How far apart to plant norway spruce trees

Garden Guides | Recommended Planting Distance of Norway Spruce

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By: Jack S. Waverly

21 September, 2017

spruce image by Tatuana Badokina from

Norway spruce is an evergreen tree species. The Arbor Day Foundation says that these trees are found in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 7. Norway spruce grow to 60 feet high with an average width being half the height of the individual tree. These trees can grow rapidly when given the space. Because of its size, the Norway spruce has been considered one of the more useful trees through history.


Use of the Norway spruce determines recommended planting distances. These trees are used for various applications, ranging from protective cover to landscaping or Christmas trees.

  • Norway spruce is an evergreen tree species.
  • These trees are used for various applications, ranging from protective cover to landscaping or Christmas trees.


Plant windbreaks at a minimum distance of 100 feet from protected areas on level land; this distance should be reduced to 60 feet on steep, sloping ground. Plant the Norway spruce trees 6 feet apart in rows, with the rows being 8 feet apart when using three rows. When the amount of rows increases to greater than three rows, the separation between trees should increase to 8 feet, with spacing between rows increasing to between 10 and 12 feet. An ideal windbreak consists of five rows of trees with smaller plants surrounding the rows.


Plant the windbreaks from between 60 to 100 feet from structures and feed lots, with the most effective distance being up to six times the tree's height. Snow drifts can form piles behind windbreaks a distance equal to three times the tree height in the windbreak. Plant the windbreaks using a "U" or "L" formation, with a distance of 50 feet beyond the corners of the protected area.

  • Plant windbreaks at a minimum distance of 100 feet from protected areas on level land; this distance should be reduced to 60 feet on steep, sloping ground.
  • Plant the windbreaks from between 60 to 100 feet from structures and feed lots, with the most effective distance being up to six times the tree's height.


Find one of two planting distances for Norway spruce in tree farm operations. Look for smaller spacing of 5-by-5 feet for lots retailing to homeowners; lots retailing to commercial buyers should plant trees farther apart to produce larger trees. While U-cut operations can utilize a 5-by-5-foot spacing, larger trees could suppress newer seedlings because stands contain various ages of trees since they are replaced once they are cut.


Based on a 1936 report from Harvard, the recommended planting distance of Norway spruce has not changed significantly. Older plantations varied in range from 5-by-5 feet up to 15-by-15 feet square. The study shows that smaller spacing allowed for denser growth and more productivity of wood stems. The study also revealed that using smaller stands, such as a 5-by-5 foot square, was only productive using good soil in moist climates; the poorer ground required larger spaced stands. Average knot sizes appeared to increase with the increase in spacing, according to the Harvard study.

  • Find one of two planting distances for Norway spruce in tree farm operations.
  • The study also revealed that using smaller stands, such as a 5-by-5 foot square, was only productive using good soil in moist climates; the poorer ground required larger spaced stands.
Related Articles


  • Arbor Day Foundation: Norway Spruce
  • University of Missouri Extension: Planting Tree Windbreaks in Missouri
  • Harvard University: Study of Existing Norway Spruce Plantations
  • University of Vermont Extension: Planting a Windbreak
  • University of Idaho Extension: Christmas Tree Marketing

Norway Spruce — Windbreak Trees

The Norway Spruce is our favorite and best large evergreen for windbreaks in the eastern 2/3 of America, and in much of the world in the proper climate. We love this tree!!

15 year old Norway Spruce 35 ft tall.

The Norway Spruce is a fast growing (2-3’ per year) evergreen that has dark green needles that are 1 inch long, and can grow up to 5 ft a year in a good weather year. It never drops its needles but keeps them on for up to 10 years. Its branches extend to the ground, giving excellent wind protection. It is a native of Europe where it grows throughout the region and is the most common evergreen in the Alps area in Europe, the Black Forest of Germany, and the Carpathian mountains of Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.  In Europe it is commonly called the Mountain Spruce and can be seen growing everywhere.

It will grow to 100+ ft tall and 25+ ft wide, it is very wind firm due to its large spreading root system, and tough flexible wood. It can live a very long life in windbreaks of over 100 years in most soils, and is the most common old windbreak tree in the midwest.  Due to its shape, heavy snow and ice storms cause little damage. Deer will not normally eat this species unless there is nothing else available.

