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A Fast Growing Landscaping Tree: The Leyland Cypress Tree

The Leyland Cypress

Leylands Provide Beauty and Privacy

The Leyland Cypress tree (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is one of the fastest growing evergreen trees that you can plant. Not only are they fast growing, they are beautiful. Leylands are very popular as a privacy screen, sometimes planted close together to form a hedge.

Named after an English banker Christopher Leyland on whose estate the tree was cultivated as a hybrid in the mid nineteenth century, they are one of the most common privacy plantings in the suburban landscape. These trees are very hardy and can even withstand drought conditions. They require very little care and maintenance once they have become established.

Leyland Cypress trees do best in full sun and, like all evergreen trees, require a lot of water during the first year after planting. They grow in a wide variety of soil conditions, but a PH of five to eight is preferred.

Where do they Thrive? When Should You Plant Them?

In the United States, Leyland Cypress trees do best in zones 6-10. They are not recommended in the South. The trees are best planted in late summer or early fall while the ground is still warm. They don't go through a dormancy period in the winter so there is no benefit to waiting until late fall. They have shallow roots and can be knocked over in a very heavy wind. Be prepared to buy commercially available tree anchors if they are planted in a spot that gets a lot of wind.

Planted three weeks ago - Each tree about 6 feet


These were planted 3 years ago - at 6 feet


How Fast Do they Grow and How Tall Do They Get?

The new growth of a Leyland Cypress tree is amazing to behold each Spring. When you plant a tree, your imagination kicks in as you contemplate what the it will look like in a few years. The only thing wrong with the preceding sentence is "a few years." With a Leyland Cypress tree, you will see growth after one year and substantial growth after two. I have an arborist friend who always asks clients if they wants to see a full grown specimen "in your lifetime." Leylands will grow as much as four feet a year and can reach a height of 70 feet. You can see a dramatic growth of Leylands in my yard in the nearby photographs.

Are they Susceptible to Any Specific Tree Diseases?

A Leyland Cypress tree, like any tree, can develop a fungus or disease. But this is really a function of location and growing conditions. If planted in zones 6 to 10 in proper soil conditions you should not have a problem. They are very hardy trees.

A Note of Caution: Don't Limit Yourself to One Species of Tree

Two of the most popular trees in the 1970s and 1980s where I live on Long Island were the Black Pine and the Hemlock. The Black Pine was a sturdy tree that could withstand wind and even salt spray. It is no wonder that the tree was popular along the North and South Forks of long Island, and area with some harsh maritime conditions. Then along came the Black Turpentine Beatle. By the time its infestation was noticed, vast swaths of Black Pine trees were destroyed all along the coast. It was sad.

The Hemlock tree was very popular because it was fast growing and had beautiful delicate branches. The Hemlock was hit by a little bug called adalgid. It looked like specks of salt on the branches. Adalgid could be combated by annual spraying, but the cost, sometimes hundreds of dollars a year, acted as a brake on the tree's popularity. You seldom see Hemlock trees for sale in a nursery.

The point here is that you never know when some kind of blight might strike a particular species of tree. If 90 percent of your yard was planted by a tree that a blight strikes, it's time to start all over. Just like an investment portfolio, balance is the key.

A Word About Hurricanes

Hurricanes are dogs and trees are cats. The photos below were taken a few days after Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island with sustained winds of 60 mph and gusts to 90 mph. As a precaution I had added straps to anchor some of the larger trees after they bent over from a previous storm. Hurricane Sandy was not impressed by my straps. The good news is that the trees haven't been lost and my landscaper will soon re-root the trees and add larger anchor straps. He suggested that we trim the trees in the spring. Hurricane Sandy has been called an 100 year storm, but the point is simple. Protect the beauty of your trees with some precautions such as anchoring and trimming.

Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran

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Hurricane Sandy Meets My Leylands


Hurricanes Require Precaution with Trees



GreenMind Guides from USA on December 25, 2016:

Great hub on a truly important topic -- thanks and keep them coming!

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff (author) from Long Island, New York on July 03, 2012:

Thanks. Check with a local nursery to see if they may work in your zone. You can order them off the Internet

Om Paramapoonya on July 03, 2012:

I wish we had Leyland Cypress trees here. They are so lovely. Thanks for sharing these interesting facts and tips :)

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff (author) from Long Island, New York on June 20, 2012:

They're beautiful - n the right climate

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 20, 2012:

I've never heard of this type of tree before. Fascinating! Thanks for introducing me to it.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff (author) from Long Island, New York on June 19, 2012:

I would check with a nursery person Leah. It probably would work, especially with moderating winds from the lake.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff (author) from Long Island, New York on June 19, 2012:

Thanks Bill

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff (author) from Long Island, New York on June 19, 2012:

I would check with a nursery person Leah. It probably would work, especially with moderating winds from the lake.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 19, 2012:

Very interesting! I've never seen one, certainly not where we live. Great info and pictures.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 19, 2012:

Hmm... we're zone 5b, but I wonder if a cypress might be able to tolerate our winters? I might try one out - we've had success with several zone 6 plants in our area (we are in Western NY, and the temps are moderated by Lake Erie). I second the notion of planting more than one species - our neighborhood is filled with silver maples and they're all dying. We are in the process of replacing those trees with a variety of trees - we're not sure what is killing them, but they're losing all of their leaves and bark.

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