Leyland Cypress Tree: How To Grow Leyland Cypress Trees

By: Jackie Carroll

Flat stems of feathery, blue-green foliage and ornamental bark combine to make Leyland cypress an appealing choice for medium to large landscapes. Leyland cypress trees grow three feet (1 m.) or more per year, making it an excellent choice for a quick specimen or lawn tree, or a privacy hedge. Information about Leyland cypress will help with growing healthy trees.

Information About Leyland Cypress

Leland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a rare, but successful, hybrid between two different genera: Cupressus and Chamaecyparis. Leyland cypress has a short lifespan for an evergreen tree, surviving for 10 to 20 years. This tall evergreen conifer is grown commercially in the Southeast as a Christmas tree.

The tree grows to a height of 50 to 70 feet (15-20 m.), and although the spread is only 12 to 15 feet (3.5-4.5 m.), it may overwhelm small, residential properties. Therefore, larger areas are most suitable for growing a Leyland cypress tree. The tree is also useful in coastal landscapes where it tolerates salt spray.

How to Grow Leyland Cypress Trees

Leyland cypress trees need a location in full sun or partial shade and a rich, well-drained soil. Avoid windy sites where the tree may be blown over.

Plant the tree so that the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil in a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. Backfill the hole with the soil that you removed from it without amendments. Press down with your foot as you fill the hole to remove any air pockets that may be present.

Leyland Cypress Care

Leyland cypress trees need very little care. Water them deeply during prolonged drought, but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

The tree doesn’t need regular fertilization.

Watch for bagworms and, if possible, remove the bags before the larvae they contain have a chance to emerge.

Growing a Leyland Cypress Pruned Hedge

Its narrow, columnar growth pattern makes Leyland cypress ideal for use as a hedge to screen out unsightly views or protect your privacy. To form a pruned hedge, set out the trees with 3 feet (1 m.) of space between them.

When they reach a height about a foot beyond the desired height of the hedge, top them to about 6 inches (15 cm.) below that height. Prune the shrubs every year in midsummer to maintain the height and shape the hedge. Pruning during damp weather, however, can lead to disease.

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Reconsider Planting Leyland Cypress in Your Yard

Steve Nix is a member of the Society of American Foresters and a former forest resources analyst for the state of Alabama.

Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Images

The rapidly-growing Leyland cypress tree, or Cupressocyparis leylandii, quickly outgrows its space in a typical yard, unless properly and regularly trimmed. These trees have the potential to grow to 60 feet tall. They are not a practical tree to plant as a small yard hedge on tight, six- to eight-foot centers. Tight spacing of the plant means that you must commit major time and effort to constant pruning.

Leyland cypress is a short-lived conifer, with a typical lifespan of 20 to 25 years, and will eventually have to be removed. Even properly-spaced trees left to grow may have limited root support, and are subject to being blown down during high winds if planted on wet soils. Consider the work needed to maintain a Leyland cypress before planting one.

When to plant Leyland cypress

You can plant your tree in fall or spring. The most important thing is to avoid planting this evergreen in the heat of summer.

How far apart to plant Leyland cypress trees

If you’re creating a privacy screen, space your trees out about 15 feet apart. That way, their roots won’t get in the way of each other as the trees grow and establish.

How much water does Leyland cypress need?

For a newly planted Leyland cypress tree, 4 to 10 gallons of water per week is a starting point. But if you want to get a better idea of how much water your specific tree needs, the answer is in the soil.

Dig into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil and gauge the amount of moisture. Well-watered trees will have moist soil, while thirsty trees will have soil that’s dry to the touch.

Check out this blog post for more guidance on how much water to give your new tree.

Lemon Cypress Care

One of the great things about C. macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’ is that it is an easy plant to care for in the outdoors. The only maintenance required will be some pruning if you want to keep its size down or yearly trimming if using it as a hedge.


Whether planning to keep the lemon cypress outdoors or as an indoor plant, it requires a good amount of light. It will thrive in full sun to partial shade outdoors or direct sun indoors five to six hours a day. If keeping the plant as a houseplant, too little light will quickly kill the plant.

Planting this tree in soil that is too rich invites trouble. The lemon cypress is adapted to grow in poor, sandy, well-draining soils that are low in organics and not very fertile. This infertile soil allows the slow-growing tree to pace its development to match its height with its roots, helping to ensure that winds do not blow the thin and narrow plant over.

If keeping the lemon cypress in a container, it should be repotted once every three to four years. Move it to a larger pot and give it some fresh soil. Prune your plant’s roots conservatively to keep growth in check while repotting.


As an outdoor shrub or tree, once established, the lemon cypress needs little supplemental watering. To allow the plant to establish itself, water once a week during the first season.

If kept as a houseplant, be sure to give a thorough deep watering once weekly, being sure never to let the soil be too dry.

Temperature and Humidity

A lemon cypress prefers cool, moist climates. Temperatures above 80 o F in dry areas will tax the plant, while temperatures lower than 20 o F may cause tree damage or death. In colder climates, it is best to shelter the tree from cold winds, which will burn the needles. The recommended USDA Zones are 7-10.

When used as a houseplant, the lemon cypress needs to be kept in a place that has sufficient humidity. Keeping it moist during the winter is vital and will be most difficult when a heater is being run or windows are shut. Misting or a humidifier might be needed to help supplement the ambient room humidity.


Fertilizing this shrub is not suggested. The lemon cypress is adapted to thrive in poor, infertile soil conditions. Rich soils will cause quick, uneven growth and could result in the tree being unstable the tree.

Leyland Cypress Tree Care

Prune your Leyland Cypress tree when young to encourage stronger growth and to minimize snow and ice damage. Regular fertilization, watering and pruning helps keep trees healthy and better able to tolerate stress and insect and disease conditions.

Newly planted trees benefit from ArborKelp®, SavATree’s exclusive seaweed biostimulant which aids in tree establishment, promotes root growth and heightens stress tolerance.

Mature and established Leyland Cypress trees benefit from fertilizer feedings of organic-based macro and micronutrients for the nutrition necessary to sustain their health.

If you have any needs or questions, please leave a message, and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

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