It will grow well in hardiness zones from 2-7 with some sites in the southern areas being too warm for this spruce as they enjoy colder climates better. I have seen them growing in a variety of soils, even rocky, and sandy soils that hold moisture, and does well in clay soils where pine and fir would not do well. They will grow in a soil PH of up to 9 but does prefer a 7.5 and lower for best growth rates. It is able to take more moisture than other species and should be considered where soils can stay moist and where the land is level and does not drain as well. Does not do well where the soil is constantly wet or swampy.

Seed cones are about 6 inches long. Seed shown in middle and branch with its 1 inch long needles.

Cones and foliage hang down from the branch, very characteristic of Norways.

In areas where the summer can be hot and dry (Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming) they will not do well unless they have adequate moisture, for best growth rates they should have 25” of rain per year or more. They Norway Spruce have few disease problems unless stressed. Fungal diseases that effect other spruces do not effect it, and insect pests occur rarely except on older or stressed trees.

A 2’ tall potted tree can be over 10 ft tall in 5 years, in good soil, with adequate moisture and weed and grass control around the base. Spacing- single row 16’ apart, double row 20’ apart between rows and trees in the row. multiple rows 26 ‘or more apart with the trees staggered from the other row.

Norway Spruce grow everywhere in Europe, and commonly called the Mountain Spruce there.

80+ year old Norway Spruce

Norway Spruce rarely need to be trimmed but it can be done to help even out the growth.  I think the best time is right before the new growth starts in the springtime and this is anytime after March 1st until the new growth starts to grow out.   I recommend taking off only one inch of the growth from last year, as this puts the least stress on the tree and will accomplish what you want to do. If you have a double leader pick out the strongest one and cut the other one back 1/2 of the previously years growth.  Sometime birds land on the top leader and break if off, and many new leaders will try to form.  Again pick out the best one and trim the others back by 1/2 and it will be fine. Even on bigger trees try to allow only one leader, for if you have two trunks form one can be broken off in a strong wind.  Contact us if you have any questions on trimming the Norway Spruce or watch our video on our “things to consider when planting trees” section.

Here in Iowa and in most of the eastern 2/3 of the US it is a superior windbreak tree and I highly recommend it.

I am holding a 2-3 ft Norway
Spruce. On the right is what it looks like after 5 years of growth. Notice weed and grass control around tree, very important for good growth.

Potted 4+ ft size Norway Spruce. Perfect for getting that new windbreak started. We grow them so they are not too thick so they will not blow over the first year after planting.


Every year at Christmas time, a tree is placed in the Rockefeller center in New York City. They look for the largest, most beautiful tree they can find. Year after year their favorite is the Norway Spruce. Its strong branches are able to hold up the thousands of lights and ornaments, and being outside the needles stay on the tree for a long time. The tallest tree ever used was a 100-foot Norway Spruce from Killingworth, Conn. in 1948. After X-Mas the tree is cut into lumber and used to build a house. For 2020 the tree was 75 ft tall and 47 ft wide and weighed 12 tons

Bare root-left-seedling, /center-18"-24" Transplant. / right- 2'-3' Transplant

Kelly Tree Farm, 191 Quincy Ave. Clarence IA 52216 - PH: 563-452-4300 - [email protected]

Planting a blue spruce - advice from Greensad

If you decide to decorate your summer cottage or country house with blue spruces, you need to do it according to all the rules and very carefully. It is impossible to grow spruce on any soil that came to hand. For example, spruce should not be grown in a place where corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetable crops have recently grown. The soil after these crops is often infected and can provoke infection of spruce seedlings with a fungus of the Fusarium genus. There are certain rules for planting this coniferous plant.

Planting soil

The choice of soil for planting seedlings depends on the type of blue spruce. For large varieties, very nutritious soil is needed, but for undersized spruces it will not work, an excess of nutrients will not allow the crown to form properly, and the tree will stretch too far up. It is undesirable to plant blue spruce in calcareous soils. If there is such a soil on the site, it should be acidified before planting. The acidifying agents may be ammonium nitrate, ammonium chloride or ammonium sulfate. But you need to do everything in moderation, otherwise you risk ruining the plant, spruce prefers slightly acidic soil. The surest remedy is to apply ahead of time to the site where the blue spruce will be planted with the soil of their coniferous forest, and in large quantities. In addition to the fact that this soil has the right acid value, it is also populated with beneficial fungi - mycorrhiza, which will help your tree absorb nutrients from the soil.

Don't forget good drainage. Blue spruce does not tolerate long standing water. Drainage can be the most common: broken brick or rubble, at least 20 cm thick. This will prevent the roots from getting wet and rotting during especially rainy periods. In addition to excessive wetting of the soil, drying out was detrimental to the root system.

