Coniferous trees grow well throughout most Utah locations, bringing a splash of cool green to your landscape all year long.
These ornamental species are characterized by their evergreen needles that — unlike deciduous tree leaves — do not drop annually. And rather than produce seeds in fruit, coniferouss produce their seeds in the form of pine cones.
In Utah, we have five basic types of coniferous trees.
Spruce trees grow in a classic pyramid or cone shape. They are shade-tolerant, but require a fair amount of water. Some species of spruce can grow to 90 feet tall, but because they are slow growers, this can take up to 150 years.
Blue spruces and Norway spruces are both viable for growing in northern Utah, with the Norway variety offering several sizes and a unique “weeping” appearance. The Engelmann spruce, Utah’s official state tree, requires cooler growing conditions, making it appropriate for higher elevation locations.
Also known as “true firs,” fir trees feature flat needles and unique, upright cones that do not drop.
Some of the many varieties of true firs include white, grand and Spanish firs. White firs are well-suited to the Utah growing region, and have long needles and an intriguing blue color. Most varieties tend toward large size at maturity.
Douglas firs are of a different genus than true firs, with short, flat, flexible needles. Their characteristic blue-green color and short, pyramid shape are highly prized in Utah landscapes.
Douglas firs can grow 40 to 80 feet tall in the home landscape, but up to 200 feet in the wild. These coniferous trees are not drought-tolerant.
Pinyons, commonly known as pine trees, have cylindrical needles and the edible seeds are known as pinon nuts or pine nuts.
The two most common species of pinyon trees that can be found growing in Utah are the two-needle pinyon and the single-leaf pinyon. Featuring a pyramid or spreading shape, pinyons can reach between 10 and 30 feet at maturity.
Pinyons are valued for their seeds, their sturdy wood and their unmistakable fragrance.
The Utah juniper typically takes the shape of a bushy tree, with a dominant, forked main trunk and a rounded crown. Junipers are known to be hardy in drought and highly resistant to disease and pests. At maturity, Utah junipers can easily reach a height of 30 feet.
The Rocky Mountain juniper, which more closely resembles the iconic shape of a Christmas tree, is also a hardy species and can be found in a dwarf variety.
Dwarf Coniferous Trees
If you don’t have the space to devote to a full-sized coniferous tree, consider one of the many dwarf varieties that grow well in northern Utah.
Dwarf coniferous species are essentially the same plant as their full-sized counterpart, but they have been cultivated to reach a maximum of one-twentieth to one-fourth the size of the normal plant at maturity. You can also choose a pygmy form (one-twentieth size) or compact form (one-third to one-half size), based on your space availability.
Some of the most popular include the dwarf Alberta spruce, the weeping or miniature Norway spruce and the Mugo pine. The Mugo pine offers several interesting cultivars that work beautifully as Utah landscape shrubbery.
If you are not sure what size or type tree is best for your landscape, contact the expert Utah arborists of Reliable Tree Care. Based in Murray, Utah, we provide services to clients throughout northern Utah. Contact us today to learn more about planting and caring for Utah conifer trees.