Evergreens offer the home gardener one of the hardiest additions to the home landscape. Evergreens add versatility to garden areas, year-round color and low maintenance. Evergreens serve as shelter for wildlife while providing consistent color to enhance flowering annuals and perennials. The key to successfully using evergreens in the landscape lies in choosing the proper location. Some evergreens come in dwarf varieties while others simply command plenty of growing room. Learning how to care for evergreens begins with choosing the optimum location and providing the best possible planting situation for the evergreen.
Choose a location for the evergreen based on grower recommendations provided with the plant. Check the planting container for an attached label or tab featuring planting requirements, watering needs, light tolerance and fertilizer recommendations. Follow the recommendations on this tab to increase the chances of successful evergreen growth.
Prepare the planting site by turning over the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Incorporate organic material such as peat moss or compost for a mix of two parts soil to one part additive. These additives boost nutrients in the soil and improve drainage.
Dig the planting hole 1 1/2 times deeper and wider than the root ball. Clip and remove the twine strings that hold the burlap in place. For potted evergreens, press down on the outside surface of plastic planting containers to loosen roots and soil. Lift the plant out of the container by firmly holding the evergreen right above the root ball. Don't tug to avoid damaging the roots. Cut away all plastic if freeing the plant from the plastic container becomes difficult.
Place the evergreen into the planting hole and gauge the planting depth. Add or remove soil to position the top of the root ball no more than 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil surface. Fill in around the evergreen's roots with loose soil and carefully compress the dirt. Avoid stepping on the soil to remove air pockets because excess weight may snap the roots.
Add mulch in a 3- to 4-inch layer around the base of the evergreen to encourage water retention in the soil. Evergreens require plenty of moisture during the adjustment phase. Water around the base of the plant with a soaker hose or garden hose with a light stream of water. This allows the water to seep slowly into the ground to benefit the plant roots.
Do not fertilize at initial planting or during the first year. Fertilize with appropriate evergreen fertilizer in the spring using a high-quality all-purpose evergreen fertilizer.
Monitor the condition of the evergreen in the spring to check the plant for dead or dying foliage. Evergreens don't require major pruning but dead limbs should be removed each spring to allow time for new growth. Clip back branches to a junction point with the main trunk or a connecting branch. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle to restrict wound size. If pruning to a branch isn't possible, prune close to the nearest new bud (looks like a little knob on the branch).