It is impossible to plant trees very close. The most successful is the distance between blue spruce seedlings of 2-3 meters. If a transplant is necessary, it can be done during the rest period.

Blue spruces for planting should only be selected with a closed root system (plant in a container) and only in garden centers.

Experts consider 55-65 cm to be the most optimal planting depth for blue spruce. This value is common for all types of spruce. Although it is more correct to focus on the size of the earthy coma that surrounds the root system. If we consider the ideal option for each tree, there are the following recommendations: the pit should be 25 cm deeper and 25 cm wider than the root ball. When planting, you need to loosen the ground in a hole by 10 cm.

When planting coniferous plants, it is worth remembering that in no case should the root collar be buried under the ground. It must remain at ground level. Immediately after planting, it is necessary to water the blue spruce seedling abundantly, pouring from 10 to 20 liters of water, depending on the size and age of the seedling. After all the water has been absorbed, or the next day, it is necessary to mulch the trunk circle. Sprinkle around peat, sawdust or compost with a total layer of about 7 cm. This fact should be paid close attention to when planting blue spruce, especially in autumn. Approximately at intervals of 3-4 years, after the snow melts, in the spring it is necessary to feed the root system of the tree with fertilizers. But this must be done carefully and in no case overdo it. Categorically do not use manure and nitrogen fertilizers. They can cause the tree to grow strongly, and by winter its wood will not mature and be damaged by frost.

Try to plant spruces in open places, because this plant loves the sun very much. Although the first 3 years, young seedlings must be shaded to avoid burns of young needles. By the way, the most insidious time in this regard is the end of winter - the beginning of spring. The fact is that the ground under the tree is still deeply frozen and the root system is not able to deliver moisture to the needles. At the same time, the sun is already shining brightly and literally dries up the needles, which then (in May) crumble and the tree loses its attractiveness. After planting, it is necessary to tie the plant to a stake driven into the ground, a fence or other support so that a strong wind does not twist your seedling out of the ground.

Growing blue spruce from seeds and cuttings

But you can plant not only a blue spruce seedling, but also seeds and cuttings and also get an excellent result. If you decide to grow blue spruce from seed, be patient and expect that only 30% of the seedlings will be blue. And preparations should begin a few months before landing. From winter cones, you need to remove the seeds and prepare them. Seeds need to be soaked for a day in water or a pink solution of potassium permanganate. After soaking, the seeds are subjected to stratification under snow or in the refrigerator. This contributes to the hardening of the plant in the future. Seeds should be planted in loose sandy soil to a depth of 1 cm. After 20-25 days, shoots can be seen. Sow seeds should be subject to frost: seedlings should sprout after the end of frost. Sow the seeds should be thick enough, thin out the seedlings so that there is a distance of at least 15 cm between them.

Planting cuttings gives 100% results in terms of similarity to the mother plant. The most suitable time for harvesting cuttings is the spring period, around the end of April, when the expansion of the covering scales of the buds begins and the green cone advances. The stalk is “peeled off” from the mother plant, always with a “heel”. Harvesting should be done in cloudy weather, early in the morning or late in the evening. Harvested cuttings need to be treated with substances to root and create a good root system. Rooting is done in a greenhouse. The cuttings need to be planted in a greenhouse, at an angle of 30 degrees to a depth of 1 cm and at a distance of 5 cm. After the cuttings are planted, they need to be covered with a film, and covered with gauze or burlap to darken it. To care for the planted cuttings of coniferous plants, the first year you need to constantly water, weed and ventilate the greenhouse. Watering, or rather spraying with water, should be done 6-8 times a day

Features of planting a spruce - tips from Greensad

How to plant a Christmas tree

Today, many amateur gardeners plant conifers on their plots. Indeed, their appearance will decorate any site, and coniferous plants are considered unpretentious in care. Perhaps the most difficult moment is planting a young seedling, and especially a large one. Spruce is one of the most popular coniferous trees among gardeners. In order for the spruce to endure the planting well and take root in your area, you must observe the following planting rules spruce.
Spruce trees do not tolerate overdrying of the roots; the plant must necessarily be with a clod of earth, which must be moistened as it dries. Therefore, buy only plants in containers and only in garden centers. Tempted by a low price in the market, as a result, you will most likely lose both money and time.

Spruce planting

There are two favorable periods for planting fir trees - this is the end of April and the end of August. At this time the root system of grows intensively, so the spruce will take root faster. For a tree, you need to choose the right place. If the tree is small decorative, then you can plant a spruce on the site and not far from the house. Ordinary spruce has a superficial root system, so it will interfere with other plants and plantings, taking all moisture from them . Then it is better to plant it outside the site. But if you still want to see her on your site, then you should cut her roots every year. If the tree grew in the forest, then to transplant it, you need to orient yourself to the cardinal points and plant the spruce in the same way as it grew in the forest. If plant a Christmas tree according to this principle, then the tree will take root faster.

How to transplant spruce

Having bought a seedling, and having chosen a place for planting, prepare the planting hole itself . It is dug in advance: the upper diameter is 40-60 cm, the lower diameter is 30-50 cm, the depth is 50-70 cm. For heavy soil and for places where soil waters are high, place " drainage " on the bottom - crushed stone or broken brick with sand in a layer of 15-20 cm. Prepare the potting mix to fill the planting hole. The soil from the pit is mixed with peat, humus and sand are added. It is advisable to add fertilizer-nitroammophoska 100-150g (3/4 cup) when planting. Later, feeding is optional. The optimal proportions of soil for planting spruces: 2 parts of sod land, 2 parts of leafy soil, 1 part of peat, 1 part of sand.

When can spruce be transplanted:

The recommended time for planting seedlings (seedlings) is usually spring, before the start of growth (vegetation) and autumn, from the beginning of September, and autumn planting ends before the onset of cold weather. Trees - large spruce trees (more than 3 meters high) are recommended to be planted from November to March, with a frozen earthen clod.

Now proceed directly to the landing. Pour the soil mixture into the pit over the drainage layer, so that the surface of the earth in the container coincides with the surface of the earth at the landing site (be sure to take into account the shrinkage of the soil), pour 5 liters of water into the pit. Carefully remove the seedling from the container and place the root ball in the hole. Remember that it is undesirable to destroy an earthen ball. If this happens, you have 15-20 minutes left to complete the landing. The plant is placed in the hole as it is convenient, important, Align the trunk vertically on all sides, fill it up, without strongly tamping the root ball with the prepared soil mixture. When planting spruce, it is necessary to water the planted tree. This is done primarily so that the earth fills all the voids and tightly fits the root system of the seedling. To do this, make a small earthen dump around the seedling from the earth. This will hold water when watering. Another 10-20 liters of water are poured, depending on the size and age of the seedling. If spruce planting is carried out in the summer, then in the next month and a half of spruce planting, it is necessary to pour 10-20 liters of water under the tree once a week (depending on size).
During the first year after planting, the soil in the holes will settle. The trunk circle should be mulched with peat or compost with a layer 5 cm thick. This will retain moisture, increase the temperature of the soil, and enrich it with nutrients. In the spring, the mulch is mixed with the soil, gently loosening around young plantings to a depth of no more than 5-7 cm.

Recommended spruce care

Keep in mind, spruces love good lighting, but young seedlings need shading . Therefore, either plant them near fences or buildings that will provide the necessary shade in the first years of life, or consider how this can be done in another way. Spruces can be planted singly or in groups, with a distance between trees in a row of 2 to 3 meters, but not less than 1 m. Do not forget that the spruce root system, although is superficial , takes up a lot of space around the tree itself. Over the years, she may encounter obstacles (the foundation of the house, communications). In this case, it will suffer itself and can harm your buildings. Do not forget about the competition for food and light between plants. Due to the fact that spruce has a superficial root system, spruces cannot stand trampling and soil compaction. Mulching with peat or sawdust for the winter is recommended for the first two years after planting young seedlings (6-8cm layer). It is also desirable to cover young spruce seedlings for the winter with spruce branches.

In the spring, after early spring frosts, the spruce branches are removed. Mature plants are sufficiently winter-hardy and do not require additional protection. Often young spruce seedlings suffer from the bright spring sun (February-March). Due to the fact that the earth is still frozen and the root system does not really work, I deliver moisture to the needles, the latter simply burn out. Moreover, it is impossible to notice this immediately, the needles crumble in the summer, and the plant will lose its beauty. To prevent this from happening, we once again remind you of the need shade spruce saplings. Trees become more resilient with age.

Additional watering is recommended during prolonged absence of rain, mandatory during droughts. Take a handful of soil from under the plant and squeeze it in your fist. Unclench your fist, if the lump crumbles, then watering is required. With sufficiently moist soil, the clod does not crumble. If, when the soil is compressed, it spreads between the fingers, then the soil is waterlogged . When watering, water is poured not under the trunk of the seedling, but around the root ball, in a circle 20-30 cm from the trunk.

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