Evergreen are those trees and shrubs which keep their foliage year round. They’re a bit more expensive than deciduous plants but they are worth their cost because of their year-round beauty, hardiness and longevity. Evergreens range from the broadleaved shrubs like rhododendron and laurel to the tall-needled cone-bearing pines and stately spruces. Evergreen are ideal plants for hedges, screens, wind blocks, noise barriers and are great for add interest to landscape during the winter months.
The following is a list of evergreen trees and shrubs for the garden.
White Pine (Pinus strobus) is one the most commonly known of the evergreens and is native to the eastern US. White pines are noted for their long, soft, light silvery-green needles and rapid growth. White Pines, as well as Red Pines, are great for backgrounds and windbreaks.
Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra), found throughout the Midwest is noted for its rich, green color and spreading branches. Globe Mugo Pine is a small, rounded shrub for ornamental and accent plantings.
Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a great hardy, specimen tree but it suffers in heat and drought.
Norway Spruce (Picea abies) one of the most popular evergreens for windbreak. A fast grower, the Norway Spruce is hardy and is identified by its short, dark green needles and compact and pyramidal shape.
White Spruce (Picea glauca) grows to about 70 feet and has short, thick, light blue-green needles. Ideal for screens and windbreaks, the white spruce is also a great specimen shrub.
Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a fine ornamental evergreen in the garden. Used as a hedges or windbreaks, the Red Cedar can tolerate dry conditions. Its thick green foliage turns tones of bronze in winter.
Arborvitae (Arbovitae sp.) is an ornamental shrub which is ideal for screening as its thick growth is uniform from to bottom. Its shapes range from tall and narrow to short and round and the arborvitae can be pruned to any shape.
Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.) are a great plant in the formal garden or as a naturalizing shrub. As a broadleaf evergreen the foliage in not a needle but rather it is oblong and flat. Rhododendrons have outstanding flowers in the spring ranging in color from red to white to various shade of purple. Used in the foundation planting or off in the distance in the shrub border they’re quite effective. Also, since some varieties are native to different parts of the US they work well in natural settings such as the woodland garden.
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is similar to rhododendrons in its uses. It’s perfect for the woodland garden. Its flowers are generally smaller than those of the rhododendron but still striking.
Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a large evergreen tree with feathery foliage. It works best in a natural setting such as the woodland garden.
Yew (Taxus sp.) is useful as both a shrub and a tree and grows well in sun and shade. Although the yew is over used as a foundation planting in most new developments, planted on its own as a specimen shrub or as a screen the yew definitely has its place a the garden. There are quite a few different varieties including the upright, low and spreading, and the pyramidal shapes.
Juniper (Juniperus sp.) is similar to the yew in that it is often misused or over used in the garden. Junipers are a hardy, useful shrub with a variety of shapes and colors. Also like the yew, there are both upright and spreading varieties. Taller varieties are useful in the foundation planting or as a specimen while the lower growing, spreading types are great for slopes and hedges. Its lowest growing varieties are wonderful groundcovers.
Evergreens tend to be adversely affected by hot, dry summer weather and should be watered every 10 to 14 days at this time. Be sure the water reaches the deep-root growth. A covering of bark mulch around the base of the tree or shrub will protect the plant from water loss during dry weather.
Evergreens are susceptible to winter burn (especially newly planted specimens) during cold, dry winters. As a result they will dry up and often die or otherwise lose a few limbs. A precaution is to water them deeply before the ground freezes in the late fall. Evergreens often suffer from snow damage as well since snow is able to build up on their branches. Staking then in fall will help avoid splitting trunks, particularly in the upright shrubs.