How To Plant Leyland Cypress [ Full Guide ]

Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a popular evergreen tree known for its rapid growth and dense foliage, making it an excellent choice for creating privacy hedges, windbreaks, or as a striking standalone specimen in the landscape. When planting Leyland cypress, it’s crucial to consider several factors such as location, soil preparation, and irrigation to ensure the tree’s successful establishment and long-term health. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of planting Leyland cypress, ensuring that you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of this majestic tree in your outdoor space.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Leyland Cypress

  1. Choose the right location: Select a site with full sun exposure and sufficient space for the Leyland cypress to grow and spread.
  2. Soil preparation: Test the soil, amend it if necessary, and ensure good drainage.
  3. Planting: Dig a properly sized hole, position the tree, and backfill with soil.
  4. Watering: Provide adequate water during and after planting to promote root establishment.
  5. Mulching and maintenance: Apply mulch to retain moisture and monitor the tree for any signs of stress or disease.

Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these steps to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to plant Leyland cypress effectively.

Choosing The Right Location

Selecting an appropriate location is a critical first step when planting Leyland cypress. These trees thrive in full sun, meaning they require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily. Choose a spot in your landscape that receives ample sunlight throughout the day to promote healthy growth and dense foliage.

Additionally, consider the mature size of the Leyland cypress trees when selecting the planting location. These trees can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet with a spread of 15 to 25 feet at maturity. As a result, it’s essential to plant them in a location where they have ample space to grow without encountering obstructions or crowding other plants or structures.

When planting Leyland cypress for privacy or windbreak purposes, choose a location that aligns with these objectives. Consider the orientation of the prevailing winds and plant the trees to best mitigate wind and provide screening where needed.

It’s also important to ensure that there are no overhead power lines or other obstructions that could interfere with the natural growth of the Leyland cypress. Planning for the long-term growth and development of the trees will help avoid potential issues and the need for future relocations.

Soil Preparation

Before planting Leyland cypress, it’s crucial to assess the soil quality and make any necessary amendments to create an ideal growing environment for the trees.

  1. Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and nutrient content. This information will guide you in making informed decisions about soil amendments.

  2. Amending the Soil: Based on the results of the soil test, amend the soil as needed to optimize the growing conditions for Leyland cypress. This may include adjusting the pH, adding organic matter, or incorporating specific nutrients to address deficiencies.

  3. Improving Drainage: Leyland cypress trees prefer well-draining soil. If the site has poor drainage, consider implementing measures to improve it, such as incorporating organic matter or installing drainage systems.

  4. Soil Texture: Leyland cypress can adapt to a range of soil textures, but they generally perform best in loamy, well-drained soil. If the soil is excessively compacted or heavy, consider incorporating sand or organic matter to improve its texture and structure.

By preparing the soil adequately, you can establish an optimal foundation for the Leyland cypress trees to thrive and flourish.

Irrigation And Drainage

Proper irrigation and drainage are essential for the successful establishment and long-term health of Leyland cypress trees. Adequate moisture is crucial during the initial planting phase and throughout the tree’s life, especially in regions with drier or warmer climates.

  1. Watering During Planting: Provide ample water to the Leyland cypress trees at the time of planting. This helps to settle the soil around the roots and initiates the establishment process.

  2. Establishment Period: During the first year after planting, consistently monitor soil moisture and provide regular irrigation to support root development. While it’s important not to overwater, especially in poorly draining soils, ensure that the trees receive enough moisture to sustain healthy growth.

  3. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the Leyland cypress trees to help retain soil moisture, regulate temperature, and suppress weed growth. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk to prevent any potential issues with excess moisture against the bark.

  4. Regular Watering: While Leyland cypress trees are relatively drought-tolerant once established, it’s important to provide sufficient water during periods of drought or extreme heat, particularly for young or newly planted trees. Deep, infrequent watering is generally more effective in promoting robust root development and overall tree health.

By implementing proper irrigation and drainage practices, you can support the growth and vitality of Leyland cypress trees, ensuring their long-term success in the landscape.

Planting Leyland cypress requires careful consideration of the location, soil preparation, and irrigation practices to promote optimal growth and long-term health. By selecting a suitable planting site, preparing the soil, and ensuring adequate moisture, you can establish a thriving environment for these majestic evergreen trees. Whether you’re using them for privacy screening, windbreaks, or ornamental purposes, Leyland cypress can enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space when planted and cared for properly. With the guidance provided in this article, you can confidently proceed with planting Leyland cypress and enjoy the benefits of these impressive trees in your landscape.

Fertilization And Mulching

Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a popular evergreen tree known for its rapid growth and attractive appearance. It is often used as a hedge or a windbreak due to its dense foliage and ability to tolerate various soil conditions. Planting Leyland cypress can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful consideration and proper techniques.

