The thuja hedge will of course serve to delimit the garden, which means that the choice of location is already somewhat limited. In addition, however, the tree of life needs sun or just light shade in order to thrive and stay green. If the plants are too dark, the thuja hedge will appear yellowish-brown and holey instead.
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Simple garden soil that retains moisture well is sufficient as a substrate. So it shouldn’t be too sandy. It is advantageous to add peat waste, humus or some rotted compost to the substrate. This mixture provides the necessary nutrients and also ensures that the roots grow faster and more vigorously.
Tips for planting the thuja hedge
In addition to a sufficiently high nutrient content, the roots of the tree of life also need air, so it is advisable to dig up the ground. For planting, holes should be dug that are at least twice as large in scope and depth as the root ball. The planting hole is lined with peat waste, compost or humus.
The thuja plant is used in such a way that the roots sit about five centimeters below the surface of the soil. First it is covered with a thin layer of substrate and then delimited at the top with a further five centimeters of bark mulch.
Immediately after planting the thuja hedge, it should be watered abundantly. This over-watering should continue for the next three weeks, even if it rains.
The optimal time to plant is in late spring or early summer, after the last frost. However, it is also possible to create the hedge later. Early autumn, before the onset of frost, is suitable. Even then, the plants usually still have enough time to grow and prepare for winter.
In order to quickly obtain a dense thuja hedge, it is of course tempting to plant the individual plants very close to one another. However, this will quickly prove to be a mistake. If the trees of life are too dense, they receive too few nutrients and cannot spread unhindered. Within a few months they would be competing with each other.
It is therefore better to keep a distance of about 40 centimeters. As a result, the hedge may have gaps at the beginning, but these will close very quickly if properly cared for.
Caring for the thuja hedge is straightforward, but it does require regularity.
This includes watering, targeted fertilization and, if desired, also a blending.
As already mentioned above, the thuja hedge is dependent on abundant and frequent watering, especially in the first time after planting. Therefore, it is not enough to rely on the rain.
Once they have grown, the plants take care of themselves when there is enough rain. However, in dry and very hot phases they have to be watered as well.
However, if you applied a thick layer of bark mulch when planting, you will not have to use the watering can too often. Because the mulch stores moisture on the one hand and reduces evaporation on the other. In addition, the layer prevents weeds from spreading along the tree disc and competing with the trees of life.
Annual fertilization accelerates growth, strengthens the plants and is an ideal preparation for winter.
Ideally, fertilization takes place in midsummer and is followed by a large amount of water. Commercially available hedge fertilizers, which are rich in magnesium and nitrogen, are suitable. If fertilization was forgotten in summer, it should not be made up in autumn. Because adding the nutrients too late would prevent the thuja hedge from being able to prepare for the resting phase in winter.
Basically, the thuja hedge can be cut all year round, with the exception of frost periods. However, it is only really cheap to carry out this measure at two points in time.
In spring, before the first budding begins, and in late summer. You should proceed very gently and carefully. The following tips will help you pay attention to the most important points.
- When cutting the thuja hedge, only cut young shoots
- Remove only a few centimeters at a time
- Keep the hedge wide at the bottom and taper towards the top
- Make sure that it is shortened evenly
- If possible, use a taut thread as a guide
The cautious shortening is particularly important with the thuja hedge, as holes once created – as they will inevitably arise with too radical cutting – can only be closed with difficulty or not at all. For this reason, caution should also be exercised when removing brown twigs. So it is much better to cut only a little twice a year than to remove a lot once.
The shape, which tapers towards the top, is decisive for three reasons. If the tips are narrower, they allow more sunlight and water to reach the lower areas. This reduces the risk of brown discoloration. At the same time, hardly any snow can accumulate on the peaks, which in turn reduces the risk of breaks in the thuja hedge.
Protection of the interfaces
The thuja hedge is tough and robust in itself, but its fresh interfaces are not. Exposure to the sun can burn them up in no time, leaving the plants with an unsightly brown surface.
Therefore, not only the right time of year is crucial, but also the current weather. It is best to choose a cloudy day and water the hedge well immediately afterwards.If you can’t wait until the lighting conditions are optimal, you can use a little trick. To do this, it is primarily necessary to cut quickly. An electric or petrol-powered hedge trimmer is ideal for this. Once an area has been shaped, it should be covered with garden fleece. This provides shade and prevents evaporation at the interfaces. This gives the thuja hedge the opportunity to close the cuts.
The fleece can remain on the hedge for up to two days if the sun is continuously exposed to strong sunlight. Covering for longer is not recommended, however, as heat can build up under the fleece. Normally, it can be removed again on the day of cutting when it gets dark.
By the way: other materials, such as foil, are not suitable as a protective cover. Because under them, the heat and radiation may be increased.
Care of the tree grate
Especially shortly after planting, but even after several years of standing, weeds can become dangerous competition for the trees of life. Therefore, special attention should be paid to them. If they are found in the immediate vicinity of the hedge, they must be removed immediately.
If you want to waste as little time and energy as possible on this, you can turn to bark mulch. A thick layer of this usually prevents it from spreading very effectively and also makes it easier to remove.
Protection in winter
Thuja hedges are hardy and therefore do not need any further protection in the cold season. However, it can happen that the hedge turns brown or completely brown as the days get shorter. If this happens reasonably evenly, the color change is not a cause for concern. Instead, it is a natural form of adaptation.
How strong the discoloration is depends on the variety selected.
If you want to have a green thuja hedge in your garden even in winter, you should use the cultivated form emerald.
Typical diseases and pests
Basically, the tree of life is a robust plant that, with proper care, does not fall prey to disease or pests.
Infestation can occur even in healthy arborvitae, but this is limited by itself. If there is a plague of pests or severe diseases, you should always take a look at the location, watering behavior and soil quality. If the error is found, this prevents further illnesses and damage. Typical pests and diseases of a thuja hedge are:
- Thuja bark beetle
- Thuja leaf miners caterpillars
- Mushrooms, such as didymascella and kabatina thujae
An infestation with the insects mentioned shows up in dying twigs and shoot tips, which initially turn brown and show signs of eating or thickening. However, those who cut regularly do not have to fear them. Because just removing the shoots robs the pests of their nutritional basis.
The fungi mentioned show up in spots or spots, which can be brownish or even black. Around May, the spore beds break open and spread the fungus not only on the thuja hedge, but in the whole area. Timely pruning is therefore also a decisive countermeasure here.
If the removal of the affected parts does not help, appropriate means from the trade can be used.
In the long term, however, an effective countermeasure is only optimal maintenance. Because healthy, strong trees of life that have sufficient water and nutrients and are also regularly cut are far less likely to be attacked by pests or diseases.
Is the thuja hedge poisonous?
As beautiful as the tree of life is, it is not harmless. Even slight contact with cuts or breaks and the sap that escapes from them can irritate the skin, cause vomiting, diarrhea or organ damage.
The effects are even more significant when parts of the plant are consumed. If children and animals play in the garden, it is better to choose non-hazardous hedge plants.
The thuja hedge is a very fast growing and dense privacy screen that only requires simple maintenance and is therefore also well suited for newbies to gardening. Under optimal conditions it is less susceptible and quickly develops into an imposing border. Due to its toxicity, however, some caution is required when handling.