Grow Guide for Planting Evergreen Trees

Most Popular Evergreen Trees

evergreens in the landscape

There are many reasons to plant evergreen trees in your landscape. Unlike deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter, evergreens (including broad leaved evergreens such as holly trees and magnolia trees), and needle leaved evergreens (like pine trees and cedars), maintain their green color all year round. The best evergreen trees tend to be more drought tolerant, more cold tolerant, more tolerant of poor, nutrient-deficient soils, and require less maintenance than their deciduous relatives. Since they don’t drop their leaves all at once, evergreens are less messy. Evergreen trees make the best year-round privacy screens, windbreaks, and hedges. They also add color and texture to your garden or landscape.


Perfect Plants offers a great selection of evergreen trees for sale in all sizes, shapes, and textures for your home landscape. When we get your order, we ship your plants within seven business days (unless you request otherwise to have it held to a warmer date). Each plant is carefully packaged so that regardless of how the box is handled, your plant will remain unharmed in its individual container. 

If you are creating an evergreen hedge, privacy screen, or windbreak, check out Perfect Plants Grow Guides for Hedges (coming soon), Boxwoods, and Thuja Green Giant.


Selecting a Tree to Plant

magnolias are evergreen trees
Magnolia trees like full sun to establish strong root systems and maintain their dark green foliage.

Before you select any new type of tree for your landscape, do some research. Choose only trees adapted to your particular USDA growing zone. Select trees for which you have enough room to accommodate their eventual mature size. Some fast growing evergreen trees may mature quicker than you think and have fast growth rates. (You don’t want to have to move a tree or (worse) cut it down when it gets too big.) Select only evergreens that tolerate your sunlight options: Full sun, partial sun, or a more partial shade spot. Does the evergreen you’re considering require acidic soil, and if so, is your soil okay? Evergreens prefer well drained soil types.

Best Time to Plant Evergreen Trees

When your new evergreen arrives… If you aren’t ready to plant your new evergreen just yet, keep it in its pot, give it a good watering, and place it in a shady area. Water it every day, and do not let the soil become completely dry, nor stay soggy. 

You can plant a containerized tree any time of the year, but the best time is in early spring, so it will have an entire growing season to get established. It will also help reduce transplant shock if not planted in summer. Fall plantings are okay too but root growth may be stunted when the ground freezes.

Where to Plant Evergreen Trees

Consider the mature size of your new tree. Choose a site that will be able to accommodate the eventual maximum width and height of your new evergreen. You don’t want it rubbing against a building or wall. Be sure the soil pH is okay, and the tree’s sunlight requirements will be met. 


How to Plant Evergreen Trees

planting an evergreen tree
Planting new trees is fun for the whole family! Trees help reduce air pollution, increase home value, and add value to our lives!

Before starting, thoroughly water the soil in the nursery pot so that the tree’s roots are fully wetted. Place the pot on its side and carefully slide the root ball out. If the plant is stuck, you can slip a long-bladed knife around the inside edge to loosen it. Gently loosen some of the roots along the sides and bottom of the root mass, and pull them outward so they are not encircling the root mass.

It shouldn’t be necessary to prune any of the roots unless they are wound around the circumference of the pot. In that case, the offending roots should be shortened so that when they are in the ground they will quickly grow outward and not continue growing in a circle. Be careful to retain as much of the original soil around the roots as possible. Any root hairs that dry out will die. 

Dig a hole two or three times as wide, and a little deeper than the container your little tree arrived in. Do not add any fertilizer or soil amendments. Mound up some soil in the middle of the hole, 3-4 inches high, and place the center of the root mass on top of the mound, spreading roots out in all directions around the planting hole. Begin filling in the hole immediately.

Backfill until the top of the root mass is at the same level it was in the original nursery pot, never lower. You may have to pull the plant up as you backfill. When the hole is half filled, give it a good soaking of water. When the water has drained, readjust the depth of the stem if necessary and finish filling in the hole. Gently tamp the soil down.

Build a 3-6 inch high dike of soil on the surface around the outside of the root zone. This will impound water over the roots as it sinks into the soil. Water thoroughly. It’s a good idea to spread an organic mulch 3-6 inches deep over the root zone and beyond to help hold in soil moisture and prevent weed growth. You can use peat moss, hay, straw, leaves, pine needles, bark or wood chips, grass clippings, or compost. Keep the layer of mulch or organic matter at least 3-4 inches out from the trunk. Do not fertilize at this time. 

watering an evergreen tree
Water gives life to trees and plants. #1 rule when gardening.. don’t forget to water your plants!

Water every day or two for the first 2-3 months, until the plant is well established. Water the tree well especially during the dry season to establish roots.

The most common reason for any newly planted tree to die is the lack of enough water.

We don’t recommend staking a young evergreen unless it is in an especially windy location. If it gets whipped around a little, it just makes the trunk stronger. And, staked trees sometimes get broken above where they are attached to the stake.  

If staking is needed, drive two stakes into the ground on opposite sides of the little tree. Wrap some cloth around the trunk at about the middle and tie a rope from there to each stake. Remove at the end of the first winter. 


Evergreen Tree Care

fertilize your evergreen tree for flowers
Fertilizing your new trees and shrubs allows roots to grow and encourages new growth and flowering.

Most evergreen trees and shrubs should get one inch of water every week or ten days. If you’re having a dry spell, or you have sandy soil, you should water more often. If the leaves start to wilt or turn yellow, the roots probably aren’t getting enough water. 

Renew the mulch layer as needed to protect the roots from drying out and to smother competing weeds. Try to maintain the mulch layer 3-6 inches deep around the tree, but keep it a couple of inches out from the trunk itself. Use an organic mulch that will add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. 

Evergreen Tree Fertilizer

Fertilize evergreens each spring with a complete fertilizer, or one with a higher concentration of nitrogen. Slow release fertilizers are best. Follow label directions and be careful to not over-fertilize. The amount of fertilizer is very important for your new trees.

If you believe your soil might be deficient then perform a soil test at your local extension office.

How to Trim Evergreen Trees

Without any pruning, your new evergreen will grow into its natural shape. After its first year of growth, you can prune evergreen trees as you see fit. To maintain a hedge shape, you will need to shear several times during the growing season. To make it bushier, cut back new growth by about a third each winter. Prune the trees to maintain your desired shape and size.

At any time you may remove dead or diseased branches. Evergreen trees can take a heavy pruning and bounce back in no time. If trimbing back major branches, be sure to cut at the branch collar to reduce the risk of disease.

If you are having issues with your evergreens please check out our blog on How to Save an Evergreen Tree from Dying for more info.


Evergreen trees are beautiful in the landscape at all times of the year. We hope this guide to planting evergreen trees has been useful for you. If you enjoyed this article please comment and share!

What kinds of evergreens are you growing in your garden? What kinds are your favorite or do you desire to have? For us, our favorites are the Italian Cypress and Sky Pencil Holly.