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Privacy Trees

A privacy tree is, as you would imagine, any tree grown specifically for its ability to provide privacy. This term usually applies to large trees with spreading canopies which are able to cover or prevent seeing into a large area or for hedges which offer a thick dense boundary line option to growers. When choosing a privacy tree, deciduousness (this means that the tree will not lose its leaves in fall and will be able to provide all year round coverage), longevity, and the ability to be planted close together as a hedge are all common desirable qualities.

Seasonal information: During dormancy, no growth occurs in the upper branches of most privacy trees and attention is given to growing a stronger root system. This stronger root system will better support foliage growth in the spring. It is best to plant privacy trees before they enter a stage of dormancy in the fall. Dormancy is somewhat similar to hibernation for animals. In the winter, a hibernating animal’s respiration and heartbeat slows. Trees also slow their growth functions in the fall and winter. This lasts until spring when the warm weather and warm soil trigger renewed growth.

Location: Choose a sunny location with moist, well-drained soil.

Planting instructions: Dig a planting hole four times the diameter of the root ball and deep enough so the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Fill planting hole with water and allow soil to drain. Remove the privacy tree from container or cut away burlap from around the root ball. Place the privacy tree in the center of the planting hole making sure it is straight. Backfill the planting hole with the original soil and water generously again. Lightly tamp down the soil to help remove air pockets. Spread a two- to three-inch layer of mulch or other organic material around the entire planting area.

Watering: Watering should be followed depending on the privacy tree you choose, but should usually increase watering routines in warmer climates and reduce them in winter or cooler climates.

Fertilization: Privacy tree requires little fertilizer to remain healthy. A shot of a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer, applied annually in the spring, is sufficient.

Weed Control: Selective post-emergent weed killers will kill grassy weeds.

Pests and Disease: Always monitor your privacy tree for signs of pests and disease – while uncommon, usual garden pests can infiltrate the leaves and root system causing complications.

Pruning: In the first year, trim back long side-shoots at the start of the growing season. Trim sides lightly in late July. The sides can be trimmed the following to year encourage denser growth. Continue to trim the sides each year, leaving the leading shoot untouched until the desired height is reached. Topping and regular trimming of the sides should prevent trees from becoming increasingly large.

Pollination: Since they cannot reproduce themselves, most Privacy trees are produced through cuttings. Most of the trees currently planted are cuttings of those trees that first sprung up in Wales.

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