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October 28, 2017 2:58 am

Sprucing Up the Landscape

Saturday, August 15, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

We have decided to do a major overhaul on our landscape around the house and yard. The idea was to choose a landscape that was low maintenance so that we could spend more time relaxing in it rather than working in it. 

Some of the trees that are going into the landscape are spruce trees. Spruce are a beautiful looking conifer that require very little care and maintenance once they have become established. They grow best in full sun to partial shade in a well drained, moist soil but will tolerate clay. They do not need to be pruned and are deer resistant.

There are lots of different types of spruce from the dwarf, slow-growing varieties that are ideal for small yards to the large Norway or Colorado spruce that can reach heights of 25 meters.

Colorado spruce (picae pungens) is a North American native and there are several different varieties that grow well in our Prince George climate. ‘Avatar’ Colorado Spruce has several qualities including the attractive blue, lush foliage and the new spring needles that look like “soft blue powder puffs”, adding beautiful colour to the landscape. The branches are distinctively tiered which adds to the attractiveness of the tree. It has a pyramid shape and will grow 5-6 meters tall and 3-4 meters wide when it reaches its mature size.

‘Fat Albert Blue Spruce’ is a very densely branched, slow-growing, tree. Intense blue coloured needles on tiered horizontal branches make this a good choice as a specimen tree. It is hardy and more drought tolerant than other spruce varieties and adapts to a number of different soil types.

‘Baby Blue’ Colorado Spruce has a full, compact growth habit with a pyramidal shape. The intense blue needles intensifies with age making it an atttractive choice for the low maintenance landscape.

Norway Spruce (Picea abies) come in several hardy varieties.

The Weeping Norway  Spruce has a distinctive natural, weeping shape with graceful, long, weeping branches that can be used as a ground cover to go over rock gardens or walls. We have planted one in a raised brick bed, with the branches sweeping down the bricks. It is low growing, but can be trained to grow upright. The aromatic needles are bright green making it a very attractive tree for the landscape.

For additional spring colour the ‘Red Cone Norway Spruce’ (Picae abies’ Acrocona’) will add beautiful red colour to the landscape with its red/purple spring cones found on the branch tips, that later mature to brown. It has a broad, spreading pyramid shape with slightly pendulous branches.

Black Hills spruce (picea glauca ‘Densata’) is a form of white spruce with blue-green needles that are tightly grouped on branchlets giving the tree a dense, teardrop shape. This hardy zone 2, slower growing tree is ideal for using as a screen, windbreak, or as a specimen in the landscape.

Using conifers such as the different varieties and forms of spruce in the landscape adds year round interest. You don’t have to give up beauty for low maintenance!


Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:

  • Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
  • Highway 97 north at Northwood Pulpmill Road




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