Caring For Leyland Cypress

For large, bushy evergreens which make excellent screen plantings, not many trees make better choices than Leyland cypress (X Cupressocyparis leylandii). The most popular Christmas tree in the South East, the Leyland Cypress tree is dark green-gray in color and produces very little aroma. This sterile hybrid is classified as an evergreen tree and as conifers and results from a cross between the Alaskan cedar and Monterey cypress. Noted for their rapid growth and slender form, the Leyland cypress tree has found wide popularity over a wide range of the United States and is produced in large numbers for various uses. Flat stems of feathery, blue green foliage as well as the ornamental bark combine to make this hybrid an alluring choice for medium to large landscapes. Many homeowners use this emerald evergreen in Christmas tree plantations, for privacy hedges along boundary lines and in wind breaks. It also beautifies the landscape in parks, around homes and across campuses. Because it’s not in the Fir or Pine family, it doesn’t produce sap, so that people with an allergy to sap get to still enjoy a Leyland cypress as their Christmas Tree. Information about the Leyland cypress will help with raising healthy trees.



Leyland cypress trees grow well in a wide variety of climate conditions and soils and are usually available at choose-and-cut tree farms only. This tree enjoys both part sun/part shade and full sun and has very forgiving light requirements. A fast growing evergreen tree when young that is able to attain a height of 50-feet at maturity, it can grow 3 feet or more per year, even on poor soils. The tree will quickly outgrow its space in small landscapes and can be too large for most residential landscapes unless trimmed on a regular basis. Unusually, shallow roots of this tree species can give in wet soil and topple large trees. Caring for Leyland cypress correctly will eventually pays off, especially since these trees can live 150 years.


When planting Leyland cypress, bear in mind the tree’s fast growth rate and mature size as you determine spacing. Roots should be spread out evenly in all directions, which will mean that the planting rate is less than with some other tree species. The spacing will depend on the age to which the tree is to be grown and usually ranges from 4-feet to 8-feet between trees. Weed control is also important in Christmas tree plantings, though care must be exercised because Leyland cypress is especially sensitive to glyphosate (such as Round Up-reg.) as well as other herbicides designed to control broadleaf plants. Leyland cypress needs fertile soil in order to perform well. Regular fertilization, watering and pruning will help keep trees healthier and better able to tolerate stress as well as insect and disease conditions. Newly planted trees benefit from ArborKelp®, an exclusive seaweed biostimulant which helps in tree establishment, heightens stress tolerance and promotes root growth. Mature and established Leyland Cypress benefits from fertilizer feedings of organic-based micro and macronutrients for the nutrition essential to sustain their health.

Although Leyland cypress can be grown free-form, it does well trimmed and pruned into a more formal shape. Being a fast-grower it could get out of hand as a hedge that can outgrow a small surrounding and form if not pruned early on. Pruning is recommended so as to preserve or improve tree structure, lifespan and vigor. Prune your Leyland Cypress when young in order to encourage stronger growth and also to minimize snow and ice damage. If left unpruned, Leyland cypress takes on a tall, broad based, pyramidal shape. Topping and regular trimming of the tree sides should prevent it from becoming increasingly large. Pruning can also reduce certain defects or structural issues in a tree and greatly lessen the risk of failure.


More Care

Broken, diseased, or dead branches are usually removed so as to prevent decay-producing fungi from contaminating the wood in other parts of the tree. Removal of live branches is sometimes necessary to allow increased sunlight exposure and circulation of air within the canopy thereby helping in reduction of certain diseases. It is advisable to remove branch stubs so as to promote proper and successful healing over of wounds.There are several damaging pests and diseases that affect these Leyland Cypress. Some of the most common include Seiridium Canker, Cercospora Needle Blight and Botryosphaeria Canker. Also watch for bagworms and, if possible, take away the bags before the larvae contained in them have a chance to emerge. Infestations of cypress aphid can be rather damaging, leading to widespread areas of brown. Don’t allow these pests or diseases destroy your precious Leyland trees. Sanitize pruning tools between every cut by dipping in a solution of chlorine bleach or in rubbing alcohol and water. Chemical control proves to be difficult. To avoid brown patches, hedge trimming needs to be done during the growing season and hedges shouldn’t be cut into older, leafless growth.

