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How to Space Hybrid Poplar Trees

By Eulalia Palomo ; Updated September 21, 2017

If you are looking for a tree for shade, privacy or aesthetic appeal, the hybrid poplar is hard to beat. This fast-growing tree reaches a mature height of 30 feet or more in 12 to 15 years. On average, hybrid poplars grow six feet a year so you won’t have to wait long for even a moderate windbreak or privacy fence. Because this tree grows so fast, spacing is important to ensure that your trees will have enough room to spread out without leaving large gaps in between once mature.

Determine your planting site. You will want to check for buried power lines, septic systems or sewer pipes. The hybrid poplar has an invasive root system that will quickly take over the underground area.

Plant hybrid poplars at least 20 to 30 feet from sidewalks, patios and house foundations. The fast-growing root system can quickly crack and undermine these structures.

For a privacy fence, measure out your planting sites at a distance of 20 to 25 feet apart. When the trees reach maturity in 12 to 15 years they will have a canopy of approximately 30 feet. Planting at 20 feet apart will give you a good thick cover without overcrowding.

If you are creating a windbreak, bring the planting sites closer together. A 12- to 15-foot distance between trees will create a tight canopy to slow the force of the wind.


Things You Will Need

  • Information about underground cables and sewer systems
  • Measuring stick


  • Hybrid poplars grow fast and mature quickly, but their life span is short compared to other trees. After 25 to 30 years, hybrid poplars begin to die, so planting other slow-growing trees in between will insure that you will have a long-lasting wind break or privacy fence.
  • The extensive root systems of a hybrid poplar can surface up to 50 feet away from the trunk as the tree reaches maturity. This is a problem if you have a lawn or patio that could become disrupted by the surfacing root system. In most cases you can cut out the root and refill the area with soil or replace the patio stones in that area.
  • If you have a healthy deer population in your area, young trees may suffer extensive nibbling. Until the trees grow above snacking height, you may need to use a cage for your tender saplings.

About the Author


Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.