Before planting Leyland cypress, it is essential to prepare the soil properly to provide the tree with a healthy environment for growth. One crucial step is fertilization. Leyland cypress requires a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer with a ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Ideally, a fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 is suitable for optimum growth.

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Apply the fertilizer to the soil around the planting area, following the package instructions on the recommended dosage. Be cautious not to overfertilize, as excessive nutrients can cause harm to the tree. For best results, it is advisable to conduct a soil test before fertilizing to determine the specific nutrient requirements.

Mulching is another important aspect of Leyland cypress planting. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or pine straw, around the base of the tree. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weed growth, and moderates the soil temperature. Make sure to leave a gap between the mulch and the trunk to prevent moisture accumulation, which can lead to rot.

Plant Selection And Spacing

Choosing healthy and high-quality nursery trees is crucial for the success of Leyland cypress planting. Look for plants with vibrant green foliage, free from any signs of disease or pests. Avoid trees with yellow or brown leaves, as it may indicate poor health or insufficient care.

Consider the mature size of the Leyland cypress when selecting plants. These trees are known for their vigorous growth, reaching heights of up to 70 feet (21 meters) and spreading up to 20 feet (6 meters) wide. Therefore, it is essential to give them enough space to develop fully.

Plan your planting area by considering the mature width of the trees. For hedges or windbreaks, space the Leyland cypress trees about 4 to 8 feet (1.2 to 2.4 meters) apart, depending on the desired density. If you are planting them as individual specimens, allow at least 15 feet (4.6 meters) between each tree. Providing adequate spacing ensures proper air circulation and reduces the risk of diseases.

Planting Techniques

  1. Prepare the planting hole: Start by digging a hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the Leyland cypress tree. Loosen the soil in the hole to allow the roots to penetrate easily.

  2. Remove the container or burlap: If your Leyland cypress is in a container, gently tap the sides to loosen the soil. Carefully slide the tree out of the container while holding the base of the trunk. If the tree has burlap around the root ball, gently cut and remove it before planting. Avoid pulling the tree by the trunk, as this can damage the root system.

  3. Inspect and prune the roots: Before planting, carefully examine the roots of the tree. Trim any damaged or circling roots to encourage healthy growth. It is important to ensure that the roots are spread out and not crowded.

  4. Place the tree in the hole: Lower the Leyland cypress tree into the planting hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Ensure that the tree is vertical and not leaning.

  5. Backfill and firm the soil: Fill the hole with the soil that was previously removed, gently tamping it down to remove any air pockets. Do not compact the soil too firmly, as it can hinder root growth. Water the tree thoroughly after backfilling to help settle the soil.

  6. Watering and maintenance: Water the newly planted Leyland cypress thoroughly after planting. A deep watering will encourage the roots to establish and reduce transplant shock. Continue to water regularly, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.

Staking And Supporting Young Plants

In some cases, Leyland cypress trees may require staking to provide extra support during their early establishment phase. Staking is particularly necessary if the newly planted tree is tall and likely to be affected by strong winds.

Here are some guidelines for staking Leyland cypress:

  1. Install the stakes: Place two sturdy wooden stakes on either side of the tree, ensuring they are outside the root ball area. The stakes should be driven deep into the ground but not so close to the tree that they may cause root damage.

  2. Secure the tree: Use soft or rubberized tree ties to attach the trunk to the stakes. Begin by loosely tying the tree to the stakes, leaving room for the tree to move slightly in the wind. As the tree grows and the root system strengthens, gradually loosen the ties to promote natural trunk development.

  3. Regular monitoring: Regularly inspect the staked tree to ensure the ties are not cutting into the bark. Adjust the ties if necessary and remove them once the tree is firmly established, usually after the first year.

It is important to note that staking should not be a permanent solution. Extended staking can weaken the trunk and restrict natural movement, which is necessary for strong tree development. Remove the stakes as soon as the tree is capable of standing on its own.

Planting Leyland cypress can be a rewarding experience, and by following the proper techniques, you can ensure the success and healthy growth of these trees. Steps like proper fertilization, mulching, and careful plant selection contribute to establishing a strong foundation for the Leyland cypress. Additionally, proper spacing and planting techniques aid in providing sufficient room for growth and establishment. Lastly, when necessary, staking and supporting young plants can help mitigate potential damage caused by strong winds or unstable conditions. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of Leyland cypress trees in your landscape.

Choosing The Right Location

Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii) is a popular evergreen tree that is widely used for creating privacy hedges, windbreaks, and decorative landscapes. Originating from a hybrid cross between Monterey Cypress and Nootka Cypress, Leyland Cypress is known for its fast growth rate, dense foliage, and tolerance to various soil types.

