Nothing can take your yard from dull to dazzling faster than beautiful evergreen trees. Trees and shrubs not only add aesthetic value, but can also increase privacy, decrease noise pollution, and give you more shade to enjoy your front or backyard. Even better, unlike deciduous trees, evergreens keep their pines and foliage through all seasons.
However, planting and caring for evergreens is costly and time-consuming. To make sure you’re not wasting your time or money on trees that aren’t suitable for your area or your needs, you must do your research.
Whether you’re looking for year-round shrubbery, simple green foliage, something tall or something low-maintenance, there is an evergreen tree type that will work in your yard. With proper information on tree type and care specifications, your trees will soon be healthy and thriving. In this article, we let you know everything you need to know about different types of evergreen trees and how to plant and care for each of them.
- How to Plant Evergreen Trees
- How to Care for Small Evergreen Trees
- What are the Different Types of Evergreen Trees?
- Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
- Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) – An Evergreen for All Conditions
- Thuja Green Giant (T. plicata x T. standishii)
- Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- A Classic American All-Season Tree: Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
- Leyland Cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii)
- Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca densata)
- Norway Spruce (Picea abies) – Hardy European Evergreen Trees
- Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
- Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
- White Spruce (Picea glauca) – A Tolerant Type of Evergreen
- American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
- Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis)
- An Evergreen Favorite: Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
- Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)
- Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)
- False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) – The Golden Tree
How to Plant Evergreen Trees
Whether you are buying trees that bloom in winter or pretty evergreens, it is best to buy pot grown trees that you can easily plant in your garden or lawn. Once you remove the packaging from your trees, allow them to de-stress by placing them outside in a shaded area and watering them.
If you are waiting a while before planting, be sure to water your trees or fast growing shrubs for partial shade every day or second day. Choose a good location for the tree depending on the type of evergreen it is, as you won’t want to move it after planting.
Keep in mind what it will look like as it grows, mainly if it’s a large evergreen tree, and be sure to avoid incompatible plants. To prepare the spot for planting, loosen the soil in an area at least three times as big as the pot.
Dig deep, remove weeds and roots, and add some organic soil and fertilizer to encourage growth. You want the hole for your tree to be two to three times the diameter of the pot though only as deep.
Soak the trees in their pots the evening before planting and then gently slide the packaging off after you relocate it to your chosen spot. To loosen the roots, you may have to tap the edge of the pot.
The roots will likely appear as a root-ball, and you want to leave this intact when you place the tree in the middle of your hole. Replace two-thirds of the soil, pressing it down around the roots.
How to Care for Small Evergreen Trees
Your ornamental evergreen tree won’t serve its purpose if you aren’t able to care for it properly and keep it healthy. Determine if you need trees for tough urban sites or if the trees don’t need to be quite that robust and hardy.
The most important thing to do to keep your small trees growing is to keep the soil moist and make sure they get the right amount of sunlight.
It’s easiest to use a soaker hose, watering the outside the perimeter of the canopy of the tree every 10 to 14 days, on average. You can also place a layer of mulch around the base of the trees.
Most of the evergreens on our list grow to staggering heights. If you prefer small evergreen trees for landscaping, it may be best to choose dwarf varieties or keep the trees in large pots so they don’t overtake their space.
What are the Different Types of Evergreen Trees?
There are several different types of evergreen trees that you can choose to plant in your yard from tall trees determined by the growth habit of trees. Unlike leafy evergreen shrubs, trees grow from a single central axis.
The most common types of trees that people plant for landscaping are pine, spruce, fir, cedar, thuja, and cypress. Within the evergreen family, there are different varieties of trees with specific characteristics.
You can find ornamental species and those designed as shade trees. Whatever you are looking for, there are evergreens to suit every purpose.
Fast Growing Evergreen Trees
Our list ranges from small evergreen shrubs to giant evergreens that tower over your property. Choose a variety of evergreens to enhance your landscape and you won’t be disappointed.
Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
The Colorado blue spruce is a big pine tree, so this is most suitable for areas with a lot of space. In gardens, it can grow anywhere from 30 to 60 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide. It is famous for its blue-gray pine needle color and smell and is one of the most common types of Christmas trees.
This type of evergreen requires partial to full sun and does best in moist but well-drained soil. It is native to Colorado, reaching to northern New Mexico, as well as Utah through Wyoming into the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
In areas with a mild climate, you can plant these year-round. However, in colder regions, the best time to plant is late winter through early spring – February through April.
