I like Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis) because of its versatility-it does what people often want Norway Spruce to do. I’m certainly not disparaging Norways, but they do grow quite wide. On the other hand, Picea orientalis stays fairly narrow, can tolerate as much shade as Hemlock but is more adaptable, and might have the nicest green foliage of any screening conifer I know of.
It’s slower growing than other spruce, count on about 6-8 inches a year, 4-5 inches if it’s going to be kept as a tight pyramid. It seems to speed up somewhere around 12 years old (7-8′ or so). In our fields, they are still quite small, only about 30 inches tall having been planted 2 years ago, but our take on the trees is nearly 100 percent. They are grown in full sun and have adapted well in one field that drains excessively well without supplemental irrigation. I have not observed gall issues that can plague White, Norway and Colorado Spruce. It’s best planting Oriental Spruce away from direct salt spray on shoreline properties or excessive salt inundation.
Like any spruce, it trims well, just make sure there is a bud below/inside of your cut so it pushes growth from there. Although it is fairly drought tolerant, it’s good to remember that shade tolerant plants are often chosen because of tree roots. Introducing some organic matter and mulch (never piled on the trunk of any tree) helps a great deal with establishment.
I hope you consider this great tree that I often refer to as a refined Norway Spruce. Happy planting!