Instant Landscape Screen

The Story of Planting an Instant Green Landscape Screen


STF Before & After (2)


Here is an illustrated project story on how exposed landscapes, such as in new developments, can instantly be transformed into quaint, sheltered green spaces by the addition of a landscape screen.


Our project starts in a new urban community being built in Northern Virginia. Four properties were completely transformed by incorporating a row of twenty-two 16′ to 18′ tall Arborvitae trees as a green fence, instantly creating privacy and green space for the homeowners’ outdoor living enjoyment.


The community’s developer paid a visit to Shade Tree Farm’s main tree farm in Upperville, Virginia to solve a three-folded problem:
  1. The yards, however spacious, are rather short in depth
  2. The existence of steep hillsides caused some houses to appear to loom overtop of others
  3. A much taller method of screening, than a 6′ wood fence, would be needed to create an instant effect


For the solution, the developer selected a planting of columnar Arborvitae to create a green fence between the four properties. The Arborvitae selected is a slow growing variety with a columnar shape which provides coverage much higher up than pyramidal evergreens. At maturity the trees will reach 25′ tall and fill out to be 8′ to 9′ wide. The trees were already between 16′ and 18’ tall and 6 to 7’ wide. Planting the trees at 7’ centers provided almost immediate coverage. With each tree weighing approximately 1,600 lb. and having a rootball of four feet in diameter, specialized equipment was needed  to safely move and plant the trees.


In this given landscape, planting of these large Arborvitae trees would have been very difficult or nearly impossible after the homes were built, so the process was carefully orchestrated during the construction phrase. Part of this careful orchestration meant summer planting, which is often thought of as a risky planting season.
Summer Planting Tip – Before digging trees to be transplanted during the summer, it is essential the trees are well watered.
The trees were dug with an oversized rootball on a beautiful summer day. There was ample rain leading up to the dig and we also gave a deep water application several days prior – proper hydration is essential prior to digging up trees for summer transplanting. To minimize stress on the dug trees, we moved them from the fields to their new planting sites as quickly as possible; vigilantly keeping the trees moist, misted, and shaded under tarps until replanted.


As planting day arrived, a crew of ten men were ready to move the 1600 lb. trees into position, all twenty-two of them. For the steep slope, a mini excavator was used to dig the tree holes. Heavy duty skid loaders brought the trees from the truck to the planting site where they were carefully lowered into place. Once in position, the trees needed to be adjusted for straightness, and the soil tamped and packed around the rootballs to avoid settling and listing.


As the accompanying photographs illustrate, you can see an instant effect was created for the four adjacent properties. The landscape screen brought greenery and shelter to establish warm and inviting landscapes for all. At the end of a very long planting day: twenty-two trees were planted, ten men were exhausted, one landscape was revolutionized.


10 Steps to Installing an Instant Green Screen

1. Digging out the rootball at the farm in Upperville, Virginia.

2. Preparing the 48" rootball for burlapping.

3. Finishing up burlapping the rootball.

4. Arrival at the planting site.

5. Digging the planting hole with a mini-excavator on a severe slope.

6. The skid steer loader brings the Arborvitae to the finished planting hole.

7. Another view of brining the Arborvitae to the finished planting hole.

8. The Arborvitae is planted and the soil around the rootball is tamped into place.

9. Patio view - instant green screen. Arborvitae are planted creating a backyard that offers a sense of enclosure and privacy.

10. Curbside view - The completed instant landscape screen complementing the entire home development project.

Three months later...