A whisper from the woods

Ask me (almost) anything, February 2023

Feb 20, 2023

In this month’s Ask me (almost) anything blog, we are answering a question from one of our community members.

Yvng Carley from Nyandarua County in Ol Kalou, Kenya, contacted us, explaining that he wants to plant Eucalyptus and Cypress trees on half an acre’s land. He asked for advice regarding how deep to dig the holes, and how much spacing should be between the holes / trees.

Nyandarua County in Ol Kalou, Kenya


Mark responded that without knowing the context of the question, such as windbreak, firewood etc., and the proposed species of Gum or Cypress, and the ground conditions (depth of soil, availability of water/ rainfall etc), he can only provide general advice.

Mark tells us that Eucalyptus and Cypress are quite tough and vigorous. They will compete with one another if planted too closely, but won’t achieve their true potential for canopy spread or trunk size.

“My Red Gums on my land are planted very close at 3-4 meter centers, and the trunks are less than 300 mm in diameter. They have a spread of 5 meters, and a height of 15 meters after 15 years. They get a lot of water in a soak, whereas a single Red Gum tree nearby, is 15 meters in height, but 20 meters spread and 900mm in diameter after the same time! See the pictures of close planted gums on my block. If they get water, they will achieve a big size quickly, even with the spacing of 4 to 5 meters. So water is the key.”

In Mark’s case, he says that he mainly plants his trees for bird habitat, and nectar for bees, so spacing is not important. However, if you want small branches for firewood, then close spacing is fine as the branches will grow quickly, providing small wood for cooking etc.

If you want big diameters of wood for sawing of logs, then you must plant further apart, for example 5 to 7 meters or wider apart.

“In the case of Cypress trees, these may require more space as they tend to be grown in drier conditions. I would say 5 to 6 meters perhaps between trees, but if you want a windbreak, then 3 to 4 meters spacing.” Mark says.

As for soil planting, both trees only require planting holes slightly bigger than the containers they are grown in – a 200 mm container only needs a 300 mm diameter hole, and the same depth = 300 mm. They only need the soil broken up for 100 mm around the root ball to get a good start. Making up a slurry mix of soil, clay and water, will allow the roots to spread quickly, especially in drier weather of late spring or summer. Watering every week will be necessary for the first 6 to 8 weeks in most cases, depending on the climate type.

“Good luck with planting!” says Mark.


Thank you for this insightful article, Mark. We appreciate learning from you.

Do you have a question for Mark? Send him an email, or post your question in the comment section below.


Mark’s Redgum trees


Please share this. Thank you!


  1. Dennis

    Hello. Have just cut down all bluegums a month ago and I’m planning to plant Cypress, is it advisable?

    • Mark Allaway

      Hi Dennis, Thank you for your query. Without knowing where you are located this decision should be based on your long-term needs. If you want wind protection, then this would be sensible. If you want firewood, then softwood Cypress will be slower growing (depending on water) and not so useful for fuel. Bluegums in Australia are a native species but not often a local species, as they are restricted to mountain and temperate terrain. They do support birds and insects for pollen and nectar but need lots of space to mature . Many Cypress species are indigenous to Europe, Asia, North America and central America. Both types of tree are long-lived, hardy and adaptable but do need good water supply to flourish. It will all come down to your situation and preferences. Staged plantings are always best to test results. Your needs may also change over time. In addition, you may think about a mixed tree list to add diversity to your ecosystem, as well as the useful species for your specific needs. Nature likes diversity for health and vigour. Good luck.


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