With their varying shapes, textures, and needles, conifers are ideal for numerous landscaping purposes. They can help to disguise a fence or add a year-round shade of green to your yard. Plus, they're resilient and flourish in climates of all sorts.
It's important to the plant's health to dig the hole properly; it shouldn't be much larger than the diameter of the root ball, and the sides and bottom of the hole should be level. If you're planting on a grade, dig into the slope so that the top of the hole goes across the grade. Be sure to remove the twine from the roots of container-grown conifers, and tease them out so that they'll settle deeply into the soil. Pick the conifer up from the bottom -- handling it by the trunk can weaken smaller roots -- and place it into the hole. Fill the space around the roots with layers of soil, periodically tamping a layer down before continuing with the next one. Cover the soil with a light sprinkling of a time-release, low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as Osmocote, and water the tree about once a week if there hasn't recently been a heavy rain. Finally, spread a medium-size mulch under the tree to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth.
Arborvitae has a uniform conical shape. Its light and soil requirements are adaptable, and it is drought tolerant once established.
Japanese umbrella pine
With its linear, flat needles, which are arranged like the spokes of an umbrella, Japanese umbrella pine can grow as tall as 80 to 100 feet. It rarely reaches heights of more than 20 to 30 feet, however, because it's so slow growing.
With its distinctive green-black foliage, the plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtoniana 'Prostrata') thrives in conditions under which most conifers don't: It grows well in shade, tolerates wet soils, and flourishes in hot, humid conditions. It is a slow-growing plant, but this may be advantageous in gardens with limited space.