How to Maintain Evergreens


Evergreens are an important addition to the home landscape, and can serve many purposes. Evergreens can act as a windscreen or privacy screen, act as a focal point for other plants, increase property values, add color to drab winter landscapes, serve as shelter for birds and wildlife. There are suitable evergreens for nearly any climate, and most are relatively drought and pest-resistant. Evergreens can be expensive, but if properly maintained, will live for many years.

Step 1

Water the evergreen often, and keep the soil moist during its first year. After the first year, water the evergreen deeply once every week during dry weather. Water the evergreen in late October or November to prevent injury to the roots caused by winter freezes and thaws.

Step 2

Spread 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of the evergreen to maintain even soil temperature, control weeds and retain moisture. Organic mulches are attractive, and as they decompose, they will enrich the soil. Good organic mulches include bark chips or shredded bark, straw or pine needles. Inorganic mulches such as gravel or sand will also work. Replenish the mulch as it decomposes or blows away.

Step 3

Fertilize young evergreen in late fall or early spring. Use a granular fertilizer formulated for evergreens, applied at the rate of 1/3 pound for every foot of height. Work the fertilizer into the soil with a garden fork or shovel, then water the fertilizer into the soil thoroughly. Don't allow fertilizer to come in contact with the foliage. Once the tree is 4 to 5 years old, it will require no fertilizer unless the soil is very poor, which is often indicated by yellowing foliage.

Step 4

Prune evergreens in early spring, if desired. Most evergreens will require only a light pruning to maintain the desired size and shape. If your evergreen needs more than a light pruning, contact a professional, as pruning techniques vary widely among different varieties. Never prune excessively, because it can sometimes take years to fill in overpruned foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Granular fertilizer for evergreens
  • Shovel or garden fork
  • Pruners


  • University of Wisconsin: Evergreens Planting and Care
  • Nurseryman: Evergreen Tree Planting Instructions
Keywords: evergreens, maintain evergreens, prune evergreens

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.