A healthy Leyland Cypress tree in a rural or parkland setting can be attractive to the eye, but when planted close to the typical surburban home, these trees can wreak havoc for homeowners once they grow to resemble the specimen here:

Leyland Cypresses can look all lush and innocuous in their green pots when you buy them at your local nursery, but the fun begins just a few years after planting. That row of Leylands planted to create a privacy hedge on your property line can easily turn into a “spite fence” a few years down the road.

Here are nine reasons to avoid the dreaded Leyland Cypress. Your wallet, your home, and your neighbors will thank you:

  1. Your “fresh from the nursery” plant might already be damaged.  Leyland Cypress foliage tends to grow more quickly than its roots, so even though you have a young, healthy-looking plant, there could be trouble on the horizon.
  2. Leylands grow very quickly. The average tree can reach 80 feet in height in about 20 years if conditions favor rapid growth. When first planted, the tree will look unobtrusive, but given enough water and sunlight, it will encroach on homes and driveways causing all manner of unanticipated problems.
  3. They can be expensive to maintain once they reach full maturity. While you don’t need to do much of anything to a Leyland Cypress for it to flourish, you do need to be mindful of its growth once it matures. Hedgerows will need annual to bi-annual trimming in order to maintain control of growth, and trees close to structures will need regular pruning to keep foliage out of drains and gutters.
  4. Leyland Cypresses can cause neighborly strife. Let’s face it; not all neighbors live together in perfect harmony. Animosity can lead to a simple privacy hedge  becoming the  afrementioned “spite fence”. After a brief period of calm, when a Leyland hedge hits its growing stride, all bets are off. The “spite fence” turns into a massive headache for the parties on either side, leading to potential catastrophe. Trimming can become a costly endeavor, making misery for all involved.
  5. Given the opportunity, a Leyland Cypress will devour your home. As the photo below illustrates, neglecting a mature Leyland Cypress will result in it taking over completely. No further explanation necessary:A mature, 45-year-old Leyland Cypress.
  6.  Leylands can cause structural damage. Never underestimate the power of of a mature Leyland to devastate your property. The photo below shows what a mature Leyland can do when planted above a retaining wall:
    Not only are there no privacy-blocking lower branches, the wall is damaged and could collapse.

  7. Leylands can make you feel like you’re living in a cave. The upper canopy of a Leyland Cypress tree can become excessively full and wide, preventing any natural light from getting through. This does not bode well for other plants, nor does it make for having loads of outdoor fun in the cold shade.
  8. The root systems of mature Leylands planted next to driveways can cause cracks in cement and asphalt. Let’s not forget their tendency towards instability. Do you want to come out of your house one morning to find some or all of your tree on top of your vehicle?
  9. Last, but not least, removing a mature Leyland can be a financial and a structural headache. See if you can guess why:
    Jim Folger, the 6ft. 2in. owner of EcoTreeNW, standing next to a mature 45 in. DBH (diameter at breast height) Leyland Cypress tree.