Arborvitae trees can be used to create dense evergreen privacy hedges. They have a symmetrical shape that requires little trimming. While tall, pyramidal or columnar shapes are most common, shorter, rounded species are also available. Arborvitae foliage is flat and fans out vertically from the center. Varieties may vary in color from yellow to green, but all arborvitae are soft to the touch. To create dense screens, gauge the mature spread and plant so branches will intersect.
Arborvitaes are not drought hardy plants, so provide adequate water, especially in dry periods. They benefit from fertilization in early spring and mid-fall. Most grow best in full sun, but some tolerate part shade.
One pyramidal variety, 'Emerald Green' arborvitae, grows 10-15 feet tall and spreads 3-4 feet. It thrives in zones 4-8 and is hardy to -40 degrees F. Normal growth is 6-12 inches per year.
Another variety, 'George Peabody', has striking yellow foliage and grows 10-12 feet high, spreading 5-8 feet. It is hardy in zones 3-8 and averages 6-8 inches of growth per year.
For foundation plantings or a specimen plant, consider 'Golden Globe', which is only 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. It has a rounded form, with golden yellow coloring on outer edges and a bright green interior. Hardy in zones 5-8, it averages 4-8 inches of growth per year.
Tip: check with local growers for varieties best suited to your area.