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Thuja Green Giant Growth Rate – A Documentary with Photos Showing How Fast They Grow

Green Giants year zero 21″ 20″ 20″ (2011)

Green Giants year one 37″ 35″ 32″ (2012)

Green Giants year two 54″ 50″ 45″ (2013)

Green Giants year three 67″ 64″ 58″ (2014)

Green Giants year four 89″ 83″ 74″ (2015)

Green Giants year five 107″ 97″ 90″ (2016)

Green Giants year six 107″ 97″ 90″ (2017)

Growth Gains

YearPlant 1 gainsPlant 2 gainsPlant 3 gainsAverage gains
Total Averages1.4'1.3'1.1'1.3'

Cumulative Growth
YearPlant 1 heightPlant 2 heightPlant 3 heightAverage height

Last year I posted an article showing how to plant Thuja Green Giants. I purchased 3 plants from Botany Shop Garden Center and planted them to screen a storage shed from being seen from the road.

While researching screening shrubs, I read lots of conflicting claims on the internet about their growth rate. Some say their trees only grew a couple inches per year while others say that they grew several feet per year. After surfing the internet for an hour or so, I was unable to locate a good documentary showing the growth rate of the Green Giant. This inspired me to create this yearly documentary to give people an idea of my experience and what they can expect. Keep in mind that results will vary from region to region and everyone s soil and lighting conditions will be different.

Year zero –Planting the saplings (July 2011)

In July of 2011 I decided to plant these green giants. While July is not the ideal month to transplant these shrubs, it is still possible as long as you keep them well watered.

These trees were planted on the south side of the house in the Piedmont region of central North Carolina. The soil here filled with clay and rock, making it difficult to cultivate. One plant receives full sunlight while the others 2 are partly shaded by the shadow of my home. For those who do not know, NC summers are hot and humid while winters are fairly mild.

The trees that I purchased arrived in the mail and stood a proud 20-21” tall.

Each tree was planted about 3’ apart. I amended the soil with a peat moss enriched landscaping soil and fertilized 3-4 times a year with Osmocote fertilizer. During the first 3 months I watered every day. Hardwood mulch was added to help retain moisture.

Year one– Root Establishment (August 2012)

It has been one year since I planted my Green Giants. So far they have seen growth of 16”, 15”, and 12”. At this point it seems as if the plants favor sunlight over partial shade as the one planted in the sunny part has grown 4” taller than the one in the shady area.

They appear to be very healthy and bright green. Over the winter I experienced browning on the tips of some plants but this eventually went away. I once read somewhere that when you transplant such a tree it takes 3 years to start seeing substantial growth so I am looking forward to next summers measurements. The theory of three years goes something like this – A year to recover from shock, a year to establish a strong root system and the third year of extreme growth. I suppose the plants are recovering from transplant shock and developing a strong root system at this stage.

Year Two -Growing but still not “Giants” (August 2013)

I have to admit, growth this year fell a little short of my expectations. In the past year they have grown an additional 17″, 15″ and 13″as seen from front to back. Comparing these numbers to the previous years numbers, the growth rate is striking similar.

Once again, the furthest tree from the house grew the most, likely due to more sun exposure than the others.

I have been continuing with the Osmocote twice a year.

The tree girth is beginning to thicken and they are really starting to spread out.

Year Three – Short of expectations (August 2014)

It’s been three years since I planted my three Green Giant saplings. After last year I was anticipating some major growth this year. However, I was a bit disappointed in the growth over the past 365 days. From front to back they grew 13″, 14″ and 13″. While not growing much taller, they are however becoming noticeably fuller and are very healthy and green. Overall, they are between 5′ to 5.5 ft tall at this point.

Once again, I have been feeding them Osmocote a couple times per year.

Year Four – Slight increase in growth rate (August 2015)

Another year has passed and this time we added 22″, 19″, & 16″ of additional growth. Once again, the tree furthest from the house grew more rapidly than the other two likely because of the additional sunlight.  Growth rate this year has surpassed growth in previous years.

The NC winter was rather cold this year which may have had an impact on growth.

Throughout the year I gave them a couple soups of Osmocote.

At this point, they are 6′-7′ tall.

Year Five – Average of 16″ of Growth

At year five I was expecting rapid growth, however, this still does not seem to be the case. On average, my Green Giants grew 16″ since last August. My tallest one, which gets the most sun, stands just under 9′. My shortest one, in the middle is about 7.5′ tall.

Moving forward, I’m not anticipating any huge jumps in height or girth in the upcoming months. It looks like 16″ of growth per year is about as good as it gets. I’m trying to remain optimistic for next year but I’m quickly losing hope.

