When flowers and perennials have faded in winter, evergreen trees are among the structural elements in the home garden. But even during the summer months, pine, boxwood and co. are real eye-catchers; between the clusters of colorful flowers, the evergreen plants provide a green pool of tranquility within the gardens. As classic conifers, species such as pine and spruce, but also boxwood and holly are cultivated. Decorative plants with scaly leaves, such as cypress or arborvitae, are also included.

Evergreen trees – spruces

Spruce is often cultivated as a traditional source of structure in the home garden. The needles of the evergreen plant from the pine family are regularly arranged in a spiral manner on the branches and often present two conspicuous white stripes on the underside. The most important types of spruce grown in domestic gardens are:

High trees:

  • Red spruce: 25-40m tall, closed, conical habit and dark green leaves
  • Serbian spruce: 20m tall, slender conical habit, shiny green leaves, white stripes underneath
  • Oriental spruce: 15-20m tall, closed, conical habit, glossy dark green
  • Sitka spruce: 15-35m tall, broadly conical and loose growth, leaves are silvery-white underneath

Small trees and dwarf spruces:

  • Maned Spruce: 10-15m tall, spreading branches with mane-like drooping twigs
  • Blue porcupine spruce: up to 1m high, blue-green leaves

In dwarf forms, the needles are often very dense. Tall species, such as the red spruce, are used as solitary plants or for high cut hedges. This variety, which develops dark green needles, reaches a height of up to 40m. Over the years, however, the importance of the dwarf forms has increased significantly, which are used, for example, for the front garden within flower beds, sometimes also for heather or rock gardens or in plant containers. One of the most important dwarf forms is the blue spruce, which is used as a classic Christmas tree.

Most spruce species tolerate a location in the sun, the dwarf varieties of the blue porcupine spruce, the Sitka spruce and the oriental spruce also thrive in light shade. Basically, humid and cool conditions should prevail; Only the Serbian spruce tolerates heat and drought, while the urban climate is also tolerated by the Norway spruce and the Oriental spruce. These spruces are also particularly frost hardy, while all other varieties can show severely damaged twigs after severe frosts. Most spruce species are sensitive to air pollutants; Exceptions are the Serbian spruce and the maned spruce. A light to medium-heavy, fresh to moist substrate that has no surface compaction has proven to be suitable soil.

The pure species are propagated by sowing, while varieties are exclusively grafted. Planting takes place in spring or autumn. If the location is ideal, spruces are generally undemanding. The evergreen trees should be watered during periods of drought and also during persistent winter drought, interfering shoots should be shortened as necessary, and the parts of the plant that died after the frost should be removed. In addition to gray mould, which can be combated with a special fungicide, spruce caterpillars are increasingly found, which eat away at the needles, bark or cones. As a rule, however, no control is necessary here.

tree of life

A real eye-catcher in the home garden is the tree of life (Thuja occidentalis), which is mostly used as a hedge. The tree from North America, which belongs to the cypress family, forms a narrow, conical crown; various varieties are also available with columnar or spherical growth. The evergreen coniferous tree reaches a height of up to 15 meters, with the shoot tips and fruits in particular containing strong toxins.

As a location, the tree of life prefers a sunny area in the garden. The tree is just as decorative on its own as it is in groups of trees. The tree of life is also particularly popular as a hedge, which represents a decorative element within the green area. Dwarf varieties are also suitable for beds, rock gardens and for pot culture. The substrate used should be fresh to wet; then the plant thrives best. Although the tree of life is smoke-hard and tolerates urban climates very well, the plant shows an increased sensitivity to road salt. Otherwise little maintenance is required. Even a vigorous pruning, which is often done for decorative purposes, does not bother the plant.

Propagation can be done using the following methods:

  • pure varieties by sowing
  • otherwise via propagation
  • Planting best in autumn

In the wrong location and soil conditions, the tree of life tends to develop various diseases. Loamy, heavy soil in which waterlogging can easily occur, for example, then leads to the development of the soil-borne harmful fungus Phytophthora. Affected plants wilt or die. As a countermeasure, a change of location to better aerated areas of the ground must be carried out. A classic pest that can occur is the leaf miner. The typical damage is brown colored shoot tips. Special pesticides are suitable as a countermeasure.

The holly

With its lush green leaves and decorative, bright red fruits, the holly sets a particularly high-contrast accent within the green area. The plant presents itself either as a large shrub or tree, which grows cone-shaped, broadly bushy or narrowly upright, depending on the variety. Holly has glossy green, white or yellow patterned, leathery, spiky leaves on cultivars, white flowers, and pea-sized red fruits. The height of the plant varies between one and ten meters, whereby the plant can take up a total of six meters in width. The ideal location is an area in the garden that is in partial shade and offers a little protection. Cultivation is just as possible within groups of trees as in free-growing hedges,

Tip: Small varieties are also suitable for container planting.

