Leyland Cypress Trees
Leyland Cypress Trees are a fast growing conifer averaging three or more feet per year. Its rapid growth makes this tree ideal for hedges, windbreaks, and privacy trees. Its overall fast growth rate makes Leyland Cypress very easy to grow. It also responds well to tight trimming which makes this a valid option for tight formal hedges. Leyland Cypress Trees have airy gracefully arching foliage is bright emerald green. Very fast growth, up to 3 feet per year in youth minimum makes a quick solution to problem views or lack of privacy. Tolerant of most soils and salt spray.
Growing Zone: 6 – 10
Mature Height: 40 to 50 feet
Mature Width: 20 feet
Sunlight: Full Sun
Foliage Color: Greenish Gray
Growth Form: Upright pyramidal
Soil: Very tolerant
Does Not Ship To: CA, WA, OR, AZ
Leyland Cypress Trees as a Privacy Screen:
Leyland Cypress is hardy to Zone 6. It is a pyramidal tree, which can reach up to 40 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide which makes it good for tall screen. It is graceful, and somewhat open in habit of growth. Give Leyland Cypress trees ample room, to allow for symmetry of growth. It grows well in a variety of soils, but prefers good drainage. The Leyland Cypress tree is great if you need to create fast privacy for your home. It’s a fast growing tree growing around 2-3 feet per year where its happy. We recommend planting Leyland Cypress in a line with about 5 feet apart from each other to create quick privacy, however they can be planted at 10 to 12 foot intervals if you don’t mind waiting a bit for privacy. When planting alone the tree takes on a pyramidal shape and can be grown as a specimen tree to break sight-lines. Double row plantings of Leyland Cypress are a great way to not only create privacy but to reduce noise from a busy roadway adjacent to your property for example. Leyland Cypress trees also make a wonderful backdrop for planting beds the pleasing gray-green color makes flowering plants really standout.
Use Leyland Cypress as a Quick Growing Formal Hedge:
The Leyland cypress is widely used as a quick growing formal hedge. Plant 4 to 8 feet apart, depending upon your desired results. Trim when needed but we do suggest waiting until after the initial flush of soft spring growth. If it is pruned every year, Leyland Cypress will create a formal dark-green gray evergreen screen or box-shaped hedge, similar to a Yew hedge. Leyland Cypress can be kept to any height as long as you trim it once or twice a year. We have kept a Leyland Cypress Hedge 6 ft tall for many years. We trim the tops of most of our Leyland Cypress hedges twice a year and the sides once a year.
Use Leyland Cypress to Add Vertical Elements to the Garden:
Leyland Cypress can also be planted in clusters in corners of the garden or to hide smaller permanent fixtures in the garden such as well caps or utility boxes. Clusters can be used at the ends of shrub borders or even in the middle to bring symmetry or vertical elements into the garden. Shrub borders tend to be a uniform in height but by adding clusters of larger evergreen trees you bring variations in height as well as a sense of permanence to the garden Leyland Cypress are communal trees that prefer to grow in groups.
Soil Types for Growing Leyland Cypress Trees:
Leyland Cypress Trees grow well in a wide range of soils, ranging from all sand to pure red clay. When planting in very sandy soils adding organic matter is always recommended to improve the soils ability to hold water and nutrients. When planting in hard clay soils, its best to dig the hole several feet wider than the root system and fill with soft loam soil to give the young Leyland Cypress tree a faster, more aggressive root system. Leyland Cypress prefer well drained soils but will tolerate wet soils for short periods of time. Leylands should never be planted in soils that are excessively wet for long periods of time. Since Leyland Cypress have a shallow root system, weeds and grass growing around the tree will cause the tree to grow much slower until established. Mulching will improve your growth three fold. Mulch not only stops weeds and grass, it will hold soil moisture and maintain a lower more even soil temperature, stimulating more aggressive root growth.
How to Plant a Leyland Cypress Tree:
Never plant Leyland Cypress deeper than originally planted in the pot. As a rule we always say that before you mulch you should still be able to see the soil from the original pot. Planting to deep can cause rotting of the stem and death to the tree. Leyland Cypress are very drought tolerant, however they grow very slow without adequate water. Staking young trees is recommended to minimize the stress on the stem from winds blowing the tree. When tying trees to stakes remember the tree will continue to grow. Loosely tie the tree with several twist ties to allow for growth. Check trees every three months and loosen as needed. If this is not done, the twist tie will grow into the tree causing injury. A Pro tip that we can offer is to use a short length of old garden hose and run the tie wire through the hose. this will protect the trunk of the tree from being damaged by the tie wire. The one question that comes up often when talking to customers is “when is the best time to plant.”? For the most part, container trees can be planted year around, provided the ground isn’t frozen. Below Virginia many nurseries and Christmas tree growers field plant year around, weather permitting. When planting a potted tree, remember the only water source the tree has, is its small root ball, and all the water the tree uses must come from them until new roots can grow into the surrounding soil. New trees should be watered twice weekly (Minimum), under hot drier conditions possibly more. Care should be taken not to over water. More trees die from over watering than under.
