Many people choose deciduous or evergreen based on the fact that they do or don’t loose their leaves every autumn. The fact is, all trees loose their leaves. Deciduous trees loose their leaves all at once in Autumn and Evergreen trees continuously replace their leaves throughout the year.
Deciduous Trees are the drama queens of the forest. They grow big leaves that change colour throughout the year especially in autumn just before they drop them like they’re going out of fashion and sulk for the winter.
Evergreen Trees are much more sensible. They grow modest sized leaves and keep them long term but they always need refreshing a bit like how we renew our skin cells continuously. I used to think evergreen trees as being conifers type trees, like pine trees and macrocarpa hedges. Personally I’m not a fan of conifers. Pine forests seem dead to me.
There are actually plenty of evergreen trees that are nothing like conifers. Here are some of my favourite examples:
◦ Beech trees – Nothofagus species
◦ Pohutakawa – Metrosideros species
◦ Bottle brush – Banksia species
◦ Gum trees – Eucalyptus species
So there are pros and cons to the leaf refreshing process. If you like a perfect looking lawn, you’ll either need to pick up wheelbarrows full on leaves for a few weekends in a row in autumn OR lightly rake the lawn occasionally throughout the year. Personally I like the look of small leaves scattered on a lawn like confetti. Nature isn't perfection, it's spectacular!
There are other things to consider too. Deciduous trees are bare in winter and allow more sunlight to filter through on those short and cold days when you need every last droplet of sunshine. Most fruit bearing trees and bold flowering types tend to be deciduous trees like cherry trees, apricot trees, and magnolia trees.
These are some of my favourite deciduous trees:
◦ Dogwood trees – Cornus species
◦ Magnolia trees – Magolia species
◦ Weeping willow trees – Salix × sepulcralis
◦ Maple trees – Acer species
Evergreen trees can have flowers too but they tend to be small. Despite their size, they can still put on a show like Wattle trees, Gum trees, Strawberry trees, Banksia trees, Kowhai trees, and Pohutakawas.
By the way, my favourite website for looking up different tree options is www.southernwoods.co.nz it has a fantastic filter for their database of plants so you can choose deciduous trees that grow fast to an adult height of 2-5m with flowers and attractive bark. I mean you can get really specific with your criteria. It beats flipping through pages in a hefty book only to find out the species that is perfect isn’t available in New Zealand.