Leyland cypress (x Cypressocyparis leylandii or x Cuprocyparis leylandii), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10, is a hardy evergreen tree with a pyramidal to columnar shape. It is fast growing, easy to care for and popular for lining driveways and paths. The plants can easily grow 60 to 70 feet, but can be pruned to remain smaller. For driveway landscaping, determine spacing between cypress and driveway according to the spread (width) of the tree.
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Leyland cypress has a mature spread of 10 to 15 feet. This means that its drip line -- the imaginary circle formed by the circumference of its mature crown -- will also have a diameter as wide as 15 feet. When planting young cypress to border a driveway, allow at least 7-1/2 feet between the tree and the edge of the driveway to accommodate the tree's mature spread and root run. Depending on the width of the driveway, it makes sense to allow even more room, to provide space for vehicle doors opening, pedestrians passing, etc.
Cypress and Driveways
Using Leyland cypress to border a driveway has many benefits. The cypress roots filter runoff water from the hard asphalt or concrete surface, limiting the amount of runoff that goes into local storm drains. The large evergreens serve as windbreaks and snow breaks in colder parts of the country, protecting vehicles and nearby buildings. They also provide cover for birds, insects and small mammals. If the area adjacent to the driveway is slightly sloped, a line of Leland cypress also provides erosion control.
Trees planted near driveways and other high-traffic, hard-surface locations can experience significant environmental stress from pollution and vibration. Good culture minimizes that stress. Cypress is adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions, but thrives best in full sun and well-drained soil. Mulch under the trees to control weeds that compete for moisture and nutrients, but do not allow the mulch to touch the trunks, as this promotes the spread of fungal diseases. Prune to maintain desired shape and height, but avoid pruning during the hottest parts of summer, as this places additional stress on the plants.
Leyland cypress has given rise to many cultivated varieties, especially with golden or golden-green foliage, some of which might work well when used to border driveways. One, the compact "Robinson's Gold" (x Cupressocyparis leylandii or x Cuprocyparis leylandii "Robinson's Gold"), features varying shades of golden foliage on a somewhat conical tree. The tree grows to 25 feet tall by 10 feet wide in 20 years. To plant by a driveway, allow at least 5 feet or more between the trunk and the driveway edge.