Fast-Growing Evergreens 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.
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 to 12 inches tall. We planted each of them 10 feet apart.
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. Here's how:
Planting Carolina Sapphire Trees
- Soak as many diapers as trees you are going plant in water using a large bucket or wheelbarrow.
- In another container, add water, 1/2 cup of Miracle Grow for evergreens and azaleas, and enough peat moss to make a thick paste.
- Make a hole where you'd like to plant each tree.
- 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).
- Plant the tree.
- 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.
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 five to seven 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 to 20 feet.
The Downsides of the Carolina Sapphire Tree
The only downsides 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 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.
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 bud worms 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 typing in "Carolina Sapphire Wholesale" into a search engine. The liners are usually $3 or less, and, as I recall, shipping for 25 trees was $12 or so.
Happy privacy screening!