Evergreen trees keep their foliage all year, making them a good addition to any landscape with enough space to accommodate their size. Some varieties of evergreens can grow to 60 feet or more at maturity. However, evergreen seedlings require particular care when planting and through the first years of growth.
Prior to planting your evergreen seedling, consider several important factors. How big will your tree be at maturity? Evergreens can live for 100 years. Consider how close you are planting to your home, power lines, driveways, fences and sidewalks. Is the species you are planting native to your area? Planting a nonnative tree will likely result in poor growth. Is your seedling a drought-tolerant variety or does it require more water? Plant drought-tolerant seedlings near other drought-tolerant trees and shrubs.
Most evergreens prefer well-draining soil and plenty of sun. Choose a site where the tree will have plenty of room to grow without crowding out other plants. Ideally, choose a site where the seedling will have some protection from harsh weather elements, particularly wind. At maturity they will be able withstand most weather conditions, but as seedlings they may need extra care.
Seedlings can come as bare-root plants, meaning their roots are fully exposed. You can also purchase balled-and-burlapped seedlings, seedlings that have been grown in the soil and then dug for resale. and seedlings grown in containers. How your seedling is packaged will determine how you plant it. Request specific planting instructions from the nursery of purchase or contact your extension office for help.
Keep in mind several general planting rules no matter how your seedling is packaged. Plant seedlings when they are dormant, typically between January and March. The hole you plant the tree in needs to be deeper than the length of the seedling's roots to keep them from growing crooked. A good rule of thumb is to make the hole at least twice the size of the seedling's root ball. Be careful not to tear roots. If roots are balled or bound around the soil, cut them carefully and minimally to loosen. Remove hard, clay soils from the bottom of the hole, if necessary. Clay soils do not drain water well.
Water well at the point of planting to help the soil settle around the roots. Then water every 10 days during the first growing season. The larger the seedling is at the time of planting the longer you may have to supply water on a regular basis. Most evergreens will take three to five years to establish themselves. Until they are established you will have to monitor them regularly for watering needs. A special note: if your seedling is bare root, soak the roots in water for 24 hours prior to planting.