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11 Evergreen Trees for Illinois for All-Year Color & Privacy


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Trees, shrubs, and annual plants bring life to the home landscape.

There are many different types of trees, and deciding what to plant can be tricky, especially if you are short on space.

Evergreen trees are those that retain their leaves throughout the year. These kinds of trees are useful for creating privacy screens to block out unwanted noises or sounds, as hedges, or to mark property lines.

To determine which evergreen trees will grow best in your IL yard, check the hardiness map of Illinois, and be sure to choose trees that are suitable for your zone.

11 Excellent Evergreen Trees That Grow Well in Illinois

1. Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata ‘Green Giant’)

green giant arborvitae
Image via Nature Hills

The Green Giant Arborvitae is capable of growing between 3 and 5 ft a year and is an extremely popular landscape tree throughout the US. It features a strong pyramidal shape that provides a strong accent in the landscape. The foliage is feather-like, begins right at the base of the trunk, and retains its green hue throughout the cold winter months.

The fast-growth rate, dense structure, and beautiful evergreen foliage make the Green Giant Arborvitae perfect for a privacy screen or to block out any unwanted views or peering eyes.

Other Common Names: Thuja ‘Green Giant.’

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 8-12 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills

2. Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Canadian Hemlock
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Canadian Hemlock is a tall tree with a pyramidal shape and a sturdy central trunk. The foliage consists of short dark green needles which are gray on the underside. Older trees can develop a furrowed bark with a gorgeous red/cinnamon hue.

Canadian Hemlocks grow best in moist areas in well-drained soil. Left unpruned they have a beautiful floaty form, but also can be pruned to your desired shape. These North American natives provide habit for many kinds of birds and small mammals throughout the winter months.

Other Common Names: Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

eastern red cedar
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The Eastern Red Cedar is a tough tree native to the Eastern Seaboard, west to Texas, and north to South Dakota where they thrive in a variety of tough climates. They can tolerate heat, dry poor soils, air pollution, and a host of other adverse conditions. The foliage is dark green/silvery blue in the summer, turning an unusual shade of purple in the winter.

The Eastern Red Cedar is an ideal tree for bird lovers as it attracts a plethora of local birds, including waxwing, songbirds, warblers, grouse, wild turkeys, sparrows, and more, who will roost and nest amidst the branches.

The bark has a reddish/brown color and is used by birds to make nests. The cones produced by female trees are small, reminiscent of berries, and are also a food source for birds.

The Eastern Red Cedar grows well in either moist or dry soil, provided it’s not consistently wet.

Other Common Names: Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Red Juniper, Eastern Juniper

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Cryptomeria Yoshino (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’)

cryptomeria yoshino
Image by Mark Bolin via Flickr

The Cryptomeria Yoshino is perfect if you’re looking for a windbreak or privacy tree for a shaded area. They are coniferous, with tiered, horizontal branching, and are tall and dense trees with bluish-green summer colors, and purple/bronze in the winter when exposed to cooling winds They are fast-growing and develop a pyramidal shape that is greatly appreciated by landscapers.

Cryptomeria Yoshino is tolerant of a wide range of different soil types, as well as either shade or full sun.

Other Common Names: Japanese Cedar, Sugi

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-45 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Leyland Cypress Tree (Cupressus × leylandii)

leyland cypress
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Leyland Cypress is one of the most commonly planted coniferous evergreen trees in the US. It’s a hybrid between the Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and Nootka False Cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis).

It provides a dense screen thanks to its thick foliage and is capable of putting on 3-5 ft of growth a year. Furthermore, it’s drought tolerant once established and doesn’t require any maintenance unless you want to train it into a hedge. Left to their own devices they mature into a pleasing symmetrical shape.

Leyland Cypresses will grow in a variety of different soil types, including sandy or clay soils.

Other Common Names: Leylandii

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Densata’)

black hills spruce
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Black Hills Spruce is native to some of the coldest areas of the United States, meaning it’s more than equipped to deal with IL’s winters. They have a cone-shaped, compact growth habit and dark green foliage and are popular as privacy, as well as accent trees.

Once established, the Black Hills Spruce will tolerate salt, and drought, making it well-suited for the urban landscape. For best results, plant in areas with cool summers and cold winters.

Other Common Names: White Spruce

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

norway spruce
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Norway Spruce is a solid accent tree or windbreak in cold areas. The growth habit of this tree is pyramidal, even when young, and features upright branches covered in drooping secondary branches that lend a carefree ease to its silhouette. The seed cones are cylindrical and hang lazily off the secondary branches.

Norway Spruce is capable of growing up to 2 ft a year and attracts many birds including songbirds. The foliage consists of short, dark green needles with soft tips that can be used to make a herbal infusion with numerous health benefits. Norway Spruce require well-draining soil and are not drought tolerant so may need supplemental irrigation in prolonged periods without precipitation.

Other Common Names: European Spruce

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Spartan Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’)

spartan juniper
Image by Drew Avery via Flickr

The Spartan Juniper grows in an upright position at a fast rate. It’s tolerant of heat, cold, salt and drought, and almost all soil types, making it a warrior suited to harsh urban conditions. Its columnar, dense growth means it makes a good hedge, privacy screen, or windbreak.

The Spartan Juniper is perhaps the most popular juniper due to its robustness and versatility.

Other Common Names: Chinese Juniper

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 4-5 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A.

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika)

serbian spruce
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Serbian Spruce is an elegant tree with arching branches a thin, straight trunk, and a pyramidal shape. The needles are light green/blue and the cinnamon/purple cones mature to dark brown. The needles are dark green and flat, up to 1” in length. It’ll tolerate all urban conditions apart from salt.

Plant the Serbian Spruce in deep, moist, well-drained soil, in partial shade to full sun. It grows at a slow-to-medium rate.

Other Common Names: Pančić Spruce

Growing Zones: 4-7

Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills

10. Colorado Spruce (Picea pungens)

colorado spruce
Image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr

The Colorado Spruce is perfect for those after a windbreak in cold areas. It’s a coniferous tree with a pyramidal shape, even when young.

The branching pattern of this spruce tree is upright and features drooping secondary branches. The seed cones hang gently and beautifully off the pendulous branches, which provide food and habitat for wild songbirds.

The Colorado Spruce is relatively fast-growing, capable of growing up to 2 ft a year. It grows best in moderately moist, well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 12-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

11. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)

austrian pine
Image by Miltos Gikas via Flickr

The Austrian Pine is a splendid choice for windbreaks, having been tested in the windiest parts of the country, according to FastGrowingTrees.com, where they thrived. These pine trees are also tolerant of urban pollution, and a variety of soil conditions, such as poor soils and those with high clay content. They can even withstand harsh salt sprays.

Water well initially. Once established it should be fine with just rainfall, but will appreciate supplemental water in extended hot and dry periods.

Other Common Names: European Black Pine

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Illinois Forever Green

Evergreens provide color, habitat, and food when other deciduous trees have gone dormant for the winter season.

They are also useful in blocking out unwanted sights and sounds and as windbreaks to protect other more delicate plants and trees in the home landscape. Planted on the north of your property as a windbreak, evergreens can help keep out the cold northern wind, making your home more energy efficient.

Evergreens also provide some respite against the long bleak winters of IL by providing bursts of color throughout the long cold season.

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