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Everything You Need to Know

About “Emerald Green” Arborvitae  

        Typically, homeowners want privacy--they want their house and yard screened off from the sight and noise of neighbors and streets.  Of course they can build a wood fence, but fences are expensive to install, require upkeep, and don’t have a “natural” look.  So many people prefer a “green screen”, a hedge. 

       “Emerald Green” Arborvitae is the most popular form of privacy screening in the Pacific Northwest .  The trees have a beautiful round and upright shape, a dark green color that stays all year and, planted properly, they will form a solid, low-maintenance, long-living barrier.  You can hardly drive a mile anywhere without seeing some.  

        NOTE:  After you have reviewed this section, please also see the Instant Privacy Photo Gallery for "Before & After" photos of Emerald Green Arborvitae plantings.

How Fast do Emerald Green’s Grow?

            Emerald Greens are pretty close to the perfect hedging tree, but here’s their “dirty little secret”—as stated in the Sierra Garden Encyclopedia and numerous other sources, they are a “slow grower”.  This is something most Emerald Green retailers don’t want to talk about, because they are carrying smaller trees.   

The first year after planting, the trees are establishing their roots and thus will add little “top growth”.  After that, depending on growing conditions—particularly the amount of sunlight—and the way they are pruned (see below) they might add 4-9” in height per year, and 2-6” in width.

           So if you’re planning on buying small Emerald Greens  and letting them grow into a hedge, plan on several years without the privacy you’re seeking.  You also should read the "Hedgerow Hedge Woe" article that explains why you don't want to start with small trees.  Some people are willing to wait for their privacy; but if you want “Instant Privacy tm” you’ll need to buy bigger trees to begin with.  

 Why are Some Emerald Greens Skinny and Some Bushy?

                Emerald Green arborvitae are cylindrical cedar trees.  If they are allowed to grow without any pruning, they grow tall and thin.  If they are pruned on top they will put their growth into growing bushier but not add as much height.  Thus the grower has a choice:  Do you want maximum height or maximum bushiness, or something in between.  Many growers, either intentionally or because they don’t know what they are doing, simply let the trees grow without pruning.  They want to be able to advertise a 5-6’ tree as soon as possible.  But those trees will be skinny and the homeowner will either need to plant them closer together, or wait years while they fill in.   Also, many volume growers grow the trees in containers instead of in the ground because it is easier to mass-produce them that way.  Container trees are often tall and skinny, and there should be a concern about how well they will transplant because they have lived in such a controlled environment.

One other point to be aware of:  There is no uniform grading for Emerald Greens.  Some sellers will call a tree 6’ if the very top of the tree reaches that, in spite of the fact that the tree is actually a small tree overall.   Be careful to compare “apples to apples”.  

                 A couple of 6' Emerald Greens.  We sell the one on the right.  Our tree weighs more than twice as much as the other one, and is several years older. 

How Far Apart should Emerald Greens be Planted? 

              The typical “rule of thumb” is to plant Emerald Greens on “2’ centers”, meaning the trunks of the trees are 2’ apart.  Some people want them closer than that so that there are no gaps between the trees, some people plant them further apart and are willing to wait for the trees to fill in.  Of course, the width of the tree you’re starting with makes a big difference as to whether you have privacy or not.  If you buy narrower trees, you’re going to have to plant them closer together to achieve a solid wall quickly.  

Will I Need to Prune my Emerald Greens? 

              The basic answer in "No".  The great thing about Emerald Green Arborvitae is that they give a beautiful natural screen but don't take up a lot of your yard.  Other screening trees such as Douglas Fir, various cedars,  Leyland Cypress, or English Laurel are wide trees that either take up space in your yard or require you to actively prune them each year.  Pruning is an expensive and/or time consuming effort that most people don't want to do if they can avoid it.  In contrast, Arborvitae grow to 2-3' in diameter and don't get much bigger around, only taller.  So you don't have to do anything to them.  The only pruning you might ever want to do is light pruning along the top to either give them a uniform height and/or cause them to grow wider to create a solid hedge (see the "Why are Some Emerald Greens Skinny and Some Bushy" section above).

