Examples of Evergreen Trees for Landscaping
Beautiful landscaping requires the use of a variety of flowers and plants, but evergreen trees are one of the best additions you can welcome into your garden. Not only are they regal and lush, but they are also highly functional and practical plants that can greatly benefit your home and yard. From adding shade to increasing privacy, there are seemingly countless ways to use evergreen trees in your yard.
Evergreen trees come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from the likes of the elegant and thin Italian Cypress to the lush and towering Norway Spruce. If you’re thinking about planting evergreen trees in your yard, it’s crucial to learn more about them, their different uses, and how best to care for them in order to make a landscaping decision that works best for your needs.
What Are Evergreen Trees?
An evergreen plant is defined as “any plant that retains its leaves through the year and into the following growing season.” Evergreen plants can still lose their leaves, but do so gradually rather than seasonally or all at once. Evergreen plants stand in contrast to deciduous plants, which seasonally shed their leaves, petals, or fruit. Even if a plant only keeps its foliage in certain climates, it is still considered evergreen rather than deciduous.
A huge variety of different trees and shrubs are evergreen, ranging from classic-looking holiday trees to broad-leafed tropical plants. Pine, spruce, and cedar trees are common evergreen plants that are often used in landscaping. Many tropical evergreen plants, such as ferns and birds of paradise, are kept indoors. If your climate is warm enough, though, you may also keep tropical evergreen plants outdoors.
Popular Features of Evergreen Trees
Each evergreen plant is distinct and unique; even evergreen trees that seem or appear similar have differing care needs, growth patterns, and uses in landscaping. Depending on what you’re looking for, certain types of evergreens may be better than others. However, no matter how you’re planning to use these trees in your landscaping, there are a few core features to look for and key considerations to make beforehand.
Dwarf Evergreen Trees & Shrubs
Dwarf evergreen trees and shrubs are plants that have been purposefully kept smaller than is typical for their species. Because of their size, they are easier to care for and maintain than full-sized trees and shrubs. They are a great option if you don’t have a lot of room to plant evergreens or want an exciting accent or feature in your garden. Here are a few dwarf evergreens that might be a nice fit for your yard:
- Alberta Spruce Tree
- English Boxwood Shrub
- Globe Blue Spruce Shrub
- Hiba Cedar Shrub
- Hinoki Cypress Shrub
Evergreen Trees For Privacy
Full-sized evergreen trees make great privacy trees because they are green year-round. Some can even serve as sound barriers. While dwarf evergreens may only get up to six feet tall, some standard evergreens can reach heights of 20 to 60 feet. Further, there’s a huge variety of evergreen trees that work well as privacy trees, including:
- Carolina Sapphire Cypress Tree
- Emerald Green Arborvitae Tree
- Foster Holly Tree
- Spartan Juniper Tree
- Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae Tree
Fast Growing Evergreen Trees
Many evergreens grow quickly, sometimes at a rate of two or more feet per year. These fast-growing trees are another great option if you’re looking for more privacy or to create a barrier, but they also work well if you simply want a lush garden sooner rather than later:
- Blue Ice Cypress Tree
- Eastern White Pine Tree
- Leyland Cypress Tree
- Nellie Stevens Holly Tree
- Skyrocket Juniper Tree
As mentioned above, many evergreen plants are shrubs rather than trees. Although similar to trees, shrubs tend to be smaller and lower to the ground. In addition to being useful for aesthetics, evergreen shrubs can be used for privacy. They are also a low-maintenance option that can be easier to care for than fully-grown trees. Some popular evergreen shrubs include:
- Burning Bush Euonymus Shrub
- Camellia Kramer's Supreme Shrub
- Golden Dream Boxwood Shrub
- Moonbay Nandina Shrub
- Tempelhof Hinoki Cypress Shrub
Evergreen Tree Planting and Care
In general, evergreen trees and shrubs are relatively easy to plant, care for, and maintain, making them a great option for newer gardeners. Of course, specific needs can vary greatly from plant to plant, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Planting and soil: Be mindful of where you plant evergreen trees and shrubs. Evergreens tend to do well in acidic, well-drained soil. Even when planting a privacy screen, be sure your evergreens are appropriately spaced apart so you don’t crowd the root systems.
- Sunlight: Generally, evergreen trees need full to partial sunlight for four to eight hours per day. Many trees also prefer full sun during the summer months and partial sun or some shade during the winter. If possible, consider planting on the north side of your home or property to ensure they get the proper amount of sunlight.
- Water and mulch: Keep the soil moist and water your trees regularly and deeply. Newly planted trees should be watered more often, about once per week, and older trees should be watered every two to three weeks. If it rains, you don’t need to water as frequently, but you should maintain a consistent watering scheduling during warmer, sunnier months. Additionally, you should mulch under the entire canopy of the tree to retain moisture in the soil, using wood chips or shredded bark.
- Fertilizer: Typically, deciduous trees need to be fertilized more often than evergreen trees. Fertilizing can also be useful for trees that are growing slowly or that are dealing with pests or disease. Use a complete or slow-release fertilizer in the spring or early summer.
- Pruning: Evergreen trees are relatively low-maintenance and, as such, usually only need to be pruned correctively. Prune any branches that are dead, damaged, or overrun with pests or disease.
Again, these are just general guidelines for evergreen care and maintenance. Always follow the instructions or recommendations specific to the type of evergreen trees or shrubs you have, and remember the care requirements needed for plants in your area, to keep them as healthy and beautiful as possible.
Common Pests and Diseases of Evergreens
Though they are typically easy to care for, evergreens are vulnerable to a variety of pests and diseases, some of which can be fatal to your trees if you aren’t careful. Some of the most common issues to be aware of include:
- Bagworm:strong> Bagworms are insects that create small silk “bags,” similar to cocoons, full of their eggs, that hang off of trees. They feed off of trees and can easily kill one if left unchecked. When they are still in their bags, simply cut them off of your tree; if there are too many, you may need to use a pesticide to get rid of them (be sure to pick one that’s safe for kids and pets!).
- Borers and caterpillars: Insect borers (particularly moths and beetles) and caterpillars can be similarly damaging. In addition to eating the leaves or needles of the tree, they also get under the bark and feed on the wood underneath. To get rid of borers, you’ll have to prune any afflicted shoots or branches; you’ll need to use Bacillus thuringiensis or other pest control products for caterpillars.
- Cankers: Cankers are dead areas on the bark, stem, branches, or leaves of trees. They are caused by fungus and look like discolorations or depressions on the bark. If any canker is on the trunk, it can be challenging for the tree to recover. However, if it is on the tree’s branches, you can remove or prune the branch.
- Rust fungus: Rust fungus appears as red or orange spores on the needles and leaves of trees. It can cause them to fall off and even kill the tree’s branches. You can prune or remove infected branches, or use a disease or fungus control product to keep minor infections under control.
- Shoestring disease: Also called oak root fungus, this disease kills the trunk and major roots of the tree. Symptoms of shoestring disease include discolored needles, mushrooms growing on the trunk, or dead branches (especially at the top of the tree). Unfortunately, this can kill the entire tree. Though it cannot be cured, you can work to prevent shoestring disease from developing by watering during the day and mulching the soil around the base of the tree.
Some evergreens are more vulnerable to these issues than others. Further, you may need to be wary of other pests or diseases, depending on what type of tree you have. No matter what, it’s important to be aware of what problems are unique to your trees or shrubs. To ensure the health and longevity of your tree, keep an eye out for any pests, disease, or other abnormalities so you can intervene quickly and appropriately.
Despite these potential problems, evergreen trees and shrubs remain a great option for landscaping. In addition to providing vibrancy and color, they can help with shade, sound, and privacy. Simply put, they are among the best trees to plant in your yard to keep your home lively and beautiful year-round.