Evergreens are sometimes the best choice.

Deciduous trees that were bare all winter are now foliating and making shade. They sure will be appreciated when the weather gets warmer through summer. They will defoliate next autumn, in time to let warming sunlight through while winter is cool. Their lifestyles are naturally compatible with those of the people who live with them. They really have the system down.

Evergreen trees are good at what they do as well. They obscure unwanted views and provide privacy all year. If given adequate space and located far enough away from the home and neighboring homes, their shade should not be a problem. Like any other feature in the landscape, properly selected and strategically placed evergreens are quite functional.

There are certainly more to evergreen trees than the coniferous (cone-bearing) evergreens like pine, spruce, cypress, cedar and juniper. Any tree that retains foliage throughout the year is evergreen, including camphor, Southern magnolia, carob, California pepper, coast live oak, fern pine, all palms and all eucalypti, just to name a few. There are really too many to list.

Larger modern homes on smaller parcels are a bit more challenging to evergreen trees than more traditional homes that have more space around them. Average fences do not maintain privacy for upstairs windows that are too close to neighboring homes. However, there is less space and sunlight for trees, and additional shade can be a bother for lower windows.

It seems that smaller trees are often the best fit for bigger homes. Sometimes, a large evergreen shrub, like one of the various pittosporums, can do the job of an evergreen tree, but fits better where space is limited. As silly and passe as they seem to be, Italian cypress are narrow enough to fit into tight spots, at least until they get too big.

Contrary to popular belief, most evergreen trees are messier than most deciduous trees. They drop only minor volumes of foliage, but they do so throughout the year. Deciduous plants drop most or all of their foliage within a limited time about autumn. Only those that drop flowers, fruit or both in spring and summer are messier than evergreens.

4 thoughts on “Evergreen Trees Have Their Place

  1. Since I took down the Japanese Yew, we are completely without evergreens. There are several eastern red cedars on the block, including one in the next-door-neighbor’s yard. But that’s it. Our problem is that they seems so boring, they don’t change much from season to season. Which I guess is a strength, but one I find hard to appreciate. Also, they tend to be too large, and dwarf conifers look ridiculous in my opinion.

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    1. Those who know the Eastern red cedar do not seem to like it. I can certainly understand why. They are rather boring. I just happen to really like mine because I am so completely unfamiliar with them. I brought them back from Oklahoma, and intend to put them in prominent situations as if they were ‘Hollywood’ junipers. I got them from the wild, and they are quite different from each other. They look like diminutive cypress trees so far. In your region, there are probably a few garden cultivars available that would not be so wild for a home garden. Well, that is of no use if you dislike them. Although there are many more cultivars of coniferous shrubbery available there than here, I have noticed that some of the dwarf cultivars that I have seen in the Pacific Northwest really are rather silly. There are many that I would like for small garden spaces. However, most of the gardens there are bigger. Some of those dwarf conifers just seem to take up space without contributing much to the landscape.


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