The rocky mountain Douglas Fir is a medium growing (1-2 ft per year) evergreen. Its needles are 1 inch long that can be a green or blue green color and have 2 flat sides. It dos not shed its needles but can hold them for 10 years or longer. It is native to the rocky mountain areas and commonly grows with the Colorado Spruce and the White Fir.
The Douglas fir in windbreaks will grow up to 75ft and 20 ft wide and has a wide spreading root system. With it strong branching characteristics are not effected by heavy snow and ice and does little damage. In the wild this tree can grow over 100 ft tall and many large and beautiful species can be seen in the vicinity of Durango, Colorado. There is also a Pacific Coast Douglas fir and should not be planted for windbreaks except in its native growing area and make sure you ask if purchasing Douglas Fir from other nurseries. Deer will usually not eat this species unless nothing else is available.
The Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir will grow in a hardiness zone from 3-6 and will do quite well in rocky, well-drained or dry soil, but does not do well in clay or poorly drained soils. Grows well in 15” of rain per year and a soil PH of 7.5 and lower.
The Douglas Fir has been planted throughout the US and has been used for landscaping and windbreaks. When planted on its proper soil conditions does very well, would advise to plant on a sloping ground and not on flat ground unless well drained. On flat land on a wet year have seen plants die, due to the root system becoming too wet for an extended period of time. Have seen 20-ft tall plants that were planted on level soil blow over in a wet year with the root system being only 2 ft across. Have seen
serious problems with
Swiss needlecast and canker diseases but not as serious as the Colorado Spruce. Proper spacing can prevent or lessen this problem.
A 2-ft tall potted tree can be 7 ft tall in 5 years, in well-drained soil with adequate moisture, and weed and grass control around the base of the tree. Spacing--single row 14ft apart, Double row 16 ft between rows and plants, Multiple rows 20 ft
or more between rows and plants.
Due to its disease and soil/moisture problems the Douglas fir is a recommended windbreak tree
only west of Iowa when proper soil conditions are observed. Recommend planting with other species to lessen the chance for disease and short life.
We currently do not recommend planting Doug Fir east of Nebraska.