Planting Leyland Cypress Trees


Leyland Cypress trees are fast-growing, coniferous, ever-green plants that are popularly used for windbreaks, hedges and screens. They have ability to grow to heights of up to 50 feet in a span of 16 years.
The trees require a lot of sunlight because of their fast growth. They are capable of tolerating high levels of salt spray and pollution.
Leyland Cypress trees are fast-growing, natural hybrids that can thrive in different types of soil. The trees are often planted in gardens to offer shelter hedges or quick boundaries.

Even though they are popularly used for screening, experts claim that they are rarely planted to form forests.
According to scientists, Leyland Cypress trees have relatively shallow roots, and that’s why they often topple over whenever they become too tall.
Their growth is generally poor in areas that experience extremely hot summers, and this is because of their shallow roots. In such areas, they are often affected by Seiridium Canker disease (caused by a fungus; Seiridium Cardinate).
When grown in regions that experience heavy snowing, snow often breaks their branches or even uproots whole trees.
Scientifically, they are classified as follows: Kingdom-Plantae, Division- Pinophyta, Class- Pinopsida, Order- Pinales, Family- Cupressaceae, Genus- Cupressus, and Species- Leylandii.

Their scientific name is therefore Cupressus Leylandii.


Planting Leyland Cypress trees


Fully grown Leyland Cypress trees can extend to heights of up to fifty feet while forming canopies that spread out to approximately twenty-five feet. If you need a taller hedge, windbreak or screen, then you should plant them at least twenty-five feet apart.
If you specifically need a hedge of average height, then the recommended spacing is between eight and ten feet. The space in between will fill up after a few years.

Planting instructions

The following instructions should be followed when planting Leyland Cypress trees;
1. Select an area that has as much sunlight as possible.
2. Plant them at least 25 feet apart (if you want them to become extremely tall and wide). If you want them to grow into mature trees of average height, then leave spaces of about 9 feet between each of them.
3. Carefully remove the plants from their original containers (usually small paper bags).
4. When digging holes, their sizes should be proportionate to the size of roots. Ideally, holes should be twice as large as the root bundles.
5. Get rid of any weeds or grass around the holes.
6. Loosen soil bundles around the roots.
7. When placing them into their respective holes, the top -of root bundles should be 0.24 inches below the ground-surface.
8. Mulch them with about 3 inches of pulverized bark or compost.


Regularly water your trees with sufficient water. The further the water goes, the healthier your trees will be. Continue doing this consistently for about two months. The soil should always be moist (not soggy).

Rate of growth

They are rapidly growing conifers that have ability to grow by up to three feet every 12 months. Their fast growth makes them suitable for forming windbreaks, hedges, and production of Christmas trees. Generally, they can be planted at any time of the year.

Application of fertilizer

Ideally, you should apply fertilizer that is normally used on young trees and herbs to enhance their growth. If a soil test determines that your soil is deficient in certain nutrients, then you should apply nutrient-specific fertilizer.

Control of weeds

Apart from applying fertilizer and regular watering, it’s equally important to control weeds. This can be done by manually uprooting them during weeding.
Control of weeds is important because they (weeds) offer unhealthy competition to your Leyland Cypress trees with regard to moisture, nutrients and access to sunlight.

Control of pests and diseases

Leyland Cypress trees are often affected by one or more of the following diseases; Seiridium Canker/ Stem Canker, Cercospridium Blight and Phytophthora.
Seiridium Canker is a dangerous disease that causes gradual death of branches or whole trees, while Cercospridium Blight often affects plants that have been exposed to over-shearing, excessive sunlight, drought and/or inadequate fertilizer.
Phytophthora is equally dangerous. It’s caused by poor drainage and results in death of plants’ roots.
Pests and diseases can be controlled by applying insecticides and drugs prescribed by agricultural experts.

