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Lazy S'S Farm Nursery  - Leyland Cypress vs. Arborvitae (Arbovitae)
Thinking of planting a row of evergreens for screening?  See how Arborvitae (Thuja) stacks up against the every popular Leyland Cypress.  These are photos of trees here at the nursery.  We actually introduced Leylands to the Charlottesville Area!  Ours here are about 25+ years old.  

Please note, these photos (and tree photos) are scaled to the 5'8" girl.

Arborvitae Dark Green American (Thuja occidentalis 'Nigra') 

US Native tree

Leyland Cypress  (X Cupressocyparis leylandii) 

Hybrid between two US Native trees 


As you can see the mature Arborvitae is shorter but still a meaningful size (about 23-25') for screening..


In general, the Arborvitae has a much nicer shape naturally:  it continues to go out at the bottom where the Leyland actually dips in several feet at the bottom (see photo at right) and below.


Obviously, these are 'cut and pasted' so the edges are a quite sharp but it gives you an idea of the general shape of each.  At the point - the lower 6 feet -- where you might want dense coverage for privacy, the Leyland dips in, where the mature Arborvitae goes out. And the foliage of the Arbovitae is a bit more dense.

Arborvitae are extremely, extremely drought tolerant.  


Beautiful, feathery foliage is the 'Dark Green American' Arborvitae's trademark.


Once established, Arborvitae are extremely drought tolerant.  

A sample of one of our field grown Arborvitae.


Field grown Arborvitae are shallow rooted and need a planting hole that is shallow and wide.  Large Arborvitae are much easier to plant than a similar sized Leyland, which has a different growth pattern to the roots, and needs a very deep hole -- about 2-3' deep and wide for a similar sized tree.   Much less digging for the Arborvitae so they're less expensive to plant.



This Leyland above was limbed up at the bottom -- lower limbs removed -- so that a garden could be planted beneath it.  The Leyland is about 32' tall -- about the max height it will reach in the more dry East.  It will grow much taller in places like Seattle.  Notice the shape of the Leyland below.  It curves in at the bottom.

The Leyland is a very fast grower 4-6' per years but it is a hot weather plant and to get that kind of growth, it must be watered during hot weather.  It is not a great Evergreen to plant in the Fall because it doesn't root in as well when warm weather has past.  The Arborvitae is a year round grower.  If you plant a Leyland in the Fall, you must water it during dry periods in the WINTER! 

 Beautiful Leyland foliage but not as green as the Arborvitae at left.


We love Leylands but unfortunately, in the East and South, they've started to develop some problems with pests.   Fast as rabbits but they're not the best choice for Fall planting unless you're willing to make a serious commitment to watering during the Winter.

Size Considerations:  On small lots or in subdivisions where houses are very close, the Leyland is almost too tall.  You should come and look at ours and see how they can dwarf the average house if they're planted too close -- especially a one story ranch.  (Yes, I know the artwork is pathetic -- it's just to give you a sense of the size of a Leyland if they're very close to a house.)  But when you see that 3-4' Leyland at a nursery or garden center, it's hard to imagine what's it's going to look like when it's 35 feet tall.


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Lazy S'S Farm Nursery

2360 Spotswood Trail, Barboursville, VA  22923