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Fast-Growing Evergreens for Privacy

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Fast-growing evergreens, Carolina sapphires, planted for privacy.

Fast-growing evergreens, Carolina sapphires, planted for privacy.

Plant Pine Trees for Privacy

Our home was surrounded by bad neighbors. They were loud and hung rebel flag banners from their porches and windows. We needed a privacy screen, and we needed it fast. Financially, our only option was trees.

Carolina Sapphire Trees

We discovered a fast-growing evergreen tree called the Carolina Sapphire. And let me tell you, it grows like you wouldn't believe!

The Carolina Sapphire is a type of cedar. The bluish, evergreen foliage smells almost lemony. It can be sheared into formal shapes or left alone to form thick, impermeable, and soundproof barriers. It also keeps out wildlife.

We bought several tiny trees in liners. When we bought them, the trees were about 10–12 inches tall. We planted each of them ten feet apart.

How to Plant Carolina Sapphire Trees

This type of tree loves water. The more, the better. Unfortunately, we were under drought conditions when we planted the trees, so daily watering was not an option. If you find yourself in this situation, one alternative method we found is using cheap disposable diapers.

  1. Soak as many diapers as trees you are going plant in water using a large bucket or wheelbarrow.
  2. In another container, add water, 1/2 cup of Miracle Grow for evergreens and azaleas, and enough peat moss to make a thick paste.
  3. Make a hole where you'd like to plant each tree.
  4. In each hole, add one cup of the fertilizer and peat moss mixture, and one diaper (cut a slit in the part of the diaper that absorbed the most water).
  5. Plant the tree.
  6. Cover with soil, a 2x2 foot section of landscaping fabric, and three inches of mulch.

When the last tree was planted we set up soaker hoses and watered the trees for about two hours. We watered the trees with the soaker hoses once a week for three weeks, and that's all we ever did for them.

How Long Do Carolina Sapphires Take to Grow?

That spring and summer, the trees grew about two feet. I later discovered that a tree will only begin to grow well after it has been planted for as long as it is old. So, if the seedlings are eight months old, it takes eight months for them to begin to really grow.

The next year, the trees grew another 5–7 feet! We still hadn't done anything after first planting them. At three years old, the trees had formed a great privacy screen that was thick and tall, topping out at around 15–20 feet.

The Downsides of the Carolina Sapphire Tree

The only downside to this tree, as far as I know, is that they can grow so fast that they become top-heavy. If you see one beginning to lean, just plant a couple of metal T-posts near it and tie it up with a wide, soft rope. This will stabilize the tree and make it grow straight. It may take a few years for it to straighten out, so be patient and keep an eye on the rope to make sure it isn't digging into the trunk of the tree. This happened to about two percent of the trees we planted.

Carolina Sapphire Pest Prevention

The other downside is something called budworms, creatures that notoriously feed on cedar trees. They look almost like pinecones and hang from the tips of branches. To deal with this nuisance, simply pull them off by hand. They can't hurt you, and in this stage, they're still in the cocoon. You can try spraying the trees in the very early spring with an insecticide, but that wasn't practical for us. Be vigilant, as budworms can kill a tree within days if not removed at the cocoon stage. We noticed that the budworms tend to congregate on one tree.

Also, the budworm season is short, so once you pull them off, you can relax. We dropped the cocoons into a plastic milk jug, capped the top, and left them in a sunny spot for several days. They have to be destroyed, not just dropped onto the ground when plucked from the tree, or they will make their way back once they evolve from the cocoon stage.

Enjoy Your Privacy!

Other than those two relatively minor nuisances, these trees are worth the time and energy if you are looking for a quick way to create some privacy. You can find them through reputable mail-order companies by searching for "Carolina Sapphire Wholesale" online. The liners are usually $3 or less, and, as I recall, shipping for 25 trees was $12 or so.

Happy privacy screening!

Carolina Sapphire Farm

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Jc82 on March 03, 2016:

Your planting plastic non biodegradable diapers with all your trees?? Nice...

Toni on January 03, 2016:

How bad is the root system? Do the roots spread out or go down? How far from a fence should it be planted?

Jim Geisler on February 06, 2013:

I enjoyed the informative article on growing Carolina sapphire trees from liners. What you refer to as "bud" worms

are actually "bag" worms and they are indeed pesky critters. An application or two of Sevin insectside, when the crawlers are active, will control them but follow up spot spraying may be necessary. Make sure that Sevin will not burn the foliage on the traget plant. For example. Virginia pine will easily suffer bronzed foliage or worse from Sevin, depending on growing conditions and the amount of Sevin applied.

JohnnyCash on September 03, 2012:

Does this grow in Southern Ontario, would like to buy 50-75 for my yard.

backyardguy on August 27, 2011:

Does anyone know if the Carolina Sapphire will grow in Ontario (I'm located in Toronto)? If so, is there a nursery in Ontario that carries the tree?

The reason that I'm asking is that one nursery in Florida that sells the Carolina Sapphire (and ships to Canada) was almost certain that the Carolina Sapphire won't grow beyond northern Pennsylvania. on March 27, 2011:

Thanks for the information - think I will look for this type of tree

HENRI BELCOURT on January 01, 2011:

Can you please advise as to where you found these trees for sale in Ontario.



gr82bme from USA on October 01, 2010:

I was looking for these tress. I saw an ad and could not remember where. Now I have found them again

KimmiJ (author) from Earth on July 08, 2009:

Welcome to HubPages! Thank you for your comment. My parents had the same thing happen to them, after 30 years in a very private location, and they planted the same trees last year. They're awesome. Let us know how it goes. :)

wanrey from Canada on July 07, 2009:

Hi I am new to Hubpages as a matter of fact I have only just posted my first hub ,and don't quite know my way around yet but by chance I came across your hub hopefully it seems to provide exactly the solution I've been searching for since they built a new subdivision around my once private garden. Now we have no privacy at all as we are over looked on all sides.All I have to do now is hopefully locate this tree for sale somewhere in Ontario Canada.