Evergreen Plants & Trees


Evergreen plants and trees have been used for thousands of years to define and decorate gardens. Because they do not lose their foliage, evergreen plants and trees are very useful for providing privacy. They can be used as a screen for sections of the yard or garden, or as foundation plantings to shield windows. Besides offering privacy, evergreens can also be used to block an unattractive view. Many evergreens tend to have a defined natural form. Others must be trimmed into a shape. Evergreens give landscaped beds and borders a sense of continuity during periods when other plants are dormant.


Evergreen plants and trees grow in all temperate areas of the world. From the highest elevations to tropical habitats, evergreen plants retain their leaves, losing them only when new ones grow. Different species of evergreens have adapted to grow in almost every climate.


When choosing an evergreen, consider the purpose you want it to serve. Some retain a natural form, such as a tall cone or columnar shape, with little pruning or care. Others need frequent trimming to maintain their shape; many of these can be trimmed to complement other aspects of your home and garden. Some evergreens have broad leaves, and some have needles. Broadleaf evergreens do require some raking and maintenance after spring leaf drop. Needles are often left as mulch around the trees.


Rhododendron and magnolias are examples of broadleaf evergreens. They hold their leaves all winter, and then drop them as new leaf and flower buds develop the following spring. American Holly trees have a similar habit. Needled evergreens grow in all sizes and shapes. Some are tall and erect, others are low and shrubby, and still others are creeping ground covers. Needles are typically retained all year, until the spring growth of new needles pushes old ones out of the way. Pruning and trimming also encourages new growth. Evergreens may be found in a variety of colors, from light yellow-green to deep pine green. Several types are even "blue" hued, such as blue rug juniper, a low growing ground cover.

Landscaping Uses

Evergreen plants and evergreen trees are popular elements of landscape design. They contribute green all year long, and provide visual excitement even during bleak winter months in cold climates. An evergreen hedge makes an excellent backdrop for a flower garden. Intersperse evergreens with deciduous perennials and annuals to add seasonal interest and texture to your entire landscaping scheme. Vegetation provides noise reduction around your home. This protection is lost when other plants are bare in the winter. Evergreens help maintain some noise protection. Plant a mixture of low-growing, mid-height, and tall evergreens to buffer noise. Evergreens also make excellent topiary plants. A well-trimmed topiary has visual appeal any time of year.


Evergreens offer other benefits, too. A row of evergreens planted as a windbreak will slow a prevailing wind. A windbreak can make a substantial difference in the wind speed when it strikes the house, which can help reduce drafts and lower heating costs. Evergreens are a natural shelter for birds in the winter. Many types also have berries that attract hungry birds

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About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.