Conifers are great for all gardens, including a small urban garden!
All Conifer trees form seed-bearing cones. They are usually easily identifiable by their needle shaped foliage and most, though not all, are evergreen trees for your garden. Some are fast growing garden trees which become large features quickly; some are slow-growing conifers which provide very attractive groundcover. In addition, well-selected conifers can make excellent coniferous garden hedging.
Most conifers are undemanding. Once established, conifers rarely need to be watered, although during a prolonged drought in summertime – rare in Scotland! – water should be given. To keep conifers in prime condition a feed can be applied in late winter or early springtime.
Beware! Most conifers will not produce re-growth from old wood. So, planting and pruning conifer hedging needs to be thought through carefully; thereafter conifers make a wonderful hedging choice providing shelter, security, privacy and beauty.
Leylandii are often selected as hedging plants and have the great advantage of fast growth. But care should be taken when pruning as leylandii do not respond well to hard pruning and therefore need to be pruned regularly – a little and often. Yew, on the other hand, will recover after hard pruning making it, too, a favourite choice for hedging.
Pruning conifers is best done during the months of April to October.
Sourcing and planting conifers
Although they can be grown from seed, most gardeners introduce conifers to their garden by buying young plants from a garden centre or forestry outlet. An alternative to this is to engage a professional arborist to help you make your selection and to do the planting for you. This can be more economical in the long-term as a tree surgeon’s expertise will ensure you get the right plant for your ground conditions and will also ensure best planting conditions are provided.
If you are choosing your own young conifers, remember to pick good quality plants that are not too old. The older a tree is, the greater the risk that it will not transplant well.
Once planted, a young conifer may need to the watered for the first two years or until well-established on its own roots. The key is to have the soil moist; not dry and not soggy. And a young tree will benefit from feeding too, perhaps twice per year (late winter and summer) during those first two formative years.
So why plant Conifers?
- All year round greenery (most conifers)
- Wonderful shapes
- Shelter and privacy
- Attract wildlife
- Adds value to your property