How Often Should You Water a Cedar Hedge? 

Cedar hedges make an excellent screen that provides adequate coverage for houses that require privacy. They can grow very tall with proper care. However, they are vulnerable to drought stress and other water-related issues.

You should water your cedar hedge thoroughly once a week. If your area has fast-draining sandy soil, you may need to amend your soil to improve water retention. Otherwise, you should water your cedar hedge more frequently to prevent the leaves from drying up.

Although they can grow tall and wide, cedar hedges are relatively easy to maintain. Still, they have clear watering needs. I will discuss the watering requirements of a cedar hedge and the factors that may affect the watering frequency.

Watering Requirements of Common Cedar Hedges

Numerous cedar varieties can be used for hedges, including the Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and the Western redcedar (Thuja plicata). Both species make excellent hedges but have different water requirements.

On the other hand, many cedar trees under the Cedrus genus do not make good hedges because they require much space and are pretty competitive for moisture and soil nutrients.

Most cedar varieties used for hedges are from other genera. It helps to understand the basic characteristics of the kind of cedar tree you have to ensure that you can provide it with the appropriate amount of water and frequency of watering.

Let’s look at some common cedar cultivars suitable for hedges:

Alaska Cedar

The Alaska cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis) is one of the tallest cedar tree varieties that can be used for a hedge. This tree can grow up to 100 feet (30 m) tall in the wild.

As part of a hedge, you can maintain its size to less than 10 feet (3 m). It has a conical shape, with a wider bottom that can also spread 10 feet (3 m) across. 

To keep the Alaska cedars compact for a hedgerow, you can grow them 3-5 feet (0.9-1.5 m) apart. They don’t grow very quickly in gardens, so you don’t have to worry too much about the pruning requirements for the first five years or so. This cedar variety grows less than a foot (30 cm) per year.

Alaska cedars can grow on any substrate as long as there is sufficient moisture. They prefer moist soils and can be sensitive to underwatering. However, they are also prone to over-watering.

You should water Alaska cedars deeply once a week. If the weather is dry, increase the frequency to twice a week. Be sure to add more water when the soil’s upper 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) feels dry.

Note that this variety can grow in partial shade or full sun, which can have different effects on how quickly the soil can dry up. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Eastern Redcedar

The Eastern cedar cultivar is one of the most drought-resistant cedar varieties that grow in the US. It can grow in dry or moist soil and any substrate, even without amendments. 

It also prefers growing under direct sunlight for at least 8 hours a day, which can speed up the drying of the soil. However, since it is more drought-tolerant, a weekly deep watering schedule should suffice to meet its water requirements.

Reduce the watering frequency during cold or rainy seasons to once every 7-10 days. You can check the soil for dryness if you’re worried about underwatering your plant. If the upper 3 inches (7.6 cm) of the soil is dry, it’s time to water your Eastern redcedar hedge.

Western Redcedar

In contrast to the Eastern redcedar, the Western redcedar is drought-sensitive. Its leaves can dry up quickly when left underwatered. Its rapid growth also contributes to its high demand for moisture. 

The Western redcedar grows approximately 2 feet (60 cm) per year. It needs consistently moist—but not waterlogged—soil to keep up with its growing needs. Choose a loamy or humus-rich substrate for this cedar variety for the best moisture retention capacity.

This plant also dislikes hot climates. So, if your area has a relatively hot environment, grow your Western redcedar hedge in a partially shaded area. Water the hedge deeply when you notice the upper inch (2.5 cm) of the soil drying up.

Eastern White Cedar

The Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), also known as the Northern white cedar, is a relatively shorter cedar cultivar used for hedges. It grows moderately slow at roughly 1 foot (30 cm) every year, making it convenient to keep it short for several years.

This variety is particularly sensitive to dry and cold weather, making winter a pretty tricky season to meet the hedge’s watering needs. 

