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How to Plant Emerald Green

By Annita Lawson ; Updated September 21, 2017

The emerald green tree (Thuja occidentalis), also called arborvitae, is a pyramid-shaped member of the cypress family. A vibrant green color, its very small leaves are soft to touch. Emerald green grows up to 30 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. This tree makes an excellent addition to your property if you enjoy wildlife, as it provides both shelter and a source of food for many animals. The emerald green tree does best when planted in full sun and rich, well-drained soil.

Remove all grass and weeds from the desired planting location.

Dig a hole twice the diameter and the same depth as the root ball of the emerald green tree. Carefully remove the burlap or other covering from the tree and use your fingers to loosen any compacted roots.

Place the root ball into the hole and carefully arrange the roots so that they are not bunched up.

Pour approximately 1 quart of water into the planting hole. After the water has been absorbed, replace half the soil and press down firmly with your shoe. Add the rest of the loosened soil and press it down once again. Add enough additional water to moisten, but not soak, the top of the soil.

Add a 3 to 4-inch layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and prevent the growth of weeds. Continue to water emerald green whenever the top inch of soil feels dry during the first growing season.

Place three stakes around the tree about 2 feet from the tips of the branches. Use clothesline to anchor the tree to the stakes. Be careful not to tie it too tightly, as the young tree needs to be able to move to develop a sturdy root system. Check often that the stakes aren't causing damage to the tree and remove them when the tree is established, in approximately five months.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic mulch
  • Stakes
  • Clothesline


  • Plant emerald green in spring, after the last frost, or in early fall.
  • Leave 3 feet between each emerald green tree if planting more than one.
  • Emerald green is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8.
  • If the color of the tree begins to fade, sprinkle 1 tbsp. 12-12-12 fertilizer on top of the soil.
  • Emerald green trees do not require regular pruning, but will look best if any dead or damaged branches are removed.