The Norway spruce (Picea abies) is a common large tree for general landscape use that grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 7, according to "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs." This evergreen conifer attains a pyramidlike silhouette with sweeping branches with pendant twigs. Norway spruce ultimately matures to 40 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide -- certainly not a tree for small spaces. If grown as a hedge, plan on it become a tall, massive wall. For a more traditional, short hedge on a property line, choose a dwarf cultivar such as Nidiformis or Pumila so you're not always pruning and destroying the natural grace and beauty of the plant.
Measure out a straight row on your property as a guide to planting the Norway spruce hedge. Since the trees mature nearly 25 feet wide, the row needs to be at least 12 feet from any overhead utility lines or building foundations or facades. Use a retractable 25-foot tape measure to guide your planning.
Drive a wooden stake with a hammer spaced 15 to 20 feet apart all along the row. Each stake represents where one Norway spruce needs to be planted. For faster creation of a wall of foliage as the trees grow, space the trees 15 feet apart, but if you want larger trees with more graceful branching, space trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Don't place a stake anywhere along the row that is less than 15 feet from a building, fence, sidewalk, driveway or telegraph pole.
Dig planting holes with a shovel at each stake along the row. Make the planting hole the same depth of the root ball of the Norway spruce. Measure the height of each balled and burlap-covered root ball or container of the spruce purchased from the nursery for each corresponding planting hole. Make each planting hole twice or three times as wide as the diameter of the tree's root ball.
Center each Norway spruce in the planting hole. Backfill soil into the hole, tamping it down gently to remove air pockets. Do not place soil atop the root ball: the top of the tree's root ball must match the top rim of the planting hole. Avoid planting the tree too deeply.
Water each root ball and surrounding soil so it's wet to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. If you irrigate with a garden hose, make the water trickle out slowly to prevent erosion and to direct the water where it's most needed.
Norway spruce needs a well-drained soil that never remains soggy. A moist, acidic soil rich in organic matter encourages fastest and densest growth.
If Norway spruce trees do not receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily, their growth habit may lean toward the light or branches will look leggy.
Tips and warnings
- Norway spruce needs a well-drained soil that never remains soggy. A moist, acidic soil rich in organic matter encourages fastest and densest growth.
- If Norway spruce trees do not receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily, their growth habit may lean toward the light or branches will look leggy.