Newly planted cedar (Thuja occidentalis) hedges often fail to establish in our strata landscapes. I see it all the time and it feels like a waste of time and money. While there may be soil issues, I find that most of the time it’s lack of proper watering that affects the new hedges.
New cedar hedges require lots of water but residents are busy with their lives; and landscapers aren’t really paid to water the landscape. They have other pressing issues to attend to.
I personally planted the three brown cedars (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd‘) pictured above and I watered them in. That’s it. Then it’s up to the resident near-by to water them regularly; and she happens to be a home-gardener.
Now, there is some shading from a dogwood and a shore pine but for hedges this new it’s definitely lack of water.
So now what? More cedar hedges? I doubt it. That would be just throwing money away.
Let’s take a look at alternatives.
Finally, some good news. I planted this row of Hick’s yews (Taxus) in a shady back area facing a public park. There used to be cedars but they were all doing badly; some weren’t even upright. So we tossed them all and started over.
I planted these yews last year and they inspired this blog post because it was nice to see them all green and growing. That’s how I like it. I’m confident they will do well. Yews are more resilient than cedars.
The yews will fill out and may require gentle hand pruning on top.
This was another fight. Narrow planter boxes planted with cedars and the plants kept failing. The planters offer limited soil and root areas and the building maintenance personnel are too busy to water regularly. In addition, the patio heats up in summer, blasting the cedars with reflected heat.
So we installed Berberis thunbergii which are tougher than cedars. They have beautiful purple foliage and in winter they sport red berries. I will check on them in twelve months.
Cedar hedges require lots of water to establish in the landscape but, sadly, they don’t often receive adequate amounts. Then they decline and die which is a waste of money and time. Luckily, there are alternatives like yews and Berberis. You can try other plants and have some fun with it.