        NOTE:  After you have reviewed this section, please also see the Instant Privacy Photo Gallery for "Before & After" photos of Emerald Green Arborvitae plantings.

What Type of "Maintenance" with the Emerald Green Arborvitae Require?

      Besides any pruning you want to do (previous section), you should consider two "maintenance" items for your Emerald Green Arborvitae:

1.  Clean out dead branches:  These trees tend to accumulate small dead branches and material inside the tree at the bottom.  Each year you should go along your row of trees and clean out the dead material--you can just pull it out with your hands, or some people spray it out with a hose and nozzle.

2.  Spider Mites:--To Spray or Not To Spray:  

            Spider mites are present in the Pacific Northwest , and they can infest Emerald Green Arborvitae.  In the worst case they can kill the trees, particularly if the trees are unhealthy for another reason such as lack of watering.  Spider mites usually appear during the dry time of year.

            The great majority of Emerald Green Arborvitae plantings will not have a problem—an Arborist we work with estimates that only 5% of unsprayed Arborvitae will develop an infestation.  Spider mites can be controlled with preventative spraying (as we do twice a year at the nursery) or after a spider mite infestation has been discovered if you catch it early enough.   

              As a preventative measure, you can spray your trees with a Horticultural Oil during the trees' dormant season--roughly November-April.  This is very effective at preventing problems, and the horticultural oils are very safe.  Try to spray all surfaces of the tree.   If you are spraying because you know you have spider mites, or at a later time, spray with a "miticide" that you can buy at Home Depot, Lowes-- one of our experts recommends using either Safer 3-in-1 Garden Spray, or GardenSafe Garden Spray, which are available at Lowe's or Home Depot.  If you don't use these, be sure you buy a "miticide" and not just an insecticide.

            To test for spider mites: on a dry day put a piece of white paper under some Arborvitae branches and shake vigorously.  You’ll likely get a bunch of “stuff”—dried twigs, small green branches, specks of things, and some bugs.  The bugs that are bigger and move quickly are not a problem—the spider mites are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence and they move very slowly.  You can see them better if you look at them under a magnifying glass. 

By far the biggest problem we’ve encountered is addressed in the next question:

 Should I Water My Emerald Greens?

             Yes, please.  The most common cause of problems with Emerald Green hedges is that they are not watered during their first year.  Newly planted trees (of whatever variety) are very susceptible to drying out that first year before their roots are established.  If Emerald Greens go three days without water on hot summer days they may well die.  If the homeowner waits until they see brown branches, they may have waited too long.  A new hedge needs a soaker hose or some other form of irrigation, preferably on an automatic timer.  As the trees are more established in later years, they will need less or no watering, but the first year it is critical to their success.

             Note that when we do the planting of your Emerald Green Arborvitae we include at no additional cost a custom-cut double soaker hose (one for each side of the tree).  The soaker hose is a very efficient watering system--no evaporation, little wasted water; it won't increase your water bill by much.



Too Late

            If you’re not willing or able to water these trees, go with a wooden fence.

Buying Some Trees

             You have three options:

                1.  Pick-Up.  You can pick up the Emerald Greens at our Snohomish Nursery, and we will load your truck or trailer for no additional charge.  Notice this says "truck or trailer"--these are substantial trees which weigh in at 125 lbs. and up and they don't do well in anything other than a truck or trailer (although, to be honest, we have put six in a mini-van with the seats removed).  Even with a truck or trailer, it may take you more than one trip if you are buying very many trees.  (Loading within your vehicle's weight limit is your responsibility.)

                2.  Delivery.  We can deliver the trees to you.  We deliver throughout Western Washington.  Naturally there is a delivery charge, which is based on how far away from us you are.  If you wish to do your own planting we will give you Planting & Care Instructions; but keep in mind that this is a major physical effort--these are big 100-200 lb. trees that take an effort to move around, and digging holes is tough work.  (Your physical well-being is your responsibility.)

