Q: I have just ordered a lot of Lombardy poplar trees that I plan to use as a border and privacy shield on my property. I need to know about these trees. How far apart do I plant them? How fast do they grow? Any information would be appreciated since I know nothing.
A: Can you get your money back? Lombardy poplar was introduced to this country 200 years ago. It can grow forty feet tall in five years. Out West it is often used as you intend. In dry regions of the U.S., where winters are cold, the tree thrives. In the humid South, it almost always dies within ten years from a canker disease for which there is no cure. When the MARTA East line was completed, many Lombardy poplars were planted in the strip between DeKalb Avenue and the track. Not a one remained within four years.
If you are looking for a fast-growing screen, Leyland cypress is worth a look. Many Leyland owners have sworn off the tree, however, after the limb breakage and blow-downs that occurred during the recent ice storm. Virginia pine is another choice but its ultimate size may be too large for your lot. My recommendation is to do a little more investigation before you plant your Lombardy poplars