One difference between a Japanese maple tree and an evergreen is that the maple is a deciduous tree and loses its leaves in winter while the evergreen is coniferous. The Japanese maple has feathery red-purple leaves that turn bright red in the fall before dropping off the tree. Evergreens retain their leaves and color all year, according to Colorado State University Extension.
The evergreen is an excellent choice for hedges, barriers or windbreaks, according to Colorado State University Extension. Evergreens are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and provide color and texture in all seasons. There are many types of evergreen trees, including fir, pine, spruce, juniper and larch, and each has its preferences for soil type and the amount of moisture it needs.
The Japanese maple is an ornamental tree that is cherished for its graceful, weeping silhouette, according to Wayside Gardens. Many varieties of Japanese maple are small enough to be grown in a container and moved around the garden as a visual accent. These maples grow well in dappled sunlight and are suitable as an understory plant. The leaves of the Japanese maple are fragile and must be protected from strong winds. The tree leafs early and is vulnerable to frost damage in the spring.