Douglas Fir Growth Rate

Knowing the Douglas Fir growth rate can help you plan hedge landscaping. If you're in desperate need of a privacy screen, Douglas Fir trees might not be your best choice. If you're looking for a screen to define part of your yard or a reliable windbreak, this could be a worthy choice.

Growth Rate Defined
According to the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr, the rate of growth, "...refers to the vertical increase in growth unless specified differently. Rate, as is true for size, is influenced by numerous variables such as soil, drainage, water, fertility, light, exposure, ad infinitum." In other words, the growth rate spelled out at the nursery may not be what you get. Ideal soil, light and temperature conditions are needed to encourage maximum growth.

Plants are divided into three categories of growth:

  • Slow: 12 inches or less growth per year
  • Medium: 12 to 24 inches of growth per year
  • Fast: More than 23 inches of growth per year

The Douglas Fir has a medium growth rate, which means it grows from 13 to 24 inches per year, depending on various factors. Prior to planting, take a soil test to make sure the soil has all of the nutrients. If the soil is poor, amend the area with proper nutrients as indicated by the soil test. Adding compost to the area will also help with soil richness.

Planting Douglas Fir Seedlings
Dig a planting hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the pot. Center the Douglas Fir in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a watering ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The watering ring will help divert water to the outer roots. It can be leveled out once the tree becomes established, about a year after planting. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark.

If the Douglas Fir comes as a bare-root plant, soak the roots in water for at least eight hours prior to planting for proper hydration. Synthetic burlap must be removed, as it will not decompose, but natural burlap can be left around the roots. Fold the top of the burlap back so that it's covered with soil when you backfill.

Water the Douglas Fir with at least an inch of water per week. Deeply watering once a week is much better than shallow, frequent watering. With frequent, shallow watering, the deeper roots will not get the moisture required and the Douglas Fir may be patchy or may even die. 

As a medium grower, Douglas Fir won't give you a quick privacy screen. These trees also grow more trunk than canopy, so they're better used as a defining element or a windbreak. At maturity, these trees reach heights of 100 feet with a canopy that spreads as far as 60 feet. They should be spaced at least 20 feet apart, and it's a good idea to plant them in a staggered fashion rather than a straight row, as this gives a more natural look.

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