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The Norway Spruce is our favorite and best large evergreen for windbreaks in the eastern 2/3 of America.
The Norway Spruce is a fast growing (2-3’ per year) evergreen that has dark green needles that are 1 inch long, and can grow up to 5 ft a year in a good weather year. It never drops its needles but keeps them on for up to 10 years. Its branches extend to the ground, giving excellent wind protection. It is a native of Europe where it grows throughout the region and is the most common evergreen in the Alps area in Europe, the Black Forest of Germany, and the Carpathian mountains of Romania and Ukraine. In Europe it is commonly called the Mountain Spruce and can be seen growing everywhere.
It will grow to 100+ ft tall and 25+ ft wide, it is very wind firm due to its large spreading root system, and tough flexible wood. It can live a very long life in windbreaks of over 100 years in most soils, and is the most common old windbreak tree in the midwest. Due to its shape, heavy snow and ice storms cause little damage. Deer will not normally eat this species unless there is nothing else available.
It will grow well in hardiness zones from 2-7 with some sites in the southern areas being too warm for this spruce as they enjoy colder climates better. I have seen them growing in a variety of soils, even rocky, and sandy soils that hold moisture, and does well in clay soils where pine and fir would not do well. They will grow in a soil PH of up to 9 but does prefer a 7.5 and lower for best growth rates. It is able to take more moisture than other species and should be considered where soils can stay moist and where the land is level and does not drain as well. Does not do well where the soil is constantly wet or swampy.
In areas where the summer can be hot and dry (Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming) they will not do well unless they have adequate moisture, for best growth rates they should have 25” of rain per year or more. They Norway Spruce have few disease problems unless stressed. Fungal diseases that effect other spruces do not effect it, and insect pests occur rarely except on older or stressed trees.
A 2’ tall potted tree can be over 10 ft tall in 5 years, in good soil, with adequate moisture and weed and grass control around the base. Spacing- single row 20’ apart, double row 20’ by 20′ apart, multiple rows 25 ‘or more apart with the trees staggered from the other row.
Here in Iowa and in most of the eastern 2/3 of the US it is a superior windbreak tree and I highly recommend it. Visit:www.norwayspruce.com for more pictures and information.