How to Fertilize Leyland Cypress Trees:
We recommend when planting your plants to use Bio-tone starter fertilizer by Espoma. We have trialed many so called “starter fertilizers” over the years and have come to rely on Bio-tone exclusively for our own use. Simply mix the recommended amount of Bio-tone into the back fill soil and water in generously when back filled. Bio-tone® Starter Plus is an all-natural plant food that is combined with a stronger concentration of beneficial bacteria along with both endo and ecto mycorrhizae. Basically the “good” fungus in Bio-tone colonizes on the growing roots of your newly planted plant and does not allow disease causing fungus to attack the new roots. It has also shown promise in stimulating the growth of the new roots which means quicker establishment for you plant. After establishment and during the following years we recommend Holly-tone used at the recommended rates. It is also organic and slow release which will feed your trees the proper amount of nutrients over a period of time rather than all at once which can burn the root tips and actually have the opposite effect of slowing down plant growth. It also will help to maintain the acid level in the soil that Leylands need to thrive.
How to Shear Leyland Cypress Trees:
Shearing is generally not needed however for a formal hedge start shearing when the tree reaches 3 or 4 feet in height, cutting only the sides, remove no more than 3 or 4 inches of growth. This will cause the tree to grow thicker. If you want the tree to grow tall don’t cut the top leader, just shape the sides. The best time to shear is after a new growth spurt finishes and the new growth begins to mature. Growth will go from a smooth, greasy texture, to a rougher snake skin look. Shearing twice a year is sufficient but only if needed. To keep your trees at a particular height requires cutting the central leader and then shearing all outside branches. This will control the tree for many years, but in time the tree will become too large to maintain. Pruning can help make Leyland Cypress more bushy. It is recommended that you disinfect your shears before you begin and even after each plant to prevent disease spread. You can prune dead or diseased limbs anytime of the year. To encourage thick bushy trees simply trim back the limbs that have outstretched the rest of the tree.
Insect Problems with Leyland Cypress Trees:
Leyland Cypress normally have only a few insects that cause any real problems. Bag-worms are probably the worst pest, on small trees Bag-worms can be picked by hand but larger trees need to be sprayed. Scale is another insect that attacks Leylands, they look like little crusty flakes covering the needles and branches. Scale feed on sap causing a chlorosis (yellow) look to the needles. The most difficult insect to control on Leylands is Spider Mites. These are very small insects that can be seen with a magnifying glass. Feeding on the sap causes needles to turn yellow and later brown. Spidermites have become resistant to most of the old chemicals. We recommend using only true miticides for control.
History and Introduction of Leyland Cypress Trees:
In 1845, the Leighton Hall estate was purchased by the Wealthy Liverpool banker Christopher Leyland. In 1847, he gave it to his nephew John Naylor. John Naylor commissioned Edward Kemp to lay out the gardens, which included redwoods, monkey puzzle trees and two North American species of conifers in close proximity to each other – Monterey cypress and Nootka cypress. The two parent species would not likely cross in the wild as their natural ranges are more than 400 miles apart, but in 1888 the hybrid cross occurred when the female flowers or cones of Nootka cypress were fertilized by pollen from Monterey cypress.
John Naylor’s eldest son Christopher John inherited Leighton Hall from his father in 1889. Christopher was a sea captain by trade. In 1891 he inherited the Leyland Entailed Estates established under the will of his great-great-uncle, which passed to him following the death of his uncle Thomas Leyland. On receiving the inheritance Christopher changed his surname to Leyland, and moved to Haggerston Castle, Northumberland. He further developed the hybrid at his new home, and hence named the first clone variant ‘Haggerston Grey’. His younger brother John (1856–1906) inherited Leighton Hall, and when in 1911 the reverse hybrid of the cones of the Monterey cypress were fertilized with pollen from the Nootka, that hybrid was then named ‘Leighton Green.’ Leighton Green is still available to this day but not well known.