Evergreens to Decorate and/or Add to a Landscape On the GO

12/15/2018 | Ken Davis

Here is a list of the top 10 evergreen trees that stand up to mountain wind, winter cold, and resist the naturally occurring insects and diseases found at higher elevations. You will find each at the garden center, and links are provided for further research and to buy directly from the farm.

Colorado Spruce

  • Con– Tree aphids like the taste of native ponderosas and of Colorado Spruces. They rarely do serious damage, and are easily spotted in mid-spring as new growth elongates.
  • Pro – Ancient specimens are living proof that this tree does well. Feed with aluminum sulfate to bring out the silver blue of this perfectly formed tree.   Size: 60’H x 20’W

Austrian Pine

  • Con – There aren’t many negatives other than that this is a fast-growing, big tree. It has been known to overpower walkways and eaves of a house when placed incorrectly in the yard.
  • Pro – The fastest growing of all mountain pines. Can quickly grow 18 inches a year, and even more when under the care of an attentive gardener.  Size: 35’H x 18’W


  • Con – Spider mites sometimes transfer from native junipers into the landscape. Watch for spider webbing in mid-summer and treat with Watters ‘Multi Purpose Insect Spray‘ for instant protection. Many folks suffer from juniper allergies. However, if you are irritated by junipers keep in mind you are surrounded by thousands of acres of native junipers so one line of ornamental junipers cannot bear the full blame for your ailments!
  • Pro – The toughest of all the evergreens with consistent growth over the season. So hardy they are the trees of choice for property investors and commercial property owners.  Many can be hedged and sheared to perfection.   Size:  varies

Piñon  Pine

  • Con – In early spring our native piñon is prone to scale that is easily treated. (The non-native Two Leaf Piñon Pine sold here at Watters is preferred for it’s larger pine nuts and its natural  ability at fighting off scale.)
  • Pro – Once established can grow completely on its own. A true native evergreen in the mountains, it is perfect for naturalizing the scars of construction.   Size: 15’H x 10’W

Vanderwolf Pine

  • Con – Unreceptive to thick heavy clay soil and/or a gardener with a heavy hand on the hose. Don’t overwater this evergreen or you could lose it within the first year of planting.
  • Pro – The color is stunning. Requires little to no pruning.  Very low water user.  Size: 25’H x 12’W

Fat Albert Blue Spruce

  • Con – I really can’t think of any cons for this tree! I did see grubs eat some roots of a Fat Albert this spring, but that is a very rare sight.
  • Pro – Intense silver-blue needles adorn this tree. The choice for those that love a Christmas tree shape but need a tree with a small footprint. Size:  25’H x 12’W

Dwarf Alberta Spruce – This slowest growing of the evergreens is the easiest to maintain.  Its perfect cone shape displays dense green soft-to-the-touch needles. Although it often is used to make a formal statement in a garden, it is excellent as a container plant or miniature Christmas tree. 

  • Con – Watch for spider mite webs that can form in June. Spider mites like the taste of an Alberta Spruce but are easily thwarted by using Watters ‘Multi Purpose Insect Spray‘ for instant protection.
  • Pro – A small format evergreen that needs little to no maintenance, but has that classic evergreen look and feel. Perfect for large containers framing the garage, accenting decks, and highlighting pots at the front door.  Size:  8’H x 3’W

Arizona Cypress – This tree is a real celebrity in the local garden world.  Often mistaken for a juniper, but this blue evergreen forms a golfball-sized cone instead of juniper berries, making it less allergy- inducing than a native juniper.  Very fast growing and readily tolerates mountain soil, valley winds, and bitter winter cold.

  • Con – Carefully watch the frequency of irrigation the first couple of years after planting. If you are going to kill this evergreen it will be from over-watering, not from under-watering.
  • Pro – This fast grower should be a serious consideration for dry, dusty properties exposed to the elements of mountain living. Deer- and javelina-resistant. Size:  20’H x 10’W

Deodar Cedar – This fast grower has a central leader with soft branches that sway gracefully in the wind.  So large a tree that it fits only in the largest properties.

  • Con – Such a fast grower it often overpowers the landscape. Soft branches can break from heavy snowfalls.  Needs more regular feeding than other evergreens or it will become yellow and off-color.
  • Pro – Fast growing and drought hardy are this tree’s claims to fame. Size: 50’H x 25’W

Black Hills Spruce 

  • Con: A painfully slow grower, but methodical in its development.  Very sensitive to garden soils that do not drain properly.
  • Pro: An easy to grow pine with beautifully blue-colored needles. Slow, methodical growth means little-to-no maintenance is needed throughout this tree’s long lifespan.   Size:  35’H x 16’W

Norway Spruce   

  • Con – Such a fast grower it can quickly outgrow the average yard. Staking the young tree is necessary to keep soft, fast-growing leaders from bending in the wind.
  • Pro – Takes the funneled wind, intense sun, and bad soil better than most other evergreens. Loves growing at mountain elevation.   Size:  50’H x 25’W

Links to Local Planting Guide & Proper Irrigation

 Planting & Delivery Service – Evergreens are unusually bulky and heavy so while being installed in a landscape can inflict bodily damage to the installer. So consider having the garden center plant it for you; you will consider the cost as money well spent.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or  FB.com/WattersGardenCenter