Pine trees are known for their aromatic, evergreen, needle-like foliage. These beauties tend to be low-maintenance and long-living, making them an ideal choice if you want to add year-round interest to your landscape. But, there are over 100 different types from which to choose!
Generally disease and pest-resistant, pine trees come in various shapes and sizes, some of which are more suitable for your landscaping needs than others. Below, you’ll find a list of the top six pine trees you should plant, with details on what they’ll add to your yard.
Weeping White Pine
Pinus strobus ‘Pendula,’ also known as the weeping white pine, is a dwarf variety with long, twisting branches. Its shape differs from other pine trees, with branches that grow horizontally and begin to droop with length (hence the name “weeping”).
Because of its short height — around 6 to 16 feet, you can prune and train the weeping white pine to act as ground cover. Prune the tree to maintain a leading central branch, or it might become more of a shrub than a tree.
Plant weeping white pine trees in full to partial sun in well-drained soil high in organic matter, such as compost. Also, plant the tree somewhere it is not susceptible to wind damage. Keep an eye out for pests, including bark beetles, sawflies, and pine beetles.
‘Uncle Fogy’ Pine
Also known as Pinus banksiana or Jack pine, ‘Uncle Fogy’ pine trees grow 35 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. Medium in size, the tree has a unique look with a pyramid shape and irregular growth. Due to its low shade tolerance, lower branches that don’t get enough sun tend to die but remain on the tree, creating a scraggly look.
Plant these trees in full sun for optimal growth. While loamy, well-drained soil is best, the trees survive in poor soil conditions. Locations with cool summers and very cold winters, such as zones 2 to 6, provide optimal weather conditions for healthy growth.
Sciadopitys verticillata, or Japanese umbrella-pine, gets its name from the shape of its foliage. Each branch grows bunches of pines that spread out like the spokes of an umbrella.
In their native Japan, the trees grow to heights of 65 to 100 feet, though they are generally 25 to 30 feet tall when grown in the US, with full and luxurious-looking foliage. They tend to be slow growers and usually only reach heights of 4 to 5 feet in their first decade.
This pine tree naturally grows in forests with high rainfall and humidity and is, therefore, best grown in zones 5 to 8. Plant in full sunlight in well-draining soil and keep sheltered from winter winds.
Contorted White Pine
As the name suggests, contorted white pine trees, or Pinus strobus ‘Contorta,’ have contorted foliage, irregular growth patterns, and twisted trunks and branches. They grow in an upright pyramid shape and measure up to 15 feet tall and 6 feet wide, reaching maturity after 10 years.
This variety of pine tree prefers full sun but survives well in most types of soil. With that said, sandy or gravelly soils work best. The trees also tolerate windy conditions, making them the perfect addition to a seaside landscape. Or, you could plant them along the edge of your property to block winds and add a unique touch to your backyard landscape.
There are two varieties of bristlecone pine: Pinus longaeva and Pinus aristata. The former is native to California, Nevada, and Utah, and the latter grows in the mountains of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The trunk of the tree twists and tapers upwards and boasts blue-green foliage.
Bristlecone pine has very dense and tough wood, making it resistant to diseases and pests. It survives in many soil conditions (e.g., dry, infertile, and rocky), making it incredibly low-maintenance. Remember to plant in full sun and in an area protected from high winds. Avoid overwatering bristlecone pine trees as they are susceptible to root rot.
Fun Fact: Bristlecone pines are so old they’re prehistoric. Located in the White Mountains of California, a Pinus longaeva tree known as “Methuselah” is around 4,854 years old — and may possibly be the oldest living organism on Earth.
Swiss Mountain Pine
Pinus mugo, or Swiss mountain pine, has a rounded, bush-like shape with multiple stems. While many cultivars are available, some varieties can also be more tree-like and grow to heights of 20 to 25 feet and spread from 25 to 30 feet. It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained loamy soils.
This tree is usually lower to the ground, making it the perfect addition to the edge of a landscape or as filler in your garden. You can also group it with other trees as a garden centerpiece or even grow dwarf varieties in containers on your patio.
Stop Pining and Start Planting!
Pine trees add depth and beauty to your landscape all year round, whether you choose to plant them along pathways, fence lines, or within your garden. The unique shapes and details of the options listed above make them a step above your classic Christmas tree pines, such as Douglas or noble fir, though they still have the low-maintenance perk that evergreens boast.
Do you have any experience growing any of these pine tree varieties? Share in the comments below!