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Before planting Leyland Cypress, it is essential to choose the right location. These trees thrive in full sun to partial shade, so select an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Ensure that the soil is well-drained, as Leyland Cypress does not tolerate waterlogged conditions.

Consider the mature size of the Leyland Cypress trees, as they can grow to a height of 50-70 feet, with a spread of 15-25 feet. Plant them at least 10-15 feet apart to allow for adequate airflow and room for future growth. Additionally, keep in mind the purpose for planting Leyland Cypress, whether it is for privacy screening, windbreaks, or aesthetics.

Soil Preparation

Preparing the soil before planting is crucial for the healthy growth of Leyland Cypress. Begin by removing any existing weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting site. Loosen the soil in a wide planting hole, approximately two times the width of the root ball. This will encourage the roots to spread and establish more quickly.

Leyland Cypress thrives in a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0-7.0. Use a pH testing kit to determine the current pH level of your soil. If necessary, make adjustments by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil quality and structure. Mixing in a slow-release balanced fertilizer, according to the package instructions, can also enhance the nutrient content in the soil.

Planting Process

Follow these steps to ensure proper planting of Leyland Cypress trees:

  1. Dig a hole: Dig a planting hole that is slightly wider and equal in depth to the root ball of the Leyland Cypress tree. The hole should be deep enough so that the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.

  2. Remove the container: If the tree is in a container, carefully remove it, ensuring that the root ball remains intact. If the tree is ball and burlap (B&B), make sure to cut the twine around the trunk and remove the burlap from the top third of the root ball. Leave the burlap on the bottom so that it decomposes naturally.

  3. Place the tree: Gently place the Leyland Cypress tree in the center of the planting hole, ensuring it stands straight. Avoid planting it too deep, as this can suffocate the roots.

  4. Backfill the hole: Backfill the hole with the soil that was previously dug out. Lightly tamp down the soil to eliminate air pockets while being cautious not to compact it too tightly. Water the newly planted tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.

  5. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the tree. This will help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Maintain a distance of 2-3 inches from the trunk to prevent rotting.

  6. Watering: Leyland Cypress trees require regular watering, especially during the establishment period. Water deeply once or twice a week, providing approximately 1 inch of water each time. As the tree establishes, gradually reduce the frequency of watering.

Controlling Pests And Diseases

Leyland Cypress is generally a hardy tree that is resistant to most pests and diseases. However, they can occasionally face issues, especially when grown in unfavorable conditions or stressed environments. Here are some common pests and diseases that may affect Leyland Cypress trees and the methods to control them:

Pest Control

  1. Bagworms: Bagworms are common pests that can defoliate Leyland Cypress trees if left uncontrolled. The larvae construct small bags made of foliage and silk, which they reside in and feed on. To control bagworms, physically remove and destroy the bags during the winter or early spring before the larvae hatch. If the infestation is severe, consider using an insecticide labeled for bagworm control.

  2. Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny insects that feed on the Leyland Cypress foliage, causing yellowing or bronzing of the leaves. Regularly inspect the trees for signs of spider mites, such as fine webbing undersides of the leaves. Use a strong blast of water to dislodge and control them. If necessary, apply an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil following the manufacturer’s instructions.

  3. Cypress Canker: Cypress canker is a fungal disease that causes the dieback of branches, leading to eventual tree decline. Prune out and destroy infected branches, making sure to sterilize the pruning tools in between cuts. Maintaining good tree health by providing proper cultural care can help prevent cypress canker.

Disease Control

  1. Seiridium Canker: Seiridium canker is a common disease that affects Leyland Cypress, causing branch dieback and resinous ooze. To control this disease, remove and destroy infected branches, making sure to disinfect pruning tools afterward. Promote air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent excessive moisture buildup, which can encourage the spread of the disease.

  2. Phytophthora Root Rot: Phytophthora root rot is a soil-borne disease that affects the root system of Leyland Cypress, causing wilted foliage and ultimately tree death. To prevent this disease, ensure well-drained soil and avoid overwatering. Plant Leyland Cypress in areas with good water drainage and avoid planting them too deeply, as it can restrict oxygen flow to the roots.

Pruning And Shaping

Pruning Leyland Cypress trees is essential for maintaining their desired shape, promoting healthy growth, and preventing potential structural issues. Here are some tips for pruning and shaping Leyland Cypress:

  1. Timing: The best time to prune Leyland Cypress is during late winter or early spring before the new growth begins. Avoid pruning in late summer or early fall when the tree is more susceptible to disease.

  2. Branch selection: Start by selecting the main branches that form the tree framework. Consider the tree’s desired growth habit and shape while choosing the main branches. Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches.

  3. Thinning cuts: To maintain the tree’s density and allow better air circulation, make thinning cuts by removing entire branches back to the trunk or parent branches. This selective removal will encourage light penetration and minimize the risk of diseases.