In cold seasons, plants tend to absorb less water due to reduced activity. However, since the Eastern white cedar is an evergreen tree, it is actively growing even in winter, making water an essential growth requirement. 

The low humidity in winter can also make moisture unavailable from the air. Mulching usually helps retain heat for the plant roots and keeps the soil moist enough for plants to absorb water as needed.

Water the Eastern white cedar hedge thoroughly once a week in warm months and once every two weeks in winter.

Factors Affecting Watering Frequency

Although watering your cedar hedge thoroughly once a week is generally recommended, you may need to adjust the frequency due to some environmental factors.

Let’s discuss them below:

The Type of Soil

Cedar hedges have shallow roots, making them prone to drought stress, especially during the dry season. 

Most cedar varieties can thrive in any kind of substrate but do best in loamy soil with a good balance between moisture retention and drainage.

If your area has loose, sandy soil, you can apply 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of mulch to increase the moisture retention capacity of the soil. On the other hand, clay soil may need a soil amendment consisting of organic matter to improve drainage and allow the roots to breathe.

The Amount of Rainfall

Too much water is detrimental to any cedar hedge. During heavy rains, we cannot control how much water goes into the soil and how long it will stay. Sitting too long in water-logged conditions can severely damage your cedar hedge.

Consider growing your cedar hedge in an area that doesn’t hold much water during the rainy season. Growing your plants on a little bit of elevation can go a long way to prevent the water from pooling at the base of the cedar trees.

The Temperature in Your Area

The amount of sunlight and the season can affect your area’s temperature. Consequently, the temperature will also affect how quickly your plant can utilize the moisture in the soil or how quickly it can evaporate.

Cedar hedge varieties have different light requirements. Those that thrive in partial shade may need less frequent watering than those that prefer full sun. Also, a cedar hedge will need more frequent watering in summer than in winter.

Overwatering: Effects, Symptoms, and Preventive Measures

Overwatering a cedar hedge will often result in root rot. Regardless of the species, cedar trees are generally sensitive to excessive moisture. In addition, too much water in the soil can block air spaces, potentially suffocating the plant’s roots. 

Symptoms of an overwatered cedar hedge include the following:

  • New leaves appear lighter than normal.
  • The roots appear dark and feel mushy.
  • The leaves become more susceptible to pests and secondary infections due to poor plant health.

When planning where to grow your cedar hedge, select a spot that is not prone to flooding during the rainy season. Otherwise, you can increase the soil’s drainage to ensure that it doesn’t sit on water for too long, especially if you have a drought-tolerant variety.

Although most cedar trees can recover in one to two weeks, fixing the issue of overwatering during the hurricane season can be challenging. Sitting too long in too much water may cause irreparable damage to any cedar hedge.

That’s why it’s best to grow cedar hedges far from areas that get soaked or flooded during the rainy season.

Underwatering: Telltale Signs and Selecting Draught-Resistant Cultivars

Underwatering a cedar hedge can result in wilting or drying of the leaves, especially in varieties not tolerant to salt and drought. On the other hand, drought-tolerant cultivars might not show any problems immediately. However, extended periods of dryness will result in stunted growth and dryness.

Here are some telltale signs that your cedar hedge is underwatered:

  • Brittle leaves
  • Leaves are turning brown
  • The soil appears and feels bone-dry
  • Stunted growth

If you live in a hot and dry area or if your soil has poor moisture retention, you may select a drought-resistant cedar cultivar. These are also more tolerant of a little bit of neglect, so you wouldn’t feel too guilty about missing a watering schedule.

Final Thoughts

Various cedar hedge cultivars have different watering requirements, so it is essential to understand your hedge’s specific needs.

Cedar plants are generally low-maintenance as long as you provide them with their basic needs. Learn your plant’s growth requirements and create a routine to make it easier to manage them. Be sure to make adjustments based on seasonal and weather changes like heavy rainfall or extended dry periods.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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