salts
You can use protective nets to tighten the branches together to protect them from strong winds and heavy snow, and you can use rigid fencing and geotextile to protect the foliage from deicing salts (make sure that the geotextile does not touch the foliage; otherwise, deicing salts may get through and burn the foliage).
Put up the protections as late as possible in the fall before the first snow and remove them early in the spring when freezing weather has passed. You want to avoid overheating under the protections.
Now that you know everything there is to know about how to care for your cedar hedges (and where to get the best soil and fertilizer for cedar trees), you will surely get the healthiest, fullest, and greenest ones in the neighbourhood.