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5 Conifer Types of Trees to Plant in Your Oregon Yard

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To put it simply, conifer trees are trees that bear cones. That is, they reproduce via seeds in a cone rather than with a flower. A lot of evergreen trees are considered conifer trees, but not all are. Additionally, not all conifer trees are evergreen trees either. If you’re looking for conifer types of trees in Oregon to plant in your yard, here are five varieties that will work well.

1. Douglas Fir

The Douglas fir, known scientifically as Pseudotsuga menziesii, has been the official state tree of Oregon since 1936. It’s not only a common choice to plant in your yard, but it’s also widely found throughout the state, especially in western Oregon. You may also know it as a favorite option for Christmas trees. The name for this tree comes from Scottish botanist David Douglas, who worked to identify plants in Oregon back in the 19th century.

The needles found on these trees are blue-green in color, soft and flat, and about one inch long. They have three-point bracts, which help make these trees recognizable. The bark of the trees is deeply furrowed on more mature trees. The cones that grow on Douglas firs are three to four inches long and blunt.

To fully thrive, Douglas fir trees should be planted in areas of full sun. Additionally, they need a lot of space to grow, as they can reach heights of 100 to 325 feet, and their trunks can reach a diameter of 15 feet. If your yard doesn’t have as much space, there are smaller varieties to choose from.

2. Ponderosa Pine

Eastern Oregon is where the ponderosa pine, scientifically known as Pinus ponderosa, is commonly found, as the region tends to be drier. Over time, these trees have adapted well to their environment, meaning that they can survive areas that frequently have low-intensity ground fires. What sets the ponderosa pine apart from other pine trees is its distinct bark.

If you’re looking for a tree that will attract small animals, such as birds and squirrels, to your yard, this is a good option for you to plant, as they serve as a valuable food source for these types of animals. Also, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a decorative tree to add to your yard since they have long needles, about 5 to 10 inches in length. The needles are yellow-green and have three per bundle. It’s important to note that the needles can vary depending on the subspecies of ponderosa pine—there are five subspecies.

The cones are rounded with a sharp tip and about three to six inches long. The bark is orange-brown and has deep furrows and ridges. Some species of this tree can live for up to about 200 years.

Ponderosa pine trees should be planted in an area that receives six hours of direct sunlight each day. Once they’re established, they are very drought-tolerant, but they cannot survive in extremely wet areas. They grow anywhere from 60 to 100 feet tall, reaching a width of 25 to 30 feet. They only grow 13 to 24 inches a year.

3. Grand Fir

Grand firs, or Abies grandis, are known for their narrow shape, as their branching is horizontal or more upright. These trees take up more space than the Douglas fir, as they can grow to heights of 150 to 200 feet and widths of up to 40 feet. Their needles are blunt but flat.
Compared to other true firs, the grand fir prefers drier climates. They can grow well in different soils, but they thrive the best in soil that’s rich. These trees are also easy when it comes to planting location, as they grow quite well in areas of full sun, full shade, and part sun.

4. Western Hemlock

The western hemlock, scientifically called Tsuga mertensiana, is the state tree of Washington, but it’s a common type of tree in Oregon too. Some western hemlock found here have lived for 1,200 years. They can grow from about 160 to 230 feet tall and reach a width of 4 to 9 feet. They have shorter needles, reaching about half an inch to one inch long. These needles are blue-green in color. The cones on western hemlock trees are about one to three inches long and tend to be thin with rounded scales. The tips of the tree’s branches hang down, giving it a droopy look. They have thin bark with red coloring on the interior.

Coastal areas, lowlands, and mountain areas are where these trees grow best, as they thrive on moist sites. They can grow well in areas that are full sun to full shade, giving you some flexibility. The soil should be well-draining and moist.

5. Western Red Cedar

Scientifically called the Thuja plicata, the western red cedar is used both as a decorative tree and a timber evergreen. These trees grow in the shape of a pyramid, reaching heights of 80 to 90 feet tall and a width of 30 feet. The bark is reddish-grey in color and is thin and stringy. The needles grow in tight, alternating pairs and are flat and tiny. The cones produced are also tiny, at less than an inch long.

The wood of these trees is much more rot resistant as compared to others, making them easier to care for. They also should be planted in a spot that has a good mix of shade and sun and can grow well in the shade of other trees. The soil should be moist.

The above five trees are popular conifer types of trees in Oregon. If you’re not sure which one will work best in your yard, give us a call at Vernon Imel today, and we are happy to help.