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.
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.
Evergreen shrubs are a great for creating structure in your garden when you don’t have fences, buildings or other hardscape elements.
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 their shapes also allows more plants to be packed into an area.
Tips for using evergreen shrubs
Here are some tips for using evergreens to create a flowing structure that will hold up throughout every season:
- Group evergreen shrubs together. Choose one plant as the focal point and add others that compliment its color, texture and form.
- Repeat the same grouping or plan a complimentary grouping farther down the border.
- Between the evergreen groups, plant deciduous shrubs and perennial plants. Showcase one or two with outstanding winter interest.
- For a more casual, cottage look, stagger evergreen shrubs so they don’t line up in neat rows.
Evergreen shrubs for a 4-season landscape
Euonymus “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
Boxwood “Northern Charm”
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
What Blooms with What?
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!
Blue Star Juniper
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
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 Taunton’s Yew has a pleasing form and can tolerate shade. Zones 4-7 | 3-4′ H x 5-6′ W
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. Plus, they 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 and yews. While these are mainly green in color, they have tones of blues and yellows throughout the year. 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.
What’s your favorite evergreen shrub? There are so many to choose from it’s hard to pick just one.
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