Planting Emerald Cedars in Ontario: Choosing the Right Spot and Ensuring Success


Emerald cedars (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd') are a popular choice for homeowners in Ontario looking to add greenery, privacy, and elegance to their landscapes. To ensure these beautiful evergreens thrive and flourish in your garden, it's crucial to choose the right spot and plant them correctly. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of selecting the ideal location, addressing drainage concerns, determining the right quantity, and providing step-by-step instructions for planting emerald cedars in Ontario.

Selecting the Perfect Spot:

Emerald cedars are sun-loving plants, and while they can tolerate partial sun, they thrive when planted in full sun. Here's what you need to consider when choosing the ideal location:

  1. Sunlight: Aim for a spot that receives 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. This will ensure that your cedars grow vigorously and maintain their lush green foliage. Note: Cedars can tolerate partial shade and thrive in the area but it can effect the trees growth rate.

  2. Soil Drainage: Emerald cedars prefer well-draining soil. If you notice poor drainage or standing water in the area you plan to plant them, you should take steps to improve the drainage, as waterlogged roots can lead to health issues for your cedars.

  3. Future Goals: Consider your privacy goals and how quickly you want to achieve them. The spacing between your cedars will impact their growth and appearance:

    • 2ft spacing: Hedge - The trees will be almost touching from the start and will grow into a solid hedge quickly.
    • 2.5ft spacing: Privacy screen - The trees will give you instant privacy, there will be some gaps in between the trees to start. These gaps will fill in and form a hedge in the future. 
    • 3ft spacing: Full Coverage at Maturity - There will be large gaps to start, at maturity the trees will be touching and will make a privacy screen.
    • 4ft spacing: Stand Alone - Large gaps between the trees, at maturity the trees will not be touching and will still maintain a stand alone appearance.

To determine how many cedars you need, calculate the total linear feet you want to cover and divide it by your desired spacing.

Planting Your Emerald Cedars:

Now that you've selected the perfect spot and determined the quantity needed, it's time to plant your emerald cedars correctly. Follow these steps for a successful planting process:

  1. Dig the Hole: Dig a hole wider than the root ball and to the depth of the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level with the top of the ground.

  2. Retain Burlap and String: You can keep the root ball's burlap and string intact when planting. This method helps keep the roots in place and is highly effective for establishing your cedars in their new home.

  3. Fertilize: Add a small handful of bonemeal fertilizer to the hole. Bonemeal is an excellent starter fertilizer that promotes root growth and helps your cedars adapt to their new environment.

  4. Backfill and Compact Soil: When backfilling the hole, ensure the soil is compacted gently but firmly. This will prevent the tree from tilting before the roots have a chance to establish themselves. If the tree does tilt, simply straighten it and compact the soil again.

  5. Post-Planting Care: It's normal for emerald cedars to develop a few brown patches weeks after planting. This is a part of the transplanting process. To address this, you can prune off the brown patches to encourage healthier growth.

Planting emerald cedars in Ontario can be a rewarding experience, enhancing your landscape with beauty and privacy. By selecting the right spot, addressing drainage concerns, choosing the appropriate spacing, and following our step-by-step planting guide, you'll ensure the success and long-term health of your emerald cedars. Enjoy the vibrant greenery and privacy these magnificent trees bring to your outdoor space!