Caring For Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees provide years of perpetual color to your landscape with a little care while planting and some occasional pruning.

Evergreen trees provide year round color and protection from the sun and wind. They are ideal foundation pieces to any landscaping area, and with a little bit of care, will last for years in your garden.


After the first year of growth, evergreen trees can normally survive on average rainfall. However, if the summer and early fall were a dry season, then you will need to water your trees several times during the late part of fall. Evergreen trees need stores of moisture to get through the winter months when the ground is frozen since it hampers their ability to absorb water.

Evergreen trees can also be damaged by too much water. If the soil has poor drainage or the tree is watered excessively, the tree's roots will suffocate and the tree will starve for nutrients. One solution is to avoid over-watering your evergreen by soaking it only when the leaves or needles appear dry. If the soil condition is the problem, work in organic material around the roots to encourage drainage.

Fertilizing Your Trees

Healthy evergreen trees do not need fertilizers. However, if you want to encourage new growth or need to help a diseased tree, then apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the fall and early spring. Newly transplanted trees should not be fertilized because their roots can be easily burned by the chemicals.

Yearly Maintenance

Evergreen trees do not like to compete for water and nutrients, so you will need to keep weeds away from its root system by weeding at least once a month. The soil around your tree can be cultivated up to two inches deep, but if you go any deeper, you will disturb the tree's roots. Also add a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to keep weeds down and retain moisture in the soil.


Evergreen trees only need pruned to remove damaged branches and maintain the tree's shape. Diseased and damaged branches should be removed as soon as they appear. However, do not cut the branch flush with the trunk or the main body of the tree will be prone to disease and decay. Instead, cut the branch at a 45 degree angle just before the branch collar, the thick tissue ring at the base of the branch.

You can lightly prune your evergreen trees to help them maintain their natural shape. Young trees should have only one main leader branch at the top. If there is more than one, remove the weaker branch to prevent the tree from forming a fork in its trunk. Sucker branches can also be pinched off, but more heavily pruning should be avoided. Evergreen trees often do not regrow branches that have been removed or cut into the dead zone.

The best time to prune evergreen trees to maintain their shape is during the early summer, but damaged or diseased branches can be removed anytime. Heavy pruning should be skipped during the late summer or fall months since this will stimulate new growth that will be susceptible to winter frost damage.

Common Problems

If your evergreen tree's foliage turns brown during the winter and early spring months, then it has suffered from winter burn. Winter burn occurs when extreme cold temperatures damage new tree growth and starve the plant for water. Mulching around the base of the tree will help protect the roots, but new fall growth will always be vulnerable to winter damage. Once damage portions are removed, new growth will cover and fill in the bare spots.

Evergreen trees can also be damaged by fungus. There are several different kinds of fungi that can infect trees. The best prevention is to carefully inspect trees before purchasing them to be sure they have no signs of disease. Also, be sure to disinfect saws and pruning shears with Lysol between prunings. Once damage occurs, remove the damaged limbs. If your tree does not recover, you will then need to remove the tree to prevent it from spreading to other trees or plants.

By caring for your evergreen trees, you will ensure that they will have a place in your landscaping for years to come.

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