I'm wondering about using a Leyland Cypress near my fenced property line. Can you suggest a proper distance from the fence and spacing? Also, I live in a very windy area, and a neighbor of mine has had a couple of these trees partially blow over. I've read conflicting things about their ability to withstand strong winds, so am concerned about this. Would it help to keep them trimmed / headed to avoid wind damage?
Answer: Dear Tim,
I wouldn't advise anyone to plant Leyland Cypress because it's so boring and expected....I know, because they line my driveway (my only excuse is they were there when I moved in; I'm interspersing other trees and shrubs to make the hedge a little more interesting). But since I'm so prejudiced against them, I took your question to an astute consulting arborist friend, Sue Nicol (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here's Sue's answer:
"Leyland Cypress is a hybrid, with hybrid vigor, and therefore grows quickly. It is susceptible to a number of diseases, so I don’t recommend it. If he really wants one, I would plant it at least 10 feet from the property line. There is no reason to think that an otherwise healthy Leyland Cypress will fall over in a wind storm any more than other conifers. The ability of a healthy tree to withstand strong winds depends on a number of factors, including soil drainage and whether there are girdling roots near the base of the trunk. If the root system is circling inside the container and he doesn’t fix that at planting time, then the tree is likely to develop girdling roots which can prevent a root system from adequately anchoring the tree in the ground."
(Now here's the best part - a good alternative to the ubiquitous Leyland cypress:) "I think a better conifer for urban yards is Western Red Cedar. I suggest the cultivar 'Virescens'. It is narrower and shorter than the species. All Western Red Cedars need occasional summer water since they naturally grow in moist soils. He should water deeply but infrequently during the hot dry months."
So there's your expert opinion....good luck with your decision...