Evergreen shrubs exist in sufficient variety to become a part of almost any landscape, in almost any climate. Some evergreens, such as rhododendron and azalea, offer bonuses beyond a predictable swath of green. Consider adding evergreens to your landscape plan when you need visual anchors, new shapes, textures, and colors and a sense of depth provided by the solid presence of evergreens. Evergreens define, contain and shape landscaping space as few other elements do.
Regional lists highlight varieties of evergreens. Some plants are evergreen or semi-evergreen in one climate and deciduous in another. How well particular evergreen shrubs do in your area is an important consideration in choosing.
Spatial considerations play a large role in selecting evergreen shrubs. Woody, multirooted and weather-tolerant, shrubs are plants you will live with for many years. Mature size may be substantially larger than nursery size. Shrubs not given adequate space to grow are prone to stunting, disease, and shorter lifespan. Width, or spread, is of equal importance as height. Some varieties of spruce, arborvitae, yew and juniper come in dwarf varieties, which may enable you to create the look you want on a smaller scale.
Shrubs lend a sculptural quality to landscaping that can be used to define particular areas of a yard or provide a visual anchor resembling a building element. From box to ilex to privet and cypress, evergreens form solid and handsome hedges. Hedges define but also soften; one creative use of hedging is to soften lines between a stone driveway and a stone wall. Low juniper, wintergreen, Oregon grape or another creeping evergreen shrub softens a planted bed as it serves as ground cover. Additionally, ground cover shrubs are tenacious soil holders and therefore ideal on slopes and other areas subject to runoff and erosion.
Color and Texture
The dense, feathery almost black green of mugo pine makes your patio look cool even before you sit down in the shade. The gold-tinged flame shapes of arborvitae framing the front proclaim a warm welcome to all visitors. Spring-green boxwood can formalize a modest brick walkway or the wall edging the patio. Given new breeds, even the thorny barberry needed for a safety hedge can contribute bronzy or pinkish tones to shrubbbery. Creeping cypress stays bright green in warm weather, turning purple when weather cools. Blue junipers form a background for even modest splashes of annual reds, pinks and oranges. It is difficult to imagine a color and texture combination that does not exist in evergreen shrubs.