Soil Recipe: Sheena’s Best Conifer Mulch

Keep evergreens vibrant by providing a layer of slow-release food and mulch.


Help keep your coniferous shrubs vibrant through the winter by providing a protective layer of slow-release food and mulch.

Winter brings evergreen shrubs and trees front and centre. They provide structure and bring the garden to life by providing habitat and food for birds.

Coniferous evergreens, such as pine or juniper, anchor a landscape with traditional green; blue-toned shrubs such as blue spruce provide softening; and yellow/gold conifers such as golden cypress add liveliness and drama to the scene. The colours of evergreen foliage play out beautifully against the low light levels of the season and are enhanced when they glisten with winter rains and frost.

Help keep your coniferous shrubs vibrant by providing a protective layer of slow-release food and mulch. An early-spring application will protect evergreens from hot summer sun, lessen the need for watering, reduce soil compaction and provide nutrients.

Evergreens thrive in acidic soil, as the acidity increases the amount of nutrients the plant will absorb. This mulch, with a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and added trace elements, will provide all the nutrients needed for glowing colour, production of cones and healthy root development. Apply the mulch in spring, just after the last frost, and, if needed to add nutrients or reduce weeds and watering, a second application in July.


If you have access to a chipper, shred your holiday evergreen boughs, wreaths and centrepieces and use them as added mulch for your evergreens.

1 bag (32 L) fish compost
1 cup (250 mL) glacial rock dust
1 32-L bag steer manure
1 cup (250 mL) kelp meal
4 shovelfuls well-rotted leaf mould, maple preferred (if available)

Mix all together and apply a 5-cm (2-in.) layer to the drip zone.