Pruning: generally, Leyland Cypress trees need very little pruning, especially if they’re being nurtured to form windbreaks or screens. If you are using them as a hedge, then you should consider pruning them regularly so that they don’t become too tall.

Reproduction: they can be reproduced by obtaining cuttings from mature trees and then transferring the cuttings to nurseries where they are encouraged to grow by providing optimum conditions.

Leyland Cypress Overview

Commonly known as Leylandii, Leyland cypress is a fast growing coniferous evergreen tree that is widely used in horticulture primarily for hedges and screens. On a good soil Leyland cypress can grow 3- 4 feet per year and on poor soil, it reach a height of 50 feet. When left unpruned, this tree usually form a dense oval outline. Within a very short period of time, this tree can easily outgrow is space especially if planted on small landscapes and in most cases, this tree is usually too big for most residential landscapes unless they are pruned on a regular basis.




  • Planting site.
    Before planting Leyland cypress, the first very crucial thing that you need to do is to identify the ideal location that will enable the tree to grow smoothly and fast. When choosing the planting site, there are several things that you need to consider. First you need to consider the soil. Leyland cypress perform well when planted on a well-drained soil. The planting site also needs to be well exposed to sunlight. In addition to that, the planting site should be away from buildings and electricity lines.
  • Planting hole.
    The planting hole of Leyland cypress should actually be twice the width of the root ball. The space between two successive rows should be 10-12 feet apart.
  • Transfer from nursery.
    After planting is hole is will dug and well-spaced, the next step is to remove the cypress from the nursery container and relocate it in the planting hole. Gently set the root ball into the planning and ensure that the top of the root ball is about 1 inch above the ground surface. Fill the planning hole with soid then water the tree.

· As Christmas tree
Leyland cypress is an excellent choice for a living Christmas tree. It’s conical shaped combined with evergreen branches and tallness makes it the perfects tree for Christmas.
· Privacy screen
The Leyland cypress is widely used as quick growing hedge. Plant them 4-10 feet apart depending on the results that you wish to achieve.
· Building materials
This tree can also be used as a building material. This tree is not only durable but it is also lightweight, a features that has made it to be used widely in making boats, wood joints and roofing shingles.
· Furniture
Leyland cypress are widely used to build furniture because they are lightweight and durable. Leyland cypress wood is usually used in similar way to bed frames and cedar for chest.

Just like any other tress, Leyland cypress is also susceptible to certain diseases. There are four main types of diseases that may affect this tree. They include
· Seridium canker
It affects branches of the tree and may cause the entire tree causing it to die. The good news is that this disease can prevented or eliminated by applying a mixture daconil and zerotol.
· Cercosporidium blight
Cercosporidium blight is a very aggressive fungi that attacks the trees that have been stressed as a result of shearing, lack of fertilizer, hot sun or drought.
· Phytopthora
This disease usually affect Leyland cypress either if the tree has been over watered or if it has poor drainage.
· Botryosphaeria canker.
This disease is similar to Seridium canker and it affects the tree branches causing the entire branch to die.

Leyland cypress is a fast grower and if not pruned early, it can easy get out of hand as hedge. It therefore need to be pruned on a regular basis to help it maintain its shaped and also to prevent it from growing out control. When the tree is one year old, start trimming the side. Continue trimming the sides the following year to encourage denser growth. Regular trimming and topping is very important because it helps to prevent the tree from becoming extremely large.

When searching for Leyland cypress fertilizer, there are various factors that you need to consider. First you need to ensure that you buy a slow release fertilizer. Secondly, you need to consider the formula used to make the fertilizer. When choosing a fertilizer for this tree, experts recommend that that you should a fertilizer that has high nitrogen concentration. To get the best result from fertilizers, ensure that you follow all instructions.