Proper spacing needed for Leyland cypress hedge

Q: We want to plant quite a few Leylands at the back of our property to create a 100-foot-long and tall privacy screen between us and the neighbors. If we start with 12-foot-high trees, what spacing should we use? — Glen Duggan

A: Landscape architect Bruce Holliday ( says the best spacing is two staggered rows of Leyland cypress planted 15 feet apart.

You could choose to plant a single row with a 10-foot spacing to get quick privacy, but they will eventually crowd each other and the middle will be all brown stems.

Holliday strongly recommends ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae instead. These fast-growing evergreens have better structure, less disease and tend to not “brown-out” in the middle. If you use them, a 10-foot spacing would be fine.

A publication from the University of Georgia Extension Service, “Diseases of Leyland Cypress in the Landscape,” could also be helpful. It can be found at /leylandcypress.

Q: I am looking for an online horticulture course to attend. — Greg Niedzielski

A: You don't have to go to college in order to be a college student. Perhaps you want to expand your knowledge, investigate a new career or further your present career.

The University of Georgia horticulture department (706-542-2471) offers horticultural science, introduction to fruit crops and landscape management online.

You can also contact the Georgia Green Industry Association ( and the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (www.maltalandscape .com) to inquire about job openings.

Q: How are the topiary azaleas with braided stems best planted? — Melanie Bryan

A: Florist azaleas are not usually as winter-hardy as the smaller-leaved Japanese azaleas that bloom reliably each spring.

If yours has been indoors since you received it, wait to plant until things have warmed up in April. Put your azalea in a spot that gets some protection from wind in winter and observe it for a couple of years. If it survives winter and blooms in spring, you have a keeper.

A publication from the University of Georgia Extension Service, “Selecting and Growing Azaleas,” could also be helpful. It can be found at azaleas.

Q: We have a spring on our property that is overgrown with trees and brush. It has always run even during drought. How do we clean it? My grandparents had one instead of a well and it was lined with rocks. — Janice Hembree, Carroll County

A: If you intend to drink the water from the spring, it is imperative that you have it tested for contaminants, either chemical or bacterial.

Your local extension office (1-800-275-8421) can advise on testing that the University of Georgia can do for you. If the water is potable, you can build a spring box to collect water. Details at /buildspring.

Simply dipping the water from the spring before testing and without a means of keeping it uncontaminated is too dangerous.

Listen to Walter Reeves from 6 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on WSB-AM (750). Visit his Web site,, for detailed advice on Georgia gardening.