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Depth of the Root System of Leyland Cypress

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.

Identification

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.

Problems

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

Living in France and Northern California, Teo Spengler is an attorney, novelist and writer and has published thousands of articles about travel, gardening, business and law. Spengler holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.