Tips on choosing the right conifers for your garden

Conifers are good trees to have in a garden because they help provide form and shape. During the summer, they can serve as a backdrop to your bulbs, perennials and annuals. In the winter, your garden will still look substantial when filled with these evergreens. There are various factors to consider when planning to add these plants into your garden, including region, shape and use. Here are some gardening tips to help you get started:

What are conifers? Directly translated from Latin, the word conifer means “cone bearing.” There are 630 species of conifers that grow around the world. In America, there are vast forests in the Rocky Mountains and California.

What are conifers used for? Typically, they are used as timber. According to Kew, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the majority of sawn timber is sourced from conifers and there is an effort to limit deforestation and look toward more sustainable resources.

Selection
Conifers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, here is an overview of a few types:

Pyramidal – As their name suggests, these have a wide base that narrows toward the top. Use pyramidal conifers to create a centerpiece or for another decorative purpose.

Columnar – With their cylindrical shape, these are often used as a shrub border because of their tall height.

Globose – This term refers to conifers of a spherical from. They are great plants to place on either side of an entrance to create symmetry.

Dwarfs – These stunted conifers only reach three feet in height.

Regional planting
Organic Gardening spoke to a variety of experts to get their advice on which conifers to plant in various regions.

South – Junipers are a good choice, since they aren’t that widely used in the South. Also, consider planting threadleaf sawara cypress and Japanese plum, both of which are popular in the region.

Northeast – Look for types of pines that tolerate some drought and can withstand a strong summer heat. These include spruces, false cypresses and arborvitae.

Southwest – Pines work best in this region. The varieties with two or three needles fare well in drier climates.

Midwest – Look to dwarf conifers to plant in the Midwest. You can opt for container gardening with spruces and other varieties.

Pacific Northwest – Many types of conifers are native to this region. Opt for the weeping and upright types as well as Colorado spruces to keep your garden fresh throughout fall and winter.