Copyright 2007 - 2011 by Mario D. Vaden
The evergreen in the photo is a Leyland cypress. Part of it anyway. This Leyland cypress was so big that the whole thing would not fit in one photo and still be able to show the measuring in progress.
This one shown, was planted 21 years before the day the photo was taken. That means it is about 25 years old as seen here. The trunk is 30” in diameter where the measuring tape is positioned. That was not the widest part of the trunk either. The canopy, not shown, was 45' wide.
To prune this conifer for more light and more head-room, 2 hours were required for cutting and clean-up. That is a tremendous amount of time in general, compared to other types of trees of the same age. If money grows on plants then this is one that grows money. But the only people it grows money for are pruning service companies.
Leyland cypress bring back memories of another tree that was popular in the Pacific Northwest, decades ago: the Port Orford cedar. The Port Orford cedar was planted by the thousands. At golf courses, university campuses, parks and residential. It was a plant material bandwagon of the day. As time passed, it became evident that Port Orford cedar has a serious problem with root disease. These started to die by the hundreds. This produced a lot of income work for professionals who offer removal services.
In a different way, Leyland cypress will compare to that. Not due to disease, but rate of growth and over-planting. Many people are planting Leyland cypress in groups or as hedges for a quick fill of foliage to gain privacy. The problem is that the hedge will need 2 times the shearing that a yew or arborvitae would require. Other people are planting groves of Leyland cypress with no idea how large the trees become. The difficulty is that it grows very large in addition to being nearly the fastest growing evergreen planted in Oregon. We may be able to loosely say: 1. Money grows on Leyland cypress. 2. If there is an evergreen growing at lightning speed, its Leyland cypress.
It is a decent evergreen:
This article is not a put-down about Leyland cypress. Its a good plant. It just needs space, good soil to anchor roots and periodic pruning. This is a “handsome” looking evergreen and given space, makes an impressive addition.
Regardless of how nice it looks, due to thousands planted too close together or in bad soil or in a small space, there will be a lot of work for removal services. Every time a Leyland cypress is planted in the wrong area, it's like planting a LIVING BANK ACCOUNT for company which will remove it. For the men and women removing them professionally, Leyland cypress may as well be giant holiday evergreens adorned with golden dollar ornaments.
Feel free to plant one if you like. If your soil is good and you have the room, years of enjoyment should follow. Don't let the poor planning of other people prevent you from making a proper planning decision. Follow the simple rule of the right plant in adequate soil with ample space.
Keep in mind though, that they can get infected with a Seiridium canker. Problems include browning of foliage and branches, sunken cankers on bark of stems and branches, dying limbs, excess oozing resin and various discoloration.
Actually, if I wanted something as wide spreading and gigantic as a Leyland, it would almost make more sense to plant a coast redwood.