Evergreens for Yards and Gardens: Beyond Pines and Spruces, Part 1 Evergreens for Yards and Gardens: Beyond Pines and Spruces, Part 1

Mention planting evergreens as part of a home landscape project, and most people immediately think of softwood conifer trees like pine or spruce, or a similar shrub like arborvitae. Though these options certainly have their time and place in landscape architecture, there are many other evergreens to choose from that bring different leaves, shapes, flowers and sizes to yards and gardens.

Evergreens are grown for a variety of reasons and solve a multitude of landscape and garden issues. Evergreens can be of a narrow leafed or broad leafed variety, with several species falling anywhere in between. Evergreens make excellent shields for privacy or for protection from the wind. They are towering tall trees, medium and low growing shrubs, and sprawling groundcovers.

Although most of us look to evergreen plant species for the year-round color and relief from winter browns and grays, evergreen plants and shrubs are also useful in problem areas, for accent, hedges, and as sources of colorful flowers and berries. Though certainly not close to being an exhaustive list of evergreen choices, following are several popular species of evergreens for yard and garden landscapes.


Boxwoods are very popular for use in hedges, and low growing varieties are often planted as borders for walkways and gardens. Boxwoods are generally easy to grow and care for, and are quite hardy. Boxwood shrubs are compact plants covered with oval-shaped green leaves, uniform in size and color. In the Spring, boxwood blooms small, white flowers.

Because they grow so densely, boxwoods make excellent disguises for trashcans and storage areas. Likewise, the dense bushes are a good way to provide year-round privacy for yards or quiet garden spaces. Boxwood plants partner well with many garden flowers, roses and shrubs. Boxwoods are a good way to add volume to the yard or garden without growing too much of a good thing.

The same dense foliage makes Boxwood a highly popular choice for hedges and topiary. Boxwood is easily pruned and quite forgiving for the novice gardener or landscaper. Additionally, trimmings from Boxwood plants are easily used for wreath making and crafts. Different varieties of Boxwood may be better suited than others as a hedge or a topiary. Check with landscapers or nursery personnel to determine the best variety for your designated purpose.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurels have abundant evergreen foliage and blossom in the spring with clusters of many small, star-shaped flowers covering the shrub. Blossom colors vary depending on the variety of the laurel. White and light pink are perhaps the most well known colors of Mountain Laurel flowers, but Mountain Laurel's blossoming color range can be anywhere from white to a dark pink that is almost red.

Mountain Laurel thrives in well draining soil in partial shade and so does well when planted along tree lines of deciduous, high branched hardwoods that will provide the laurels with filtered light. As long as Mountain Laurels are provided with adequate shade, they will thrive and are ideal as boundary plants, privacy screens, hedges and barriers.

Mountain Laurels are a nice addition to shrub mixes and perennial gardens that receive proper amounts of shade. The abundant spring bloom of the Mountain Laurel provides garden color before most other perennials are blossoming, and the remaining year-round foliage provides balance and interest to the later blooming plants. In this way, Mountain Laurels help to extend the blossom of your garden from spring through fall.

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