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What are Cedar Hedges?

By O. Parker
Updated May 16, 2024
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A cedar hedge is a hedge composed of cedar trees. Cedar hedges create a dense wind and visual barrier around a property line or between landscape areas. With evergreen foliage, cedar hedges provide privacy and wind protection year-round.

Cedar hedges are formed from a series of cedar trees that are planted close together in a row. To keep the cedar trees at hedge height, yearly pruning is required. Many cedar trees grow far too tall for use as hedges without pruning. Unlike a cedar fence, which is a fence build out of cedar wood, a cedar hedge is made out of living cedar trees that are sensitive to growing conditions, soil nutrients, and access to water.

Most cedar varieties can be used to create a cedar hedge. A popular and commonly used variety is Thuja occidentalis, commonly called white cedar and a variety native to the eastern areas of the United States. Thuja plicata, or western red cedar, a native of the western United States, is also a suitable variety for a cedar hedge.

When planting a cedar hedge, young trees 3 to 6 feet (about 90 to 180 cm) tall should be used. The trees are planted 12 to 20 inches (about 30 to 50 cm) apart to create a dense hedge. Smaller trees should be planted closer to 12 inches (about 30 cm) apart while larger trees should be planted 20 inches (about 50 cm) apart.

It is important to note that Cedar trees are sensitive to salt. Many walkways and roadways are treated with salt during the winter in places where icy conditions are common. To avoid salt damage to cedar hedges, they should be planted at least 4 feet (about 120 cm) from walkways and roadways.

Yearly pruning is important when growing and maintaining cedar hedges as well. Cedar trees and hedges should be pruned early in the spring. In the first year, a newly planted cedar hedge does not require pruning. In subsequent years, removing 2 to 3 inches (about 5 to 8 cm) from the top will encourage even growth. Additional pruning 1 to 2 inches (about 1.5 to 5 cm) from the side branches encourages lateral growth for a thicker effect.

Good soil nutrition can be provided by adding a compost or manure mulch layer once or twice a year. A mulch layer 2 to 6 inches (about 5 to 15 cm) is spread on the ground, extending out to the area just below the outermost branches. Only seasoned manure or well-rotted compost should be used.

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