Best Conifer Choices for Landscapes
Two conifer experts share the best choices for landscaping.
Looking for the right conifer for your backyard? We asked two conifer experts to give us their favorite choices for landscapes.
Rich Eyre of Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock, Illinois, suggests using sun-loving, intermediate conifers, such as Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Fastigiata'), Norway Spruce (Picea abies 'Cupressina') or white pine (Pinus strobus 'Fastigiata'), and larger conifers, such as steel blue Colorado spruces (Picea pungens 'Hoopsii', 'Thomsen', and 'Glauca Pendula'), to create visual barriers or to draw the eye out into the landscape. For shady spots, try taller cultivars of arborvitae (Thuja), yews (Taxus), or pyramidal hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) such as 'Lewis' or 'Geneva.'
Geno Neri or Neri Landscaping in St. Charles, Illinois, likes to arrange taller sun-loving junipers, such as the upright 'Wichita Blue' (Juniperus scopulorum 'Wichita') as a complementary-hued backdrop that allows the purple-leafed weigelia shrubs to shine. He's also likely to tuck dwarf varieties of arborvitae into rock gardens and arrange spreading junipers as foundation plantings.
Thanks to the wide array of dwarf and miniature conifer cultivars, clipped evergreen foundation edgings have given way to house-side groupings comprised of more natural shapes in stair-stepped heights. Try arranging spreading golden Chines junipers, such as Juniperus chinensis 'Saybrook Gold', along with a rounded semi-dwarf golden mugo pine (Pinus mugo 'Aurea') for a golden glow. Add in a silvery-blue Colorado spruce such as 'Montgomery' (Picea pungens 'Montgomery'), a greenish-blue rounded 'Blue shag' Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag') and earth-hugging blue rug juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) for contrasting colors and forms.
For a high-impact budget-minded entry garden, Eyre suggests combining boulders and dwarf perennials with inexpensive Norway spruce varieties, including Picea abies 'Pumila', 'Repens' and 'Elegans,' that will spread to 3 feet but only reach 2 feet in height in 10 years.
Small columnar conifers that work well as focal points in rock and alpine-type gardens include common junipers (Juniperus communis) such as 'Pencil Point' and 'Compressa'. For areas receiving only 4 to 5 hours of sun, try a pyramidal blue Swiss stone pine such as 'Glauca' (Pinus cembra 'Glauca') or a dwarf bluish columnar Douglas fir like 'Fastigiata' (Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Fastigiata').
Stop strolling-by neighbors in their tracks by planting dramatically draped conifers that feature weeping growth habits. Trailing evergreen boughs, cascading downward from the trunk, make conifers such as Picea abies 'Pendula' and 'Frohburg' and Picea pungens 'Glauca Pendula' sensational specimen plants.
For more information, visit Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery.