Backyard Landscaping Ideas -- A Guide To Evergreen Trees And Shrubs

by Jim Johnson

Evergreen trees and shrubs are generally more expensive than their counterparts, although many feel that they are well worth the extra expense not only for their year-round beauty, but also their reliability and longevity. Evergreens can range all the way from broadleaved shrubs like rhododendron to the tall pines and spruces that many people think of as simply "evergreens".

Perhaps the most common of evergreen trees is the pine. It's noted for its long, soft needles and its rapid growth. In fact, they often attain 60 to 80 ft. maturity very quickly.Red pine is popular as well and useful for creating textured backgrounds and windbreaks. The Ponderosa pine is a more compact tree that is often used for wind protection and ornamental purposes. The Austrian or black pine, with its spreading branches is very commonly used in the Midwest.

Perhaps the most widely planted evergreen that is used for a windbreak is the Norway spruce tree. It grows very fast, it's very hardy, has short dark green needles, and is shaped like a pyramid. The Black Hills spruce tree is also very tough and resistant to drought. It grows much slower than the Norway spruce but can still achieve a height of 40 ft. in time.

White spruce on the other hand, can mature close to 60 to 70 ft. in height and is often used in landscaping designs. Colorado blue spruce is generally hardy, however it does suffer some in extreme heat and drought conditions.

Red Cedar is perhaps the most popular of the evergreen Cedar trees. It's often used as an ornamental tree for both hedges and windbreaks. It tends to be very tough and hardy, and takes winter very well.

Perhaps the best overall Evergreen tree for windbreaks and screening is the Douglas fir tree. It's hardy and drought resistant, grows fast, has a pyramid shape, and looks great in most landscape designs. The Balsam fir, which is also known as the Christmas tree, is well-known for its fragrance and unique appearance. On the other hand, the white fir tree has an attractive silver color instead.

The Juniper family of Evergreen trees is often used in planting, with the tall types such as the upright Juniper being used as a textured background, and the spreading types like the Pfitzer juniper being used for groundcover and edgings.

Yew, has thick glossy needles and upward reaching branches, and can be used as both a shrub and a tree. In fact, they can even grow well in sun and shade, making it one of the most versatile evergreens.

Evergreens as a whole can be adversely affected by hot, dry weather conditions and need to be watered every couple of weeks or so at this time. Be sure to water it enough so that the moisture will reach deep into the ground at least 6 in. or so. Applying a layer of mulch in dry weather can also help protect against moisture loss during this period.

It's a good idea to prune evergreens in the late spring just before the new buds appear. And in the late fall give them a good deep watering to help prevent the branches drying out and cracking under the weight of snow or the force of wind during the winter.

As you can see, there are a lot of varieties of evergreen trees that accomplish many different tasks in a home landscaping design. Hopefully this article will help you choose the one that will work best for your home and help you care for it properly too.

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