The substrate used should have the following properties:

  • permeable
  • moderately dry to fresh
  • fumes
  • sandy

As a smoke hardy plant, holly is also suitable for cultivation in urban climates.
This type of evergreen tree requires little maintenance overall. A targeted cut is made if necessary. With hedges, the branches are shortened as specifically as possible with scissors. Young shrubs should be mulched during the winter months, while additional shading may be necessary in sunny conditions in summer. In the fall, the holly should be watered extensively.

The plant is propagated by cuttings in summer or by seed. The holly belongs to the cold germs. Planting is preferably done in spring. It must be taken into account that at least one pollen donor must be placed next to the female specimens so that the decorative fruits appear.

false cypress

The false cypresses are very high on the popularity scale of the evergreen garden trees. American species in particular are available for cultivation in domestic gardens. But East Asian species are also frequently used. The following varieties are among the most popular false cypresses:

  • Lawson cypress
  • Nutka cypress
  • Shell cypress
  • threadleaf cypress

The commonly cultivated American Lawson cypress is an evergreen tree that grows columnar when young, then later conical, with a distinctly nodding tip. Depending on the variety, the plant reaches a height of between one and 20 meters. The short, horizontally projecting branches are densely covered with dark green scale-like needles, while the cones are spherical in shape and light brown in colour. Column-shaped varieties are mainly used for hedges and in individual stands, low specimens are also used in rock gardens, beds, hedges or as a container culture.

The ideal location is a humid and wind-protected area in the garden that offers permeable, fresh and humus-rich soil. The smoke hardy plant is ideal for urban climates. Undemanding and robust, the Lawson cypress requires little care and is easy to cut. However, solitaires should not be cut if possible. Propagation is by cuttings and cuttings, with early autumn presenting itself as the ideal time for planting.

The shell cypress, which is particularly striking because of its shell-shaped branches, is often used in Japanese gardens, but also for borders, rock gardens and as a container culture. The plant does well in an area of ​​the garden that is partially shaded or shaded.

Note: The mussel cypress does not tolerate blazing sun!

A high level of air and soil moisture improves the growth conditions of the plant. Well-drained, fresh and humus-rich soil has proven to be the optimal substrate. The plant is smoke-hard and is only conditionally suitable for the urban climate. Otherwise, the cypress is quite undemanding, but you should not cut it. As with the American varieties, both cuttings and layering can be used for propagation; planting then takes place in early autumn.

All false cypresses can be infested by the bark beetle, whose feeding damage is noticeable by the individual, brown-colored shoots. Since no suitable countermeasures are known to date, infested plants should be destroyed immediately.


As an evergreen small tree or shrub, boxwood has been one of the most popular ornamental trees for centuries. The dense, bushy plant grows very slowly and reaches a height of up to six meters in old age. The dense foliage with ovate, glossy dark green leaves is particularly decorative. Traditionally, boxwood is used for artistic hedges, figures or balls due to its exceptional tolerance to cutting. Low varieties are also suitable for edging beds in cottage gardens or in tubs. For optimal development, certain site and soil properties must be taken into account:

  • Location in semi-shade
  • moderately dry to fresh soil
  • Substrate should be rich in humus
  • a proportion of lime is advantageous

Originally native to the Mediterranean region, the boxwood generally prefers warmth, but is still hardy in our latitudes. The rest of the care is also quite simple; a targeted pruning is possible all year round. A shape cut can be done with the help of templates and stretched cords. The boxwood is susceptible to numerous diseases. Fungal infestation occurs particularly frequently, which first manifests itself in the form of circular spots on the leaves and later in the form of wilting. If the infestation is detected early, a targeted pruning is worthwhile. Fallen leaves should also be removed from the soil.

Targeted pruning may also be necessary when the beech tree flea appears. The infestation is recognizable by the typical damage pattern – severely curled leaves. An insecticide applied in the spring can also be used to control it. The boxwood gall midge (Monarthropalpus buxi), on the other hand, is noticeable by blistering bulges with a dark dot in the middle. Severely affected shoots are cut back. If the animals, which overwinter as larvae in the leaf, hatched in May, an insecticide can also be used.

Evergreen trees beautify every garden and also provide decorative accents during the winter months. Whether you are a beginner or a passionate hobby gardener – there are selected evergreen plants available for every plant lover that can be used in different areas of the garden. Optimally cared for, the plants enrich the home garden over a period of many years.

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