By Jackie Carroll
Flat stems of feathery, blue-green foliage and ornamental bark combine to make Leyland cypress an appealing choice for medium to large landscapes. Leyland cypress trees grow three feet or more per year, making it an excellent choice for a quick specimen or lawn tree, or a privacy hedge. Information about Leyland cypress will help with growing healthy trees.
Information About Leyland Cypress
Leland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a rare, but successful, hybrid between two different genera: Cupressus and Chamaecyparis. Leyland cypress has a short lifespan for an evergreen tree, surviving for 10 to 20 years. This tall evergreen conifer is grown commercially in the Southeast as a Christmas tree.
The tree grows to a height of 50 to 70 feet, and although the spread is only 12 to 15 feet, it may overwhelm small, residential properties. Therefore, larger areas are most suitable for growing a Leyland cypress tree. The tree is also useful in coastal landscapes where it tolerates salt spray.
How to Grow Leyland Cypress Trees
Leyland cypress trees need a location in full sun or partial shade and a rich, well-drained soil. Avoid windy sites where the tree may be blown over.
Plant the tree so that the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil in a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. Backfill the hole with the soil that you removed from it without amendments. Press down with your foot as you fill the hole to remove any air pockets that may be present.
Leyland Cypress Care
Leyland cypress trees need very little care. Water them deeply during prolonged drought, but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
The tree doesn’t need regular fertilization.
Watch for bagworms and, if possible, remove the bags before the larvae they contain have a chance to emerge.
Growing a Leyland Cypress Pruned Hedge
Its narrow, columnar growth pattern makes Leyland cypress ideal for use as a hedge to screen out unsightly views or protect your privacy. To form a pruned hedge, set out the trees with 3 feet of space between them.
When they reach a height about a foot beyond the desired height of the hedge, top them to about 6 inches below that height. Prune the shrubs every year in midsummer to maintain the height and shape the hedge. Pruning during damp weather, however, can lead to disease.