Conifer Design Ideas: Using Conifers In The Garden

Multiple Conifer Trees
conifer garden
(Image credit: Евгений Харитонов)

You may not put a lot of emphasis on conifers when you plan your garden design, but you definitely should. Designing with conifers lets you consider the look your backyard and garden will present in all seasons, not just summer.

As you are planning a conifer garden, you’ll want to consider bringing in trees and shrubs of different sizes, shapes, textures, and colors as well as mixing them to the best effect. Read on for tips about designing with conifers.

Conifers in the Garden

It is rewarding to start landscaping with conifers since your vision is only limited by your imagination and the size of your backyard. In a small area, conifers in the garden can mean a few compact specimens of various textures that accent a corner of a garden bed. In a larger area, you can select tall, impressive conifers as foundation plantings or garden focal points.

If you have ample room, it’s a delight to put in a conifer garden, an area of planting to showcase and celebrate these low-maintenance evergreens. You can have a mix of conifer shrubs and trees, blending a variety of textures.

Landscaping with Conifers

A carefully thought out conifer garden sets a mood, so as the gardener landscaping with conifers, you get to decide what that mood will be. A few tall conifer silhouettes are a good start to create a moody, brooding look while a grouping of shorter, broader conifer shrubs, especially those with gold- or orange-hued foliage, can create a happy mood.

To create an ambiance with conifers in the garden, it’s often easiest to select your focal plant first. The focal point will be a tree or grouping of conifers that attracts the eye when you approach. To integrate this into the rest of the garden you can use the texture of smaller conifers to soften the contrast.

Color is especially important when you are mixing conifers and texture plays an equal role in creating interest. Before you get too far in your conifer garden design, look in a garden center or online at the wild variety available. Conifers all have needles, but those needles can look quite different.

You’ll find silvery green, blue-green, gold-hued, and even purple-hued foliage. It is especially fun to include trees with needles that change color or hue with the seasons. In addition, each plant’s needles create a unique texture some bushy, some soft, and some spikey. Layering makes aesthetic sense and helps you create a unique and unforgettable mood.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.