Cypress trees are a very drought tolerant evergreen variety that have pyramidal a shape, primarily in their youth. Most breeds of cypress trees can grow up to 40 feet tall making them great for privacy screens, but there are also “dwarf” varieties that are ornate, smaller, and shrub-like that will be great additions to your landscape.
Their leaves are awl-shaped on young shoots, but small and scale-like on older branches with aromatic, glandular pits on the outer surface. Small, spherical cones develop generally on the tips of the branches with four to five leathery scales attached to the cone’s axis.
Cypresses are typically grown as ornamental trees for their foliage and graceful beauty.
Choosing a location:
Choose a nice sunny spot that’s partially shaded, with soil that is well draining. A soil pH of 5.0 to 8.0 is recommended for best results.
It’s important to properly space your trees when crating a privacy hedge. Leyland cypresses and drought tolerant evergreens for example, can reach a mature width of 15-25 feet, so they need enough space to flourish. Space your cypress trees about 5 to 8 feet apart, depending on how wide they grow.
2) Dig a hole that is three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter for a boost in nutrients and minerals. Organic matter will also improve the drainage of your soil.
3) Set your tree in the hole. Gently spread the roots outward avoiding any sharp bends.
4) Backfill the hole and pack soil firmly until the root crown is about two inches higher than your soil. Water the site and gently tamp down the soil.
5) Use about 3 inches of organic mulch about six inches away from the trunk to keep soil moist and to prevent competitive weeds from growing near the base of your tree.
Stakes provide support to keep young trees upright and allows free movement in the wind to build the trunk’s strength. Stakes are typically metal or wooden and not much taller than the tree’s lowest branch. Since a staked tree moves in the wind be careful that branches do not hit the stakes.
Use a minimum of two stakes for each tree since one will not provide proper support and often leads to trees bending or snapping.
After one season of growth you should be able to remove the stakes. To be sure that your tree is ready to stand on its own just shake the center, if the root ball has no movement then your tree’s roots have established and you can remove the support.
Water your cypress trees evenly until the soil becomes moist. You’ll want the area to look and feel moist but not to the point where it’s over saturated and puddles form. Allow the soil to dry for a few days until it feels dry to the touch about half an inch below the surface.
A slow drip from a garden hose works best, as it allows the water to penetrate the soil deeply down to the roots, without over saturating it.
After about three months water your cypress trees twice a week. During excessive hot and dry weather you may need to water three times weekly.
Fertilize your tree well after a year of growth, once the root system has had enough time to establish. This will speed up the growth of your tree and provide beneficial nutrients.
Using a general fertilizer like formula 10-10-10 once every spring will give it a boost. Alternatively, you can feed the tree with solid tree fertilizer spikes labeled for use on evergreens. You’ll find the proper number of spikes to use in the directions on the fertilizer package.
If you intend on letting your cypress tree grow to its full, mature height then very little pruning will be needed. If you plan to keep your trees from growing past a certain point or want them to stay in an ornate shape then pruning more regularly will be needed.
No matter what season, cut diseased or dying limbs turning brown off. Yellowing branches can be saved with proper watering and nutrients. Use clippers for thin branches and a saw the larger ones but be sure never to make your cuts flush with the trunk.
If you see green foliage turning brown in the center, then this is a warning that branches are too dense and your tree needs better light and air circulation. Remove branches all over to provide better airflow and light. Cut these branches back to the main trunk.
To prevent your tree from growing any taller, snip off the tip of the main leader. However, keep in mind that this could encourage more outward, bushy growth. When shaping your cypress, trim the tips of the branches no more than one-third of the length. For design pruning its best to shape in the late winter when the tree is in it’s semi-dormant state.
Cypress trees are a fantastic addition when a privacy fence or easy growing tree is needed. They can grow 3-5 feet per year, so you don’t have to wait years and years to pass for them to reach their mature size. Plus, they have a very high tolerance to pests and diseases. The cypress tree’s feathery, light foliage and very low maintenance qualities make them easy, attractive members for any landscape.