                3.    Delivery and Planting.  The great majority of homeowners have us both deliver and plant their trees.  We charge by the hour for this service.  With Emerald Greens that we plant we include a soaker hose on each side of the row for no additional charge (see "Should I Water My Emerald Greens?" section above).

                Free Estimates:  We are happy to provide you with free, no-obligation estimates for either delivery or delivery & planting.  We also have many past customers who have agreed to act as references for us.   Please don't hesitate to contact us.


        NOTE:  After you have reviewed this section, please also see the "Instant Privacy" Photo Gallery for "Before & After" photos of Emerald Green Arborvitae plantings.

What are Pyramidalis? 

             In the consumer marketplace, there are two major forms of Arborvitae:  Emerald Greens and Pyramidalis.  Actually, that is just barely an accurate statement because Emerald Greens are now so dominant.  But before Emerald Greens were popular--roughly 20-30 years ago--Pyramidalis dominated.  Pyramidalis are somewhat bigger, bushier, and wilder looking.   Most people think Emerald Greens look better—nicer shape and a deeper green that stays all year (Pyramidalis can turn a brownish color at certain times of the year).  Pyrmadalis also can be really damaged by the snow--with branches bending down and breaking, which makes them look terrible.  Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find Pyramidalis in retail stores, although we do carry a limited number of them. 



Delivery & Planting Available

          We deliver and plant these trees.  "Planting" includes a watering system, staking if necessary, and a one year warranty for no additional charge.  Our planting "Service Area" is the greater Puget Sound area of Western Washington: Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett, Edmonds, Mukilteo, Shoreline, Bothell, Seattle & the "East Side"--Bellevue, Woodinville, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish, etc.--Renton, Kent, Federal Way, Tacoma, south to Olympia and all points in between; plus Highway 2 to Leavenworth & Wenatchee.  If you are not in this area, sorry but we will not be able to plant for you.  

        Click Here for more information about our planting services and/or see the "Advantages" section below.   










This Chart helps you easily compare mature sizes, growing conditions, etc.

for all of our privacy trees.








See our Trees Growing in the Fields!




We have a beautiful 8 minute drone video of our Snohomish tree farm

 with many of the trees identified.   Click here






Studies:  Trees Add Value to Property





Privacy Trees:  We are a nursery tree farm specializing in Privacy Trees for screening.  We sell retail & wholesale, for residential and commercial projects and we "deliver & plant" our trees.  Our most common project is planting a line of privacy trees for a homeowner.  We have several thousand privacy trees growing at our Snohomish farm.  Plus we have many years' experience in "what works where", professional planting services, ongoing support, and thousands of satisfied customers.  Buying directly from a grower has great advantages--fresh trees, great selection, and low prices--you maximize your purchasing power.  We also have privacy trees that are not available elsewhere, such as our "Hedged Privacy Trees" and "Thin Man" Arborvitae.  You can see our hedged and natural privacy trees in our beautiful 8 minute YouTube Farm Video.

Ornamental Trees:  We also have a nice selection of Ornamental Trees, with many of our trees being on the "Great Plant Picks" list for the Pacific Northwest.

Delivery & Planting:  We usually deliver & plant our trees for Customers.  Click here for more information.

Free Estimates:  We will help you determine which trees are right for your project, and provide you with free, no-obligation estimates.  This is often accomplished by e-mail and phone, usually first using our online Free Estimate Request Form.  Where necessary, we will send one of our experts out to review the project (no cost or obligation).  More information

Location:  We’re conveniently located just 15 minutes north of Woodinville.  Here's a link to our "Directions" page.  Please also read the next section.

Farm Visits:  We are a working farm not a retail nursery so we don't keep regular retail hours; instead we set up appointments so that we can focus on your project.  This is particularly important during our busy seasons.  Here's a link to more information about why "appointment only" is the best approach.  So please set-up an appointment instead of "just coming out".  Thank you.  (425) 343-2650;

Covid-19 Precautions:  In accordance with the Governor's directives we have made some changes in the way we do things.  For a detailed break-down of these steps please see our "Covid-19 Precautions" webpage.