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) – An Evergreen for All Conditions
Also known as the upright juniper, the Eastern red cedar is incredibly hardy and adaptable. It is ideal for harsh landscapes like rocky slopes or wet, swampy dirt.
They grow to 40 and 50 feet tall in the wild though will likely only grow to half that size on your property. In summer it has rich green foliage, which turns to a brownish-green in the winter.
The pyramid shape of this variety makes them great evergreen privacy trees. Full sun, meaning it needs at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, is perfect and it is best to plant them far from apple trees. They have a medium growth rate, increasing 13 to 24 inches per year.
Thuja Green Giant (T. plicata x T. standishii)
These large, fast growing evergreen trees have a natural pyramid shape with dense green needles. In winter, the thuja green giant darkens to a bronze hue.
Due to the compact nature of the foliage, it makes an excellent choice for a privacy screen or hedge. Once grown, it can withstand harsh weather such as wind and heavy snow and ice, making it great for colder climates.
The thuja green giant proliferates, at up to three feet per year, and is one of the fastest growing trees around. It will continue growing until it reaches a mature height of approximately 60 feet. It does best in full sun with partial shade.
Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
The Italian cypress is a tall, slender tree that resembles a dark green column. They can grow up to 70 feet or taller, though they only reach 10 to 20 feet in width. They are a fast-growing variety, sprouting up to 3 feet every year when planted correctly and in the right hardiness zone.
They thrive in the US Department of Agriculture’s zones 8 through 10, meaning along the West Coast and the southern regions of the country. You can even grow them as trees on the coast as they can withstand harsh winds and salt spray. It is best to plant an Italian cypress in the fall.
To keep these trees healthy, look out for spider mites by periodically shaking the branches and holding out a white sheet. If small red bugs fall onto your sheet, then blast water across the foliage to displace them.
A Classic American All-Season Tree: Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
The Eastern white pine is a prevalent tree in America with a long history. It has even been named the state tree in both Michigan and Maine.
This pine’s tall mature height of 80 feet or more makes it one of the ideal types of evergreen trees for privacy. It is famous for its long, soft needles and the cones the trees produce.
This type of pine is also one of the fast growing evergreen trees, growing up to 3 feet per year. It is suitable for hardiness zones 3 through 8 and requires full sun. It is best to plant them in spring or summer and to leave 20 to 30 feet between each tree when planting to allow for future growth.
Leyland Cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii)
With a slender shape and high tolerance for various climates and soil conditions, the Leyland cypress is widespread across the U.S. It is also a quick grower, and increases up to 3 feet per year. It requires full sun and grows to a mature height of 60 to 70 feet, spreading 15 to 25 feet wide.
This variety of evergreen can handle salt exposure, allowing it to grow and thrive in many areas where other trees cannot. Its feathery, soft needles make it perfect for fast growing trees for privacy and windbreak.
Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca densata)
The Black Hills spruce is a highly popular variety of white spruce, and it is only found naturally in a small portion of northeast Wyoming and southwest South Dakota, particularly the Black Hills.
However, it can survive in many other regions and will thrive in the same areas as the Colorado spruce. It has bright green needles that grow in a dense, compact design, making it ideal as a living privacy barrier.
This spruce tree adapts very well to cold climates and is resistant to injury in the winter. It requires full sun and partial shade and slowly grows to a mature height between 30 and 60 feet. The Black Hills spruce is a low-maintenance tree that requires little pruning.
Norway Spruce (Picea abies) – Hardy European Evergreen Trees
Though it is popular in the U.S., this tree, as the name suggests, is native to Europe. It is tolerant of many soil variations, making it very hardy.
With thick branches, it is also ideal for shielding wind. These evergreens are also relatively large, growing up to 60 feet.
The dark green foliage and purplish-red cones make this a beautiful choice for any landscape, and its fast growth of 3 feet a year make it popular for commercial and residential properties. It is best for hardiness zones 3 through 7.
Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
This evergreen is the national tree of Japan but is also very popular in the U.S., thriving in zones 5 through 9. The Japanese cedar can grow up to 80 feet tall, though there are shorter varieties that grow between 10 to 12 feet. This tree grows in a loose, tiered pyramid shape, with small needles that turn from blue-green to dark, black-green upon maturity.
Due to its large size, you must be careful when planting. In addition to this tree’s height, it can grow up to 30 feet wide, making them great for windscreens and borders, though it does have a slow growth rate. It prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade.
Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
This native European evergreen has a dense, dark green shape, making it a favorite for ornamentation and as a windbreaker. It also stabilizes soil and restores scarred land. This type of evergreen even survives well in both city and seaside conditions, and through heat and drought. It prefers full sun.
The Austrian pine has a medium growth rate, so it doesn’t take too long to reach its mature height of 50 to 60 feet. It spreads 20 to 40 feet in width. You can plant this tree in most parts of the U.S, in zones 4 through 7. The Austrian pine is also known as the black pine.
White Spruce (Picea glauca) – A Tolerant Type of Evergreen
The white spruce is an adaptable evergreen tree that can tolerate most soils and withstand most weather conditions, including heat, wind, cold, drought, crowding, and shade. It remains a beautiful blue-green year-round, though it is most popular in the winter as a Christmas tree.
You can plant this type of tree in a large portion of the U.S., in hardiness zones 2 through 6. It grows tall in a straight and narrow formation up to 60 feet and spreads to between 10 to 20 feet wide. It prefers full sun and grows at a medium rate.
American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
The American Arborvitae is a tall, narrow evergreen that is great as a windbreaker or ornamental hedge. It has a thin pyramid shape and requires little upkeep after planting. It is easy to shear in the way you desire and thrives in most areas of the U.S., in zones 3 through 7.
It can grow up to 60 feet in height and 15 feet in width and grows at a slow to medium rate. It prefers full sun and acidic, loamy, clay, moist, fertile, wet, sandy, and well-drained soil conditions.
Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis)
For evergreen plants for hedges, you can’t go wrong with the Canadian hemlock. This tree is a popular evergreen because it is easy to prune to any shape or height. It is also able to withstand full sun and full shade, though it thrives in an area where it receives both.
You can plant a single specimen, but it works quite well for hedges and privacy screens, too. These trees must be planted at least two feet apart to ensure that the roots below ground and the branches above ground have room to spread over time.
The Canadian hemlock grows in a pyramid shape at a slow to medium rate and reaches up to 35 feet in width and up to 70 feet in height. The Canadian hemlock thrives in zones 3 through 8.
An Evergreen Favorite: Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
With its spire-like shape, this evergreen is often a feature in garden landscapes, though it is also great for screens. It does best in moisture, both in the air and in the soil, and suffers in hot, dry winds. The colors of its soft needles vary depending on the seed source, though the blue-green foliage is most popular.
The Douglas fir grows from 40 to 80 feet tall and is suitable for hardy zones 4 through 6. This type of evergreen tree is one of the most popular.
Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)
This cedar evergreen is perfect for warm climates and thrives in zones 7 through 9. It is a fast-growing variety with dense branches when young. The branches grow into a gently weeping formation with age. It adapts very well and has blue-green needles, making it perfect for landscaping.
The Deodar cedar is useful for more than its beautiful appearance. It naturally produces oil that deters insects with its smell. It prefers full sun and grows at a medium rate and will reach a height of 40 to 70 feet, spreading to 20 to 40 feet upon maturity.
Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)
Concolor Firs are adaptable evergreen trees for dry soil, hot conditions, and cold winters. However, it thrives in moist soil with good drainage. The unique needles are blue-gray with a white luster, making it a favorite.
They grow up to 60 to 80 feet tall with cone-shaped, tiered branches, making them perfect for a privacy screen. Concolors grow best in hardy zones 3 through 7. It is not a city tree, so it doesn’t tolerate urban conditions like pollution. It does best in full sun or partial shade.
False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) – The Golden Tree
The false cypress is a unique, dense tree perfect as a foundation plant, hedge, or feature. Instead of the emerald green of most evergreens, this type has more of a gold hue, which is why some call it a “gold mop.”
It grows in zones 4 through 8 and can grow up to 70 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. New growth occurs at an average rate. This type of tree does best in full sun, though it can also tolerate light shade.
They grow in many soil types but may develop winter burn in colder climates, though damage trims easily.
Any of these entries on our evergreen trees list will make an excellent addition to your property. Whether you’re looking to build a hedge for privacy, to block out wind or noise, or for simple decoration, there is a type of evergreen that will thrive in your location and climate.
With our planting and care tips, you are well on your way to a more beautiful and practical yard. Visit your local garden or tree center to purchase your small evergreen trees or large and get started!
We hope you find this information on how to plant and take care of evergreen trees helpful. Tell your friends and family which types of trees are your favorite by sharing this list on Facebook and Pinterest.