Year Six – Still growing at the same rate 

This I had to climb a 6′ ladder to measure plant #1. Due to the height and limbs that are in the way of my tape measure, they are becoming difficult to measure.  The largest Green Giant measures over 10′ tall while the shortest, which receives the least amount of sun, is just over 9′ tall.

Between the three, the average gains were a not-so-impressive 14″.

Over the past year I did not add fertilizer as I have in the past which may have resulted in less gains in comparison to previous years.

Its been six years since I planted these and I’m seeing less than a foot and a half of growth each year.


{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Chad December 31, 2012, 3:16 am

    I planted 40 of these along a fence in my backyard. Half of them get full sun. The first year, the “full sun” plans grew about 24″ and the others about 12″. Keep me updated on your progress because I bought them small and curious if growth rate increases when more established.

    • David Lavalley August 10, 2015, 8:10 pm

      Hi Chad. So far I’m seeing similar rates of growth. Thanks for sharing.

  • George October 3, 2013, 8:49 pm

    I am thankful you started this. I could not find any documentation at all about the expected growth rates. I would like a privacy hedge in my whole backyard. We are only allowed to have a 5 foot fence in my area between neighbors. I decided to “experiment” and bought 25 GGs. They were all between 8″ to 10″ from ground once planted. I planted them mid June. This was done this year (2013). They all developed brown tips, but have since recovered. As of today, Oct 3rd 2013, they all have grown between 4″ to 6″ (I did not expect any growth at all this year). I planted them 3 feet apart with minimal prep since I wanted to see how hardy they are. I will order another 80 GGs and plant next weekend. I would like to have a minimum of 12 foot privacy fence. If I can get that in 4 years will be happy. Will keep you up to date with photos next fall.

    • David Lavalley October 11, 2013, 8:01 pm

      Thank you for reading George.

      Your climate, soil type and placement seem to greatly affect the growth rate of green giants. I also planted 80 or so at a rental property last year in different soil conditions (actually another state – long story). I have not been keeping precise measurements on these but would guess that they have grown a bit faster than the ones that I am documenting here in NC.

      As for the ones in this documentary, I have high hopes for next year. So far they have been growing 15″ per year on average.

      Hopefully next summer I will report back with several feet of growth. (as they claim)

      BTW, brown tips seem to be the norm. As you mentioned, this usually goes away. I seem to get some browning over the winter months but they quickly recover in the spring.

      Please, update me with your progress. I would be glad to post your photos.

  • sharon April 30, 2014, 1:59 pm

    love this post. can you please show some updated photos of growth?

    • David Lavalley August 10, 2015, 8:11 pm

      You got it Sharon. New pictures have been posted.

  • Bobby July 8, 2014, 11:15 pm

    How are they doing this year? Looking forward to an update.

    • David Lavalley July 14, 2014, 12:57 pm


      I will be updating the post shortly. Stay tuned!

  • Lulu May 6, 2015, 8:05 pm

    PLEASE send us pictures! 🙂 ..dying to see!
    I just planted the baby ones (30 !) , exactly like you have on your first image ( year zero). I would say I enjoyed looking at your photos and I am actually happy with the rate they grow. I read that after 3 years they start growing like crazy ( width and height)

    • David Lavalley August 10, 2015, 8:12 pm

      Photos for 2015 have been posted. Check back next summer for updated photos.

  • Corey March 27, 2016, 1:00 pm

    thanks for the time spend documenting! I bookmarked and will return late 2016 for an update. Planted a green giant last summer, and plan on planting a few more this spring.

    • David Lavalley August 4, 2016, 1:39 am


      Good luck with your plants. Please keep us updated.

  • Lisa July 28, 2016, 11:24 am

    Hi there! Thank you so much for this GG growth rate documentary. It is the best on the web. I planted 25 GG around my yard this year in the spring. I am seeing significant growth rate now (July). Does anyone have deer issues with GG? I am nervous about winter. I am in the pocono mountains. It would be hard to cage all these guys in. I am hoping you post more pics this August! Thanks again.


    • David Lavalley August 4, 2016, 1:38 am

      Hi Lisa,

      These are suppose to be deer resistant. While I’ve had no issues, my Father who’s in PA had deer munching in his a couple years ago.

  • Ken November 8, 2018, 5:38 pm

    How are the Green Giants doing now? Any updates on height and growth gains?

    • David Lavalley May 20, 2019, 7:47 pm

      Hi Ken,

      I actually sold my house, so unfortunately not. I have been thinking about driving by and taking a photo. Perhaps I’ll do so in the fall.

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