Payment:  We don’t require any money “up front”—you only pay when the job is completed (unusual exceptions to this are large/special projects or lengthy “holds” on trees).  Be careful of contractors asking for “up front” money; they might not come back!

 Warranty & Support:  When we plant your trees we include staking (if necessary), transplanting fertilizer, and an easy-to-use watering system that hooks into your garden hose.  More information.  We also give a one year Warranty on trees we plant, for no additional charge.  More information   We have a detailed “Care of Your Trees” section of our website, and provide ongoing support--we're available to answer your questions as your new trees grow.  More information 

Customer Service:  We pride ourselves on our Customer Service—real people answering the phone.  We have an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau (their highest rating), are an Angie's List Super Service Award winner, have excellent reviews on Yelp, Google, etc. and a 100% satisfaction rating with eBay. 


Our Business:  We’ve been in business since 1995 and have a dedicated, experienced staff, most of whom have been with us for many years.  See: "About Us" for our history.  We are a registered Washington State contractor (License Number: NURSEL*956J1).  More information   Be sure to hire a registered contractor  --  to go to the Department of Labor & Industries website to check a contractor's registration, click here.  As it says there:  "Unregistered contractors carry no bond or insurance to protect consumers.  Consumers can face serious issues if anything goes wrong on a job."   These liability risks are in addition to fraud, poor workmanship, worthless warranties, etc.  We are fully bonded and insured, of course.

 Customer Satisfaction:  Most important of all is what our customers think of us:

"I am really pleased with your work.  You saved me several thousand dollars, steered me away from trees that wouldn't work, provided healthy and beautiful trees, did a great job planting them, and did everything on time and on schedule.  You can quote me."                                                                          Jo, Vashon Island

"Our privacy bank of trees has done nothing but grow well into maturity.  Our back yard and deck area is totally private and the 10 trees your team planted [in 2005] are rich, leathery and dark green.  We remark on them every day it seems.  Please include me in any of your "Testimonials" as you would be hard pressed to find a more satisfied customer."                                                                                                                  Jim, Port Orchard

"For quality vs. value, your trees are the best landscape purchase I’ve ever made."    Jeff, Seattle

"Michael, I just wanted to pass along a note to tell you how thrilled I am with the trees.  The effect they have brought to our new courtyard in the front of our home here in Seattle has exceeded my expectations!"                                                                Chip Hanauer, Hydroplane Driver--Click Here to see his project.  

"I work in customer service so I know good service when I experience it and you have my top rating.  I would definitely recommend you to anyone who needs new landscaping.  Thanks again.”               Carol, Camano Island

"The [new] trees were a great privacy feature when we sold the last house!  We now have a much larger space we want to talk with you about . . "                                                                                   Katherine, Fall City

“My compliments to your crew.  We’ve had a lot of contractors working on our house recently and we’ve seen the entire range; and your guys were excellent. The trees make things look so much better—I started smiling as soon as I saw them going in."                                                                                    Holly, Queen Anne

"You guys are the best nursery I've ever done business with! And I have dealt with a few. You did what you said you would, on time with attention to detail rarely found. From the beginning of the quote process all the way through to the last detail you made it easy. And you work to ensure that the trees will thrive after planting with detailed advice, a complementary irrigation system, and a website filled with useful information. Most nurseries will just dump off the goods and tell you best of luck, put some water on them. You provide a quality product that sets you apart. Your crew was friendly, polite and operated as a well organized team. I would recommend you without hesitation! Thanks for doing a great job!”                                                                                                   Ryan, Buckley

"We can not believe how beautiful your trees are.  The privacy is unbelievable. If you ever need a testimonial let us know.   Our yard is perfect!  We sit there and say "my oh my”!               Suzanne, Tacoma 

"I don't think I've ever been as happy with something I've purchased."                           Sarah, Sammamish

Many More Testimonials (click here)





Our Convenient Location

20 minutes from I-405/Bothell-Woodinville

View Directions to our location.

Sales by "Appointment Only", please



Serving Washington State Since 1995

13510 Old Snohomish-Monroe Road

Snohomish, WA  98290


(425) 953-5780 fax

Sales by "Appointment Only", please





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