Depth of the Root System of Leyland Cypress

Updated June 04, 2018

Tall trees don't always have deep roots. The Leyland cypress is a soaring evergreen -- a cross between a Pacific cypress and an Alaskan cedar -- that can rise to 120 feet if not topped. Its roots are surprisingly shallow.


The Leyland cypess is an evergreen with feathery foliage ranging from dark green to blue-green. If left untrimmed, the tree forms a tall, slender pyramid. Its shallow root system causes poor drainage leading to root rot.

Growing Conditions

This evergreen grows best and stays healthiest in full sun, although it accepts a high canopy of shade. Almost any type of soil is acceptable as long as it is well-drained. Stagnant soils create additional canker problems for the tree's shallow roots.


The Leyland cypress is a good choice for homeowners seeking privacy screens. However, few gardeners allow proper spacing for the tree whose natural width is 12 to 20 feet. Crowded growing conditions, together with the tree's surface root system, can cause Leyland cypress to topple in high winds.

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About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.