Evergreen shrubs unite the trees in your yard into a harmonious landscape. Because they often have multiple trunks and leafy branches that go all the way to the ground, they fill up the background and frame the borders. They add volume and bulk to the planting.

Even the smallest evergreen shrubs can act as edging and separate your garden bed from the lawn.

The way use evergreens to create structure is to combine them with other plants in your mixed border.

Evergreen shrubs are a great for creating structure in your garden when you don’t have fences, buildings or other hardscape elements.

It’s true that evergreen shrubs take a backseat to deciduous shrubs because they flower and change color throughout the year. But even though they change only modestly through the seasons, evergreen shrubs create vital green islands in otherwise barren winter landscapes.

Shop for evergreen shrubs online.

Evergreen shrub backdrops don’t HAVE to be boring

Just because evergreen shrubs are workhorses doesn’t mean they have to boring. There are many textures and options to choose from.

Evergreen shrubs can have very small leaves, pointy pine needles or even appear soft and fluffy. Planting opposing textures next to each other accentuates the differences and makes for a more interesting landscape.

The same goes for shape and size. You can pair tall, interestingly shaped evergreens with well-behaved, mounded ones. The effect is dramatic and eye-catching.

Taking advantage of evergreen shapes also allows more plants to be packed into an area.

Repetition in Landscape Layering
Lost Horizons Nursery, Acton Ontario

Tips for using evergreen shrubs in your landscape

Here are some tips for using evergreens to create a flowing structure that will hold up throughout every season:

1. Group evergreen shrubs together

Choose one plant as the focal point and add others that compliment its color, texture and form.

2. Repeat evergreen shrubs or shrub groupings

Repeat the same grouping or plan a complimentary grouping farther down the border.

3. Break up evergreens with deciduous shrubs or plants

Between the evergreen groups, plant deciduous shrubs and perennial plants. Showcase one or two with outstanding winter interest.

4. Stagger evergreens for a casual look

For a more casual, cottage look, stagger evergreen shrubs so they don’t line up in neat rows.

Quick Tip: Interested in adding more depth and dimension to your landscape? Check out my post on Landscape Layering to learn more.

Evergreen shrub suggestions for a 4-season landscape

Euonymus “Emerald & Gold”

Euomymous "Emerald & Gold"

The trademark of the emerald & gold euonymus is its free flowing form and variegated foliage: in this case, green on the inside, golden on the outside.

Zones 5-9 | 3’ H x 4’ W  – See more euonymus varieties you can purchase today.

Boxwood “Northern Charm”

Boxwood 'Northern Charm' Evergreen Shrub

This oval/round shaped evergreen shrub has emerald green foliage. The small round leaves have a fine texture and turn dark green in fall.

Zones 4-8 | 4’ H x 4’ W – Shop for boxwoods online.

What Blooms with What?

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Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Hey, since you're already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.

Juniper ‘Blue Star’

Blue Star Juniper evergeren shrubs

This evergreen stands out because of the cool blue tones of its needles. Short in stature, blue star junipers will add subtle pops of color to your landscape year-round.

Zones 4-8 | 2’ H x 3’ W | Purchase blue junipers online right now.

Yew ‘Tauntonii’

yew tauntonii evergeren shrubs

The dark green foliage of yews look great in a wooded area amongst mature trees, in a shady corner or planted on a steep slope. There are spreading, mounded and even upright varieties to choose from. The compact variety Tauntonii (Taunton’s Yew) has a pleasing form and can tolerate shade. Zones 4-7 | 3-4′ H x 5-6′ W – Find the perfect yew shrubs here.

False Cypress ‘Golden Mop’

Golden Mop False Cypress Evergreen Shrub

Golden Mop False Cypress is a unique evergreen shrub mop-like, with stringy leaves that color best in full sun. Golden Mop will add contrast to your mixed border and is a great option in rock gardens, slope plantings and Asian garden schemes. It’s a slow-grower but this cypress is definitely worth the wait. Full Sun | Zones 4-8 | 3′ H x 4′ W 

Azalea ‘Hot Shot Girard’

Azalea Hot Shot Girard Evergreen Shrub

A great partial sun option for a mixed border, ‘Hot Shot Girard’ azalea is a hardy, ornamental evergreen shrub with brilliant flowers. This azalea catches fire in mid-spring with orange-red 3″ ruffled blooms. Part Sun | Zones 6-9 | 2-3′ H x 2-3′ W 

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Wrapping Up

Evergreen shrubs are probably the most important part of your perennial garden plan. They create an awesome backdrop for your other showcase plants, so they don’t get lost in your house colors or other distracting objects.

Evergreens stay green all year round… even in the bitter cold of winter. Some great picks for evergreen shrubs are the emerald & gold euonymus, northern charm boxwood, ‘blue star’ juniper, ‘tauntonii’ yew and ‘hot shot girard’ azalea.

While you’re choosing your evergreen shrubs, think about using the left textures, shrub sizes and even color variation to really play off of each other and make for a solid but interesting foundation row.

If you want to learn more about creating an effective landscape, be sure to check out my post about landscape layering and creating a mixed border.

With so many to choose from it’s hard to pick just one evergreen shrub for your landscape. What’s your favorite evergreen tree or shrub? Leave a comment on Facebook and let me know!

Keep Reading

In my perennial garden plan, I’ll go over landscape layering and give you some suggestions for each of the 5 layers:
Layer 1: Ornamental Trees
Layer 2: Evergreen Shrubs
Layer 3: Perennial Deciduous Shrubs
Layer 4: Perennial plants and flowers
Layer 5: Groundcovers, Vines and Grasses

More Gardening Posts You’ll Love

What Blooms with What?

Plantpairingguide teal mockup web %28custom%29

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit
Hey, since you're already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.