How to Care for Evergreens


Gardeners choose evergreen trees to add year-round interest to the landscape. Evergreens don't drop their foliage with the coming of cool weather. These plants remain vibrant green while deciduous landscape trees and shrubs drop their leaves. Caring for evergreens requires careful selection of the proper planting location based on sunlight, soil and water requirements. These plants typically reach large sizes with maturity and require plenty of room for expansion.

Step 1

Choose the perfect location for the evergreen based on the plant's individual requirements. Select this site based on sunlight needs, soil condition, mature width/height of the plant and ability to complement other aspects of the landscape.

Step 2

Work the soil using a rototiller or cultivator to a depth of at least 12 inches. Loosening the soil creates the perfect environment for evergreen roots to spread readily in the softened soil. This task can also be performed with a shovel. Make sure to loosen the soil 4 to 6 feet outward from the center of the planting site.

Step 3

Add a layer of organic material such as compost or peat moss to the planting bed. Mix three parts soil to one part compost or peat into the planting bed using a cultivation tool. This mixture creates highly organic soil that discourages the clumping seen with poorly drained soils. Organic additives also increase the nutrient content in the soil.

Step 4

Dig the planting hole using the spade shovel double the height and width of the root ball. Cut the twine holding the burlap in place around the roots or slice the plastic container around the roots. Remove any plastic pieces but leave burlap in place. Burlap can be placed in the planting hole without harming the evergreen.

Step 5

Position the evergreen in the planting hole so the top of the root ball lies 2 to 4 inches below the soil level. Fill in around the root ball and press down on the soil carefully to firm it. Fill in any remaining indentations and blend the soil into the rest of the garden using a rake.

Step 6

Add a 4-inch layer of mulch around the planting area to retain moisture and protect roots during the planting adjustment period. Water the evergreen by placing a light flow of water at the base of the plant to allow water to seep deeply into the soil. Continue watering regularly until the plant becomes acclimated to the new location. This transition often takes up to a year, especially in areas experiencing dry weather.

Step 7

Prune dead, damaged or diseased foliage from the evergreen as soon as you notice these areas. It is best to prune in the spring before new grow begins but removing damage quickly will often save a struggling evergreen. Use lopping shears for branches larger than 3/4 inch in diameter and pruning shears from smaller branches. Tree saws should be used for any limbs larger than 2 inches.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rototiller or cultivator
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Rake
  • Utility knife
  • Mulch
  • Garden hose and water
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning loppers


  • University of Illinois: Winter Interest
  • University of Wisconsin: Evergeens: Planting and Care
Keywords: evergreen care, evergreen maintenance, care of evergreens

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.