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Green Giant vs. Emerald Green Arborvitae – Differences

Green giant vs emerald green arborvitae

Arborvitaes are ornamental and attractive tree species that can positively transform your garden. When the arborvitaes are planted correctly, they are healthy, resilient, and useful. Most Thuja tree species look similar during their early stages of development.

But as they begin to reach maturity, they tend to showcase significant differences in their shapes, sizes, and general appearance.

The Green giant and Emerald green thujas are the two common tree species native to North America and are widely distributed. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between these two evergreen conifers.

Differentiating Between The Two

The Green giant arborvitae is evergreen and fast-growing hedge common in most modern homes today. It has green foliage and grows about 3 feet per year, with other hybrids growing 4 feet per year.

Many homeowners prefer the green giant arborvitae as privacy screens and fencing alternatives because of their densely packed leaves.

On the other hand, the Emerald green arborvitae is a similar evergreen hedge that can be compared to the Green giant arborvitae. However, most Emerald greens do not reach extreme heights but can also be used as privacy screens and windbreakers.

Below are five similarities and two differences between these two coniferous trees.

1. Size

These two trees are remarkably different in both their long-term and short-term growing patterns. The sizes of the two tree species vary significantly.

The Green giant (just as the name suggests) grows tall, wide, and reaches heights of about 50-60 feet tall. It spreads to about 14-21 feet wide in their maturity. A few green giant species will even extend to reach 70 feet tall and 25 feet wide.

This arborvitae grows quickly to 18-22 feet tall and suddenly become slow growers to around 25-35 feet tall.

The emerald green arborvitae, on the other hand, is a relatively smaller tree species. It will grow to heights rarely above 15-17 feet tall and spread about 4-5 feet wide at their maturity.

The emerald green arborvitae grows quickly during its early growing years to reach 10 feet tall. Then they become slow growers to around 12-15 feet tall.

2. Resistance

The resistance of a coniferous tree to not only fungus infections, but pests and wildlife help in determining the most preferred tree to an undesirable tree species. Read more on the pest infestation, stress, and wildlife harm.


The Green giant encounter pest-related problems which cause the leaves to droop and die. Common pests, including bagworms, leafminers, scale, and spider mites, choke the growth of most green giant arborvitaes, making the tree look pale and unhealthy.

This tree species can also be affected by tip blight disease – A fungal disease that causes a pine tree’s shoots to dry, disfigure and die.

The Emerald green arborvitae is also affected by pests and diseases. These pests are similar to those that affect the green giant arborvitae. Most Emerald green arborvitae pests cause the foliage to turn brown and the leaves to droop and eventually die.


Wildlife is a common problem that affects most tree species, including the arborvitae. The mice, voles, and deer like to eat different varieties of branches and tree roots.

Mice and voles like to eat the bark of young Emerald green arborvitae and the branches of mature trees. Voles, on the other hand, tunnel through the ground and cause significant damage to the roots of the Emerald green arborvitae.

Most Deer don’t care for Western arborvitaes like the Green giant arborvitae. But when drought persists, deer will eat the leaves and roots of any thuja species.

Note: Mice and voles also pose a challenge to green giant arborvitae trees.


Tree stress can also occur when the weather suddenly becomes exceedingly hot or cold. For instance, during a heavy snowfall, the Emerald green arborvitae will not support heavy ice deposited loads in its branches and can get damaged beyond repair.

The Green Giant is a bit resistant tree species and can support the heavy snow load. Most Green giants can withstand a heavy snowfall without getting damaged.

The Green giants will reshape back to its original shape when the snow melts as opposed to the Emerald green, which is left with broken branches and torn backs.

3. Growing Zones

Before picking the correct coniferous tree species, you should tell the different climatic conditions in specific zones. Freezing weather, drought, and rain affect the growth rate of most arborvitae.

The Emerald green arborvitaes can withstand exceedingly severe cold and harsh weather seasons. It can perform well in zones 2-7, where the temperatures can reach up to -40°.

The Green giant arborvitae, on the other hand, will not thrive in too harsh and cold weather zones. It will grow in USDA zones 5-7, where the temperature rarely exceeds -20°.

All Green giant arborvitae can grow comfortably in extremely hot areas as opposed to the Emerald green arborvitae, which will do well in warm and not hot and dry weather zones.

4. Appearance

The appearance of a tree is also another critical factor that helps decide which tree you should pick.

For a privacy screen alternative, the Emerald green Thujas help in achieving optimum results. Its unique green foliage and narrow pyramid shape can help transform the look of your garden immensely.

Green giant Thujas have slightly darker and thick foliage that is attractive. However, most Giant greens are ideal picks if you want a tree species that can provide shade to a much larger area, like an open field.

Giant greens also assume a pointed pyramid shape – but this conical shape is over 30 feet high and 15 feet wide.

5. Spacing

Before planting your arborvitae, you need to decide the location and the number of trees you want to have in your garden. Also, you need to know the recommended space needed for effective growth. Arborvitae need enough spacing between each other to mature fast and appropriately.

Knowing the maximum width, ordinary arborvitae can spread in its maturity stage helps determine the required spacing. For instance, the Giant green arborvitae needs to be spaced 5-6 feet away from each other, and the emerald green arborvitae needs to be spaced 3-4 feet apart.

Enough tree spacing allows the tree roots to sip equal amounts of nutrients from the soil.


Almost all conifers have their similarities. These similarities, however, offer a lot of advantages to homeowners and farmers who choose specific conifers. Below are three similarities between the Green giant arborvitae and the Green giant arborvitae.

1. Toughness

The Giant green arborvitae and the Emerald green arborvitae are resistant to harsh weather conditions. In winter, the temperatures can quickly drop and reach -0°. But, these two tree species will tolerate the cold weather and continue to grow well.

Both the Giant green and Emerald green can grow well in different types of soils and soil structures. Thujas have a tougher root structure when compared to other tree species.

2. Maintenance

For a long and healthy life, tree maintenance includes watering, pruning, trimming, and fertilizer application. However, some trees are more challenging to maintain than others. When it comes to Thujas, the watering and trimming process is not as hard as most people imagine.

Maintaining a green giant or an Emerald green arborvitae is easy. These tree species will not need continuous pruning and trimming each month or even thinning. Because they are not as fast growers as the hybrid poplar, you don’t have to water your plants every morning & evening and don’t need to mulch regularly.

To maintain a beautiful landscape together with your lawn, these two tree species are a perfect choice. Although the Green giant can grow to massive heights, they can be pruned and maintained during the early stages of growth.

The Emerald green arborvitae does not require continuous shaping because it is pyramid in shape.

Green Giant Vs Emerald Green – Which Is Better For Your Garden?

Depending on your preferences, you need to decide the best tree species that works for you best. If you need a tightly compacted privacy screen on your lawn, the emerald green performs exemplary. If you want an attractive conifer that can withstand the harsh weather conditions and deer nipping, the giant green is your friend.

Giant green is the best choice if you want a taller alternative that can screen tall upcoming building in the neighborhood. For the much shorter screening privacy, the Emerald Green Arborvitae is the best option.

There are hundreds of evergreen conifers to choose from for your garden. Choose an ideal tree wisely.

Final Thought

If you intend to plant either the Giant green or the Emerald green arborvitae, you should not forget to consider enough spacing in between the plants. Too much space between the plants will result in an unattractive garden/lawn.

You also need to understand the watering pattern for smaller-sized conifers and fertilizer application for improved plant growth.