by Cris Carl for Networx
Conifers, made up primarily of spruce, fir, pine and hemlock, are an attractive and long-lasting addition to any landscape. Conifers naturally provide the bonus of evergreen color, which can serve as a backdrop or simple visual relief in a stark landscape. Conifers can be used in a number of creative ways as hedges and in rock gardens. So how do you get started planting and working with conifers?
Before You Buy
Childs said the first thing you want to do is find a reputable nursery. Second, you want to have your soil tested. “Everybody forgets about the soil,” said Childs. “Most conifers prefer a soil that is slightly acidic,” he said. Childs said that conifers, when they do drop their needles, help to provide needed soil acidity without overwhelming the tree.
Also, be sure you know what planting zone you are in. For example, Massachusetts is a Zone 5. Conifers that would thrive on Long Island, NY (Zone 7), would not be able to tolerate the level of cold in Massachusetts. Here is a link to the UDSA Zone Map.
“Every tree has its own set of needs,” said Childs. “Plant the right tree in the right place.”
Childs also said that a basic rule of thumb about conifers is that most do not like wet soils. Research the type of conifer you want to plant. Childs gave the example of the salt sensitivity of White Pines. “You wouldn’t want to plant them next to a major road or the salt run-off in the winter will kill them. Whereas the Pitch Pine you’ll find on the Cape (Cape Cod) is very salt tolerant,” he said.