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by carlos


Lavender field bordered by cypress trees

Hi, I have a long straight row of mature 22 year old Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) that creates a nice visual barrier near a property line.

The spacing between each tree is about 10 feet, and the trees are about 40′ high. At this point they’ve lost most of their branches from the ground up to about 8 feet, leaving big gaps that I’d like to fill.

I planted baby Monterey cypress out of 1 gallon containers in the gaps about 5 years ago, but they’ve barely grown an inch.

They look healthy and green, but haven’t grown. To see what’s going on, I dug up two of them and found that their roots haven’t propagated at all, except for a few that went straight down about 8″.

I’m considering digging up all the young ones, putting them in 20 gallon containers in the middle of the field, let them grow for 2 or 3 years, then put them back. Does that sound like it would work?

Comments for fill in the gaps

Jun 09, 2021
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

There is a risk when you dig up plants that aren’t currently showing much growth that you will set them back even more.

If they haven’t grown more than one inch in height in five years, there could be something more going on.

I wonder what your soil is like, for one thing, and also how much root growth there is on the bigger ones. It’s possible that they are so big that they’re stunting the new ones, with too much competition. Established cypress trees have quite invasive roots.

Cypress are famous for not liking to be messed with by pruning, or most likely, being dug up. I suggest you continue to water them (carefully, as they are also prone to get root rot) and monitor the situation.

If you’re going to go the (ill advised) route of disturbing them by digging them up, you might be better to put them directly into the field, not in pots.

As you didn’t include a picture, it’s hard for me to see what’s going on.