Should you be trying to use more evergreen trees in your designs and landscape projects? Evergreen trees are very valuable, as they retain their foliage all year round. This huge advantage is amplified in an urban setting where they will provide critical structure, beauty and screening for everyone to appreciate.

Historic and Modern Markers

Traditionally, our native pine (Pinus sylvestris) was used as a marker in our natural landscape, to indicate the edges of a property or the route of a drive, or to help pick out a safe route across open, boggy moorland. Such planting still exists today and when you look at our landscape, trees are often placed fairly strategically, marking ancient routes or avenues.

Majestic cedars always grace the grounds of beautiful country houses and the very oldest and most incredible yew (Taxus baccata), will always be found in a historic churchyard.

Evergreen trees have had huge historic importance, but they are equally relevant today and contribute to the future landscapes we are creating. In urban areas, our evergreen trees still stand out, marking entrances to headquarters, defining a new cycle route or creating and defining a new vibrant urban square.

Healthy Trees

All trees are environmentally important and evergreens will work for us all year round. Pines are excellent at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) and help to produce clean air. Additionally, they provide shade and shelter and their canopy is there to help filter the rainfall and slow down the runoff of water during the critical winter months. Valuable and very hardworking, these evergreen trees are important for our nation’s health and well-being.

Some of our recommended pine species include:

Pinus nigra

A large and impressive tree. Ideal for screening and windbreaks and excellent in urban, coastal and exposed environments and tolerant of most soils. View Pinus nigra

Pinus sylvestris (‘Scots Pine’)

Our native pine is a large, spreading tree. Initially pyramidal in form, ultimately the tree will open out and form a really attractive, irregular shape, often with the branches spreading and high on the bare leggy trunks. Each plant will be completely individual. These look especially good when planted in groups. Pinus sylvestris can be identified by its striking orange-brown bark and needles which are bluish-green. View Pinus sylvestris

Pinus sylvestris mature tree in field. Credit Kevin Hobbs

Encouraging Individuality

Over recent years at Hillier, we have been producing our pine trees not only as traditional standards and feathered but also as multi-stem forms, pom-pom pines, windswept pines and natural pines where the inherently curving trunk and sweeping branches are encouraged and emphasised rather than controlled. These pines are a bit different and add instant character to a site.

Evergreens at Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle is a vibrant, multi-use and multi-phased development by Lendlease, in the heart of London. Hillier is the long-term tree supplier for this project and it has been quite amazing to watch this transformation of an urban area and the impact the trees have made — especially the evergreens.

Visiting one dull February day, the recently planted public open space was already functioning and vibrant, edged with coffee shops and restaurants. Informal groups of pines have been arranged in the square, forming little copses which give character and scale. The pines, selected by Landscape Architects Gillespies from Hillier, have natural trunks and informal heads and are already working together to form a soft unified canopy. All of the planting here is very clever and designed to perform to its maximum all year.

Deciduous and evergreen trees work so well together in the natural landscape and frequently the evergreens will quietly support the impressive seasonality of the deciduous trees with the beautiful spring flowers or fabulous autumn colour. Look to nature and be inspired by her work and you will never go wrong.

Elephant and Castle Pine Trees

Caroline Swann

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