How to Plant & Care For Arborvites


The arborvitae evergreen is a member of the cypress family and is available in tree and shrub varieties. The evergreens have soft and flat scale-like leaves that require little maintenance besides an annual pruning. Arborvitae grows well and prefers the colder climates in USDA growing zones 3 through 7. Arborvitae is commonly planted as hedges for privacy or wind blocks as they are a fast growing ornamental evergreen.

Step 1

Choose a planting location that has a well-draining soil and is slightly elevated along with full sun to partial shade conditions.

Step 2

Test the soil with a home pH test kit prior to planting. Arborvitae trees prefer a soil that is slightly alkaline of 7.0 to 8.0 on the pH scale. Add limestone to the soil to increase the pH if required.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is two to three times as wide as the root ball and slightly deeper. Add compost to the hole prior to putting the root ball into it. Mix compost into the removed soil in equal portions and fill the hole around the root ball. Gently pack the soil in place while filling the hole.

Step 4

Water the tree well after planting to stimulate root growth. Continue to water the tree to keep the soil moist the first two weeks after planting.

Step 5

Fertilize mature trees with annually each spring with a lawn type fertilizer that does not contain weed-killing chemicals.

Step 6

Prune arborvitae trees annually in the fall season to maintain an aesthetically appealing structure and remove dead branches.

Step 7

Propagate arborvitae trees in the fall through seed collection or in spring through cuttings.

Step 8

Cover arborvitae trees and shrubs in winter to prevent ice buildup and damage from foraging animals. Wrap and secure a multi-strand tree netting over the tree and shrub branches and remove promptly in spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Arborvitae tree or shrub
  • pH soil test kit
  • Limestone
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Water
  • Tree pruner
  • Multi-strand tree netting


  • About Arborvitae: Arborvitae
  • Ohio State University: Arborvitae for the Home Landscape
  • Garden Hobbies: Arborvitae
Keywords: planting arborvitae, arborvitae maintenance, growing arborvitae

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.