How to Plant Arborvitae Trees
Plant Guide

How to Plant Arborvitae Trees


From the Cypress Family, Arborvitae (Thuja) are evergreen trees or shrubs that are popular for their ease of care, fast growth rate, and attractive pyramidal shape. With the ability to thrive in many regions of the country, almost anyone can grow arborvitae without much difficulty. From natural privacy screens and hedges to decorative garden designs and topiaries, Thuja are one of the most versatile and hardy plants. Their evergreen leaves stay a vibrant emerald green throughout all four seasons and the thick, dense foliage is one of the best solutions for unwanted noise or wind. They require little pruning or maintenance and some varieties are disease and pest resistant. Arborvitae is truly one of nature’s best and most impressive tools for modern day landscaping.

Ground Rules

Arborvitae Tree Lighting Guide


Arborvitae thrives with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Arborvitae Tree Watering Guide


After planting, water the tree two times a week for the first 60 days of establishment.

Arborvitae Tree Soil Guide


Thuja are adaptable plants but prefer moist, well draining soil.

Arborvitae Tree Food Guide


After planting, we recommend applying a slow-release fertilizer, such as Espoma Holly-tone.

Arborvitae Tree Temperature Guide


Thrives in heat and humidity of the south, and tolerates dry spells when established.

Arborvitae Tree Toxicity Guide


Although not highly toxic, Thujas can be harmful to canines if eaten in higher quantities.

Arborvitae Tree Mulch Guide


After planting, topdress the soil with 1 to 2 inches of shredded hardwood mulch or pine fines, leaving 6 inches from the base of the tree to prevent rotting of the stem.

Planting Process

  1. Unbox, place outdoors in shade, water thoroughly
  2. Choose location based on light requirements and mature size
  3. Prepare the soil and dig a hole as deep as your pot (day before)
  4. Place tree in center of hole and backfill pit around rootball with 50% existing soils from planting pit and 50% enriched topsoil for best results
  5. Water again thoroughly saturating rootball, and follow up water every other day for first two weeks, then 2 times per week thereafter during 60 day period of establishment
  6. Apply starter fertilizer at specified label rate
  7. Topdress with 1-2" of shredded hardwood mulch or pine fines

When you receive your Arborvitae trees, the first thing you need to do is carefully unbox it and place it in a shady part of your yard while leaving it in its nursery pot. Your plant has just experienced a bit of shipment shock and will need some time to acclimate.

Since it has been in a dark box for 1 to 5 days, you will want to slowly reintroduce it to sunlight by keeping it out of direct light for the first couple of days before planting. Make sure it gets plenty of water while it is still in its nursery pot or burlap bag.

Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and center the tree within the hole. It should only be as deep as the original pot and planting it too deep could cause rotting of the stem and death to the plant. You should still be able to see the top of the root before filling in with soil and mulching.

Consider the mature size of your trees before determining spacing so that you can accommodate for their full grown size. Typically, a double staggered row planted 6 feet apart is best when you want to plant a buffer or privacy screen. For quick privacy, plant 3 to 4 feet apart. However, Thuja Green Giant will grow to be 15 to 18 feet wide so plant the trees about 15 feet apart.

When Should You Plant Arborvitae Trees?

Where Do You Plant Arborvitae?

How Do You Plant a Row of Arborvitae?

How to choose the right Arborvitae Tree?

Top 6 Arborvitae Trees For Your Landscape

Common Name Botanical Growth Rate Mature Height Mature Width
Forever Goldy Arborvitae Thuja plicata 'Forever Goldy' Moderate 10 to 12 Feet 3.5 to 4 Feet
Emerald Green Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green' Slow, Up to 1 ft per year 14 to 16 Feet 4 to 5 Feet
Thuja Nigra Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis 'Nigra' Slow, Up to 1 ft per year 15 to 20 Feet 5 to 10 Feet
American Pillar Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis 'X' Moderate, Up to 3 ft per year 25 to 30 Feet 4 to 5 Feet
DeGroot's Spire Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire' Moderate, Up to 1.5 ft per year 18 to 20 Feet 4 to 5 Feet
Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae Thuja plicata x standishii Fast, 3 to 5 ft per year 50 to 60 Feet 15 to 18 Feet