Leyland Cypress Trees: Keeping Your Privacy Screen Evergreen

Florida Division of Plant Industry , Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

Privacy screens: A purpose that has popularized evergreen tree, Leyland cypress. A beautiful barrier protecting homes from outside eyes and ears? Convenience, beauty, an aesthetically pleasing “living wall.” And they grow extremely fast? Who wouldn’t sign up?

Unfortunately, many homeowners aren’t aware of the serious diseases and eyesores that can develop in their Leyland cypress trees. While they’re the most popular privacy tree in the United States, it’s important to keep a look out for their health and stay on the preventative side; once the following issues develop, they become difficult to treat.

Diseases and Pests in Leyland Cypress

Due to their shallow root systems, Leyland cypress are prone to disease. The infection can spread from one Leyland cypress to another in the row, causing damage to each tree in the privacy screen.

Generally, there are three main diseases and two common pests that attack Leyland cypress.

  1. Blight
    • Needles browning and dropping
    • Begin on lower branches and move to branch tips
    • Disease moves up tree over time
    • Can cause all needles to turn brown, with green only seen on branch tips
John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

  1. Canker
    • Reddish-brown needles
    • Thin, long sunken cankers (dry lesions) on trunk and branches
    • Dark brown to purplish color on surrounding bark
    • Disease continues to expand and destroy a significant area of the tree
Evergreen Leyland cypress canker damage
Kevin Ong, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Bugwood.org

  1. Root Rot
    • Drying roots due to poor drainage
    • Little growth in foliage
    • Foliage becomes thinly spread along tree
    • Foliage can turn yellow, purple, or tan 
Evergreen Leyland cypress root rot damage
John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

  1. Bagworms
    • Loss of tree needles
    • Slow tree growth
Evergreen Leyland cypress bagworm infestation tree needle loss damage
Chazz Hesselein, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Bugwood.org

  1. Spider Mites
    • Yellow spots on tree needles
    • Tree needles may brown, die, and fall off
    • In severe cases, webbing may occur
Evergreen spruce spider mite infestation damage
Ward Strong, BC Ministry of Forests, Bugwood.org

Any of the above cases can lead to death of Leyland cypress. Often, when the signs are finally noticed, it’s too late to save the tree. This makes preventative measures crucial in protecting your privacy screen.

For more information, refer to our previous article on Leyland cypress trees and why they may not be a good choice for privacy screens.

Preventative Care: The Best Protection for Leyland Cypress

While your privacy screen may look great now, issues may gradually develop in your landscape that are nearly impossible to eliminate.

If you care about your privacy screen, preventative care is the best solution in protecting it over time.

Preventive Care Package: We will be able to keep an eye on your property and provide solutions to keeping your privacy screen at its optimal health before you start seeing signs or symptoms. This package is a long-term solution individualized to your landscape.

If you’re worried about your home’s privacy screen and Leyland cypress trees or are interested in our care package, call us at 703.573.3029 or book an appointment online to meet with one of our Certified Arborists.

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