Tall, stately cedar trees are not frequently seen in residential gardens because of their size. Nonetheless, they make an excellent windbreak or hedge, so it’s not unusual to see cedar trees in larger yards.
Several cedar varieties are available, including the California incense cedar, or Calocedrus decurrens, and the Western red cedar, or Thuja plicata. Some gardeners prefer the Eastern red cedar, or Juniperus virginiana.
California incense cedar can grow in climate zones five through eight, has dense, upright needles and may grow to as tall as 200 feet. Western red cedar is a type of arborvitae that grows slowly but may reach heights similar to that of the California incense cedar. Instead of needles, it has scale-like leaves. Eastern red cedar can be grown in zones two through nine, and it may reach a maximum height of about 60 feet. Its leaves may be anywhere from dark green to bluish.
Regardless of the variety, all cedar trees are coniferous, upright, evergreen trees, which means that they provide color in the garden all year.
Cedar trees tend to be easy to grow, and most varieties grow quickly. When planting a cedar, choose a sunny location with plenty of room since these trees get large. Make sure to plant multiple trees at least five feet apart.
Dig a hole that is about three times the size of the root ball, and mix some compost into the soil in the hole. Cedar trees generally do not need fertilizer unless the soil is quite poor. Use compost to enrich the soil, and if things do not improve, try 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Young cedar trees may need to be staked to help them remain upright. Add an approximately two-inch layer of mulch around the tree, taking care to not allow the mulch to contact the trunk. Mulch helps with water retention.
During the summer, water cedar trees regularly, but give them a chance to fully dry out between watering.
At maturity, cedar trees require little care beyond mulching and the removal of dead branches.
Cedar trees are large, provide lots of shade and remove a great deal of water from the ground. All of these characteristics mean that it’s wise to be particular about companion plants. Certain groundcovers like periwinkle and lily-of-the-valley may thrive. Similarly, ferns, Heuchera and Tiarella don’t mind being in the shade and do well with less water.