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Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'

Emerald Green Arborvitae is one of the thickest evergreens you can plant. The hedge creates a neat, crisp look that hardly needs pruning. Also known as Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd', this dense evergreen hedge holds its rich colors and sturdy form throughout the seasons, making it an excellent hedge choice. This evergreen hedge is slow growing with brilliant green foliage. This highly adaptable tree also thrives in the hotter and more humid climates of the Southeast, making it a popular hedge in that region as well as the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast.


Emerald green arborvitae growing region

There are a number of immediate benefits of choosing Emerald Green Arborvitae for your next hedge:

  • Keeps its deep emerald green color throughout the winters
  • Emerald Green arborvitae tolerates dry spells once it is established
  • An especially great shrub for taller privacy hedges or screens
  • Ideal for small yards and other tight areas
  • Slow growth rate makes it a preferred hedge


With a narrow pyramidal habit, Emerald Green Arborvitae has a great natural shape for hedging and also responds well to regular pruning.

Emerald Green is disease resistant and easy to grow, making it a popular low-maintenance hedge.

The Emerald Green Arborvitae performs well in a variety of soil and weather conditions, including snow and ice. Even the coldest of winters, the tree maintains its shape and color.

Its rich foliage and attractive narrow form make the tree an excellent choice to plant in a row for a formal screen.

Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' prefers loamy, well-drained soil with consistent moisture.

The common name of arborvitae, or “tree of life”, comes from the early settlers in North America who learned from Native Americans that the tree’s foliage, sap, bark and twigs had medicinal properties.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 - 8
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Sun/Shade: Full Sun to light shade
Deer Resistance: No
Watering Requirements: Weekly, or more often in extreme heat
Growth Rate: Moderate
Mature Size: Up to 12’ height and 3’ width
Drought Tolerance: Moderate
West Coast - Sunset Heat Zones: 1 - 9, 15 - 17 and 21 - 24; H1, H2
Pest/Disease Issues:
No major pest or disease issues. Leaf miner and spider mites, root rot and phytophthora are all possibilities.

Landscape Gallery

  • emerald green arborvitae smaragd

    This long row of Emerald Green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd') InstantHedge forms a literal wall along this grassy lawn.

  • creating perfect privacy with emerald green arborvitae around swimming pool

    Swimming areas need optimum privacy and wind protection, amply provided by this dense Emerald Green Arborvitae hedge.

  • creating residential privacy with Emerald Green Arborvitae

    This backyard area is made much more private from surrounding residences through the use of an arborvitae (Thuja) InstantHedge.


If you live anywhere between Zones 3-8, you have definitely seen Emerald Arborvitae growing in landscapes. It is a very common landscape plant, which has given it something of a bad name in certain circles. We hear quite often, “I do NOT want an arborvitae hedge.” We think the main reason for this is that we often see mistreated arborvitae hedges that are either pruned incorrectly or planted in the wrong spot. When treated well, which isn’t difficult as they are very low-maintenance, Arborvitaes can create a truly stunning hedge that provides privacy and year-round beauty.


Smaragd, or Emerald Green, is a semi-dwarf selection of Thuja occidentalis. It was selected as a seedling in Denmark in 1950. It was extremely desirable due to several features, one being its slow growth rate. Thuja Emerald Green Arborvitae can grow up to 1 foot per year, and grows nearly straight up.


Pruning is extremely simple with such slow growers, and can usually be done just lightly once per year. As with most conifers, pruning should be done consistently and lightly to avoid unsightly browning. We have all seen ugly, brown arborvitae hedges that have been not-so-lovingly pruned with chain-saws. Their bare branches are exposed, and they will never grow back. It is easy to avoid this simply by pruning regularly!


Another desirable trait is their tall, narrow growth habit. At 10 years old, you could expect to see a plant 6-8’ tall and 18” wide. These natural pillars are perfect for creating low-maintenance hedges that fit perfectly into narrow spaces and small yards. It is best to prune once per year simply to maintain density, but you can do it very lightly.


“Smaragd” is the Danish word for “emerald”, which refers to its rich, bright color all year. It is very unusual for any kind of Arborvitae to show this kind of color at any time of year, and Smaragd boasts it year-round. It is truly striking and adds depth and richness to any garden design.


Emerald Arborvitae is a variety of American Arborvitae, which is native to the Northern United States and Canada. It is hardy to USDA Zone 3, which makes it eligible for many colder regions of the United States, and it also grows well into Zone 8 and sometimes 9.


Once established, The hedge is quite drought-resistant. During the establishment period, though, ample water is important for the health of the plants. It can also withstand short periods of standing water in winter, but does best in a well-draining soil. The hedge prefers full sun but can take a little bit of shade if needed. Since it is so dense, too much shade can cause it to lose some of its fullness and vigor. Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' has almost no trouble with the disease, and it is very easy to grow.


Emerald Green Arborvitae grows slowly, but creates a wonderful privacy hedge. Usually, people will either start with small plants to save costs or plant very large ball and burlap plants for quick privacy. Both of these options have their own issues, with the former meaning a long wait for privacy and potential losses, and the latter having major loss issues and planting difficulty. The top-heavy plants can also shift in the wind and soil settling, causing the hedge to become crooked. This is why InstantHedge presents the best option for hedge planting.

We are frequently asked how far apart to plant Emerald Green Arborvitae for a hedge. Conventional advice is to use spacing of 18 inches to 4′ apart for Smaragd trees, depending on the desired final height of the hedge and the size of the starter plants. This is not very precise guidance, and has left many a gardener, landscaper, and designer wondering what the correct answer might be. With a Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' InstantHedge, the spacing is done for you! Each plant is grown 10″ apart to create a perfect hedge. All you need to do is place the pre-finished hedge units end to end in your trench and that’s all there is to it.

When you buy an Emerald Arborvitae from InstantHedge, you can start with your ideal height and then just sit back and relax. No worrying, no fussing, no waiting. Sounds too good to be true, yes it is. Be kind to yourself and get a quote for your next project today.