  4. Shearing: If you prefer a formal hedge or shaped tree, consider shearing your Leyland Cypress. Using sharp pruning shears or electric hedge trimmers, shape the sides and top of the tree. However, avoid shearing the tree too frequently, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth on the outer layer, resulting in a thin and unhealthy interior.

  5. Safety precautions: When pruning Leyland Cypress, wear protective gloves and goggles to prevent injury from branches or debris. Use proper pruning tools, such as bypass pruners or loppers, to make clean cuts without damaging the tree.

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Winter Care

Leyland Cypress is generally hardy and can withstand most winter conditions. However, in regions with severe winters, some winter care practices can help protect the trees from potential damage. Here are some tips for winter care:

  1. Watering: Adequate soil moisture is essential for Leyland Cypress trees during winter. Water the trees deeply a few days before the ground freezes to ensure they are well-hydrated. Dry soil can lead to desiccation and stress in the cold season.

  2. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to insulate the roots and protect them from extreme cold temperatures. Maintain a thickness of 2-3 inches, and keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent rotting.

  3. Wrapping: In areas with heavy snowfall or ice accumulation, consider wrapping Leyland Cypress trees with burlap or other protective material. This will shield the thin branches from breakage caused by the weight of snow or ice.

  4. Wind protection: Leyland Cypress trees are susceptible to wind damage, especially in exposed locations. Shielding the trees with windbreaks or constructing barriers can help minimize branch breakage and maintain their structural integrity.

  5. Pruning: Remove any broken or damaged branches after winter to promote new growth and maintain the tree’s shape and health.

Harvesting And Propagation

Leyland Cypress is primarily grown for landscaping purposes rather than for fruit or timber production. However, if you wish to propagate or harvest Leyland Cypress, here are some guidelines:

Harvesting Leyland Cypress

Leyland Cypress is typically not harvested for timber, as it is primarily used for ornamental purposes. However, if you need to remove or cut down an established Leyland Cypress tree, consult with a professional arborist or tree removal service who will safely handle the process.

Propagation Of Leyland Cypress

Leyland Cypress can be propagated through several methods, including cuttings and seed sowing. However, it is essential to note that Leyland Cypress obtained from seed may not exhibit the same characteristics as the parent tree due to genetic variability. For consistent results, vegetative propagation methods like cuttings are widely preferred. Here’s how you can propagate Leyland Cypress:

  1. Softwood cuttings: Take 6-8 inch softwood cuttings from the current season’s growth during late spring to early summer. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Plant the cuttings in a well-draining soil mix and keep them in a warm, humid environment. Mist the cuttings regularly to maintain moisture levels. Roots will develop in a few weeks, and once established, the young plants can be transplanted into individual pots or the desired location.

  2. Hardwood cuttings: During late fall or winter, take 6-8 inch hardwood cuttings from the previous year’s growth. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Plant the cuttings in a well-draining soil mix, burying at least half of the cutting in the soil. Keep the cuttings in a cool, protected area and maintain moisture levels by misting them occasionally. Roots will develop in a few months, and the rooted cuttings can be potted or transplanted.


Planting Leyland Cypress can greatly enhance the aesthetics and privacy of your landscape. By choosing the right location, preparing the soil, and following proper planting techniques, you can ensure the healthy growth and establishment of these beautiful trees. Regular pruning and shaping, along with appropriate pest and disease control measures, will help maintain their health and vigor. With proper care and attention, Leyland Cypress can provide years of beauty and enjoyment in your garden.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Leyland Cypress Trees?

The best time to plant leyland cypress trees is in the early fall or early spring. This allows the trees to establish their root systems before the heat of summer or harsh winter weather.

How Much Spacing Is Needed Between Leyland Cypress Trees When Planting?

Leyland cypress trees should be spaced at least 6 feet apart to allow for proper growth and air circulation. If planting multiple rows, spacing between rows should be at least 10 feet.

Do Leyland Cypress Trees Require A Lot Of Maintenance?

Leyland cypress trees are relatively low maintenance, but they do require some attention. Regular pruning, watering, and fertilizing can help promote healthy growth and prevent diseases.

How Much Water Do Leyland Cypress Trees Need When First Planted?

Newly planted leyland cypress trees need to be watered deeply once or twice a week for the first two years. This helps the roots establish and encourages healthy growth. After two years, the trees will become more drought-tolerant and will only need watering during dry spells.

Can Leyland Cypress Trees Tolerate Different Soil Types?

Leyland cypress trees prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soils. However, they can tolerate a range of soil types as long as they are not constantly wet or waterlogged. If planting in heavy clay soil, it is recommended to amend the soil with compost or sand to improve drainage.