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Evergreens vs. Shade Trees (Pros/Cons/Uses)

By Ed Ball | Published on November 30, 2021 | 1 min read

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When it comes to choosing trees for your landscape, the choices can be overwhelming. Even when broken into two categories – those that keep their foliage vs. those that don’t – there are many considerations, all of which start with one question: What are your goals?


Trees serve many purposes, from adding beauty and creating privacy to reducing energy costs. Your needs and goals will help determine which trees will best accomplish the desired task. For starters, evergreens keep their leaves or needles throughout the year while shade trees are deciduous, which lose their leaves each fall and remain bare throughout the winter.


All trees benefit your ecosystem in your yard, providing shelter and home for animals, birds and beneficial insects. They also can improve the resale value of your home. If you’re not sure which tree will achieve your goals, these pros and cons may help.


Evergreen trees


  • Maintain their beauty throughout the year.
  • Provide year-round screening from neighbors and offer privacy.
  • Reduce sound while blocking wind and some air pollution.
  • Low maintenance – little pruning or shaping required.
  • Some varieties last for hundreds of years.


  • Many can be slow-growing and take decades to reach full height.
  • If damaged in storms can permanently lose their shape.
  • While they stay green all year, evergreens drop needles, which can be messy.

Best suited

  • Create privacy or block wind around the house.
  • Areas in need of year-round greenery.


Shade trees


  • Create shade and energy savings for your home during the summer months.
  • Provide an anchor for hammocks and swings.
  • Produce flowers and change leaf color in spring and fall.


  • Large trees mean large root systems, so be sure to consider the location when planting.
  • Drop their leaves in the fall (requiring clean-up) and are bare throughout the winter.
  • Require some pruning maintenance for long-term health.

Best suited

  • Provide shade to your home or yard in the summer months.
  • Add color to your landscape throughout the seasons.


No matter the type of tree you choose, be sure to consider the mature height and space needs of your new tree. While it may take decades for your tree to reach full height and width, allotting the space it needs will contribute to overall health and longevity. Your landscape designer will be able to recommend proper spacing as well as routine maintenance advice.