Arborvitae in the Home Garden

Arborvitae in the Home Garden

Arborvitae is a very nice plant for the home landscape. Also called Thuja occidentalis, arborvitae is an extremely versatile evergreen tree in the landscape. It can be used as a foundation planting, privacy screen, or even as a windbreak. These columnar evergreens tend to evoke a formal mood in the garden. There are cultivars that range from 2 feet in height all the way up to 40 feet tall, so if you decide to add it into your garden make sure you choose the right place for the height and spread of the cultivar. (The forty foot variety wouldn’t do well next to your house!) If you plant it as a privacy screen keep the spread of the trees in mind as a thick privacy screen will need to be planted close together.

This weekend I planted five ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae in pots to serve as a backdrop for my brother-in-law’s wedding. ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae grows to 15 feet tall and spreads out to about 4 feet wide but these particular trees were about four feet tall. Their potted homes are only temporary and after the wedding the trees will be planted into the landscape to serve either as a privacy screen or as a foundation planting. The pots also added a little bit of extra height for the background.

The exact location for the ceremony had yet to be determined (there is an issue with the location of the sun at 7:00 PM) on Saturday but since the potted arborvitae are somewhat mobile that doesn’t matter. They can go wherever we take them…well, almost!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. And emerald green is GREEN in winter. Just got one in the last year as a back porch corner accent and mini privacy screen on its own, and boy, to see taht green in the cold and snow is fantastic. Hopefully, like other past cultivars I’ve owned, it’ll put on a foot each year. Have a good wedding! My one year anniversary is tomorrow.

  2. What beautiful, healthy looking plants! They should be wonderful for the wedding and yes, anything that stays green in the winter adds color all year round!

  3. I love these trees in the landscape. I have found they do best with a bit of shade-and water during droughts. It is an excellent backdrop for a wedding.

  4. The wedding is going to be beautiful Dave…you have done good job planning the plantings!

    Will the Thuja come to your house for planting out or stay at the wedding site?


  5. As soon as I saw the picture, I said to myself, “I bet that tree is for the wedding”! What a great idea to have them in pots so you can easily move them if need be. Big Day is approaching and your work is looking great…

  6. Great planning Dave. They will be so pleased with your hard work. These things are not easy to prepare for.
    Good luck to the happy couple.
    The trees look fabulous. We had some at our old home & they were over 40′ & you could hardly drive between them as the driveway was in the middle. We didn’t know about the different kinds at that time.

  7. Ben,

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Although we don’t have much snow down here the green will surely stand out amongst the deciduous trees in the winter. A foot a year sounds good!


    Thanks! I hope they fit in well with what the flower person has arranged. We’ll see soon, the wedding is Saturday.


    They do like moisture. They’ll be in the shade for a bit. Then they will go in the ground but I’m not sure where yet. I hope they enjoy it!


    Thanks! Maybe you just recognized the location!


    Those were some big arborvitae! That kind would make a great privacy screen.

  8. Great choice and they look very festive in their pots. We have them as a privacy hedge several places and they have done great, without any water either, the hose won’t reach. I think Emerald grows fifteen feet tall but only two feet wide, so plant them close together if you want full privacy, two feet on center. The only ones that are not doing well are at the foot of a mature pine tree, they are alive but dwarfed. The pine shades them too much and takes all the moisture. I need to replace them with something else, maybe hollies, another good drought tolerant screen, but needs some shade. The wedding will be lovely with all your thoughtful work.

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