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Norway, White, and Blue Spruce for Screening and Privacy
Nothing says screening, privacy, and windbreak better than a conifer and spruce trees are probably the most popular conifer in such applications. Spruce trees are thick, wide, and branched to the ground making them as good as a wall when it comes to privacy. This barrier is also a natural snow fence, protection from wind, and lessens any noise coming from the other side (such as a highway).
And, of course, they look good on the landscape, they're relatively cheap, benefit wildlife, and have very little maintenance compared to high wall fences and other man-made barriers.
We grow Norway, white, and blue spruce exclusively. Here is our recommendation for using those three in hedgerow applications. This is assuming you want a thick screen where the tree branches eventually touch one another. If you do not need your trees touching each other then you can simply space them wider than what we recommend below.
Norway Spruce in Hedgerows
Norway spruce is the most popular spruce tree for hedgerows. In fact, Norway spruce may be the most popular screening and privacy choice of all conifers in the eastern United States. Along freeways and property borders you will often see conifers that are long and lengthy - with pointed tops - and drooping branches. These are Norway spruce. They are not hard to find.
Norway grow very fast by conifer standards and spread to a width of 30 - 40'. Their long central branches protrude evenly from the trunk and can extend 15 - 20' on each side of the tree with secondary branches that droop down (like curtains) covering all the visible space to the next branch below.
Norway spruce placed in two rows and spaced 12' apart will grow together for a thick screen in just a few years. If you do not have the space for two rows then we would still recommend a 12' spacing in a one row application. Your Norway spruce will grow horizontally until their branches come up against the tree next to it. Given the fact that Norway spruce can grow 30 - 40' wide, it will only take a few years before you have branches touching one another in a 12' spacing.
White Spruce in Hedgerows
With a medium growth rate (12 - 18" per year), white spruce is not a bad choice for hedgerows. White spruce may be your only choice if your desired hedgerow location is partially shaded throughout the day as white spruce will grow fairly well in partially shaded areas.
White spruce is thick with shuffled branches that grow tight to the ground. Unlike a Norway, they do not need dropping branches from above to cover the spaces between their branches because they grow slower and keep a fuller shape along the way.
The only thing to keep in mind is that white spruce is columnar in shape. White spruce will have a mature width of only 10 - 20'. In two staggered rows they can still be placed 12' apart. However; if you have only have room for one row then we would recommend 9' apart given their columnar shape. This will ensure that their branches will grow together in the years to come creating a thick screen.
Blue Spruce in Hedgerows
Blue spruce can also be used for a screen if the trees are spaced at least 15' apart, whether you use two rows or one row. We do not recommend planting them any closer than that. Be prepared to wait many years before they provide the depth of screening you may desire.
Blue spruce is slow growing. They are only going to put on about 12" per year. A screen made of blue spruce may take many years before it achieves its intended purpose.
Blue spruce can grow up to 30' wide and stay more height/width proportionate than the Norway or the white. They do not like crowding. If you have ever seen a tight hedgerow that was formed with blue spruce you will notice the trees may look ragged with dropping branches. The trees are often crooked as well. They simply are not a tree that rapidly gets taller than wider. They stay more proportionate.
Using blue spruce in tight hedgerows is really robbing them of their destiny. They are ornamental trees that like a lot of space and a lot of sun.