A shrub is a low-maintenance, beautiful plant with many uses. Planted in groups, they can act as a privacy screen or hide an unsightly area like the foundation of the house. Shrubs are also ideal for filling in a bare spot. Evergreen shrubs are divided into two groups. Coniferous or narrow-leaved shrubs keep their foliage all year, while broad-leaved evergreens stay green only in the Southern temperate climate.
Boxwood is available in two types: Japanese (Buxus microphylla) or English (Buxus sempervirens).
Both types of boxwood thrive in moist, rich, well-drained soil. They grow well planted in light shade to full sun. The leaves and stems of the boxwood are graceful and soft and can be sheared easily for a sculpted look. The Japanese boxwood grows to 3 feet, while the English, or common boxwood, can reach 20 feet if not cut back.
Junipers (Juniperus) have both scaly and needle-like foliage. They are sturdy shrubs that need little care. Juniper can be found in variegated forms of blue-green, silver and gold. The juniper prefers full sun and light, sandy soil. Japanese juniper, Pfitzer, Shore, Bar Harbor and Blue Rug are the most common varieties of juniper. All varieties can be easily pruned. They all love heat, but the junipers may turn red in the winter.
Yews fall into two groups: The English (T. baccata) and Japanese (T. cuspidata).
Red berries contrast with the dark green needles in midsummer to add a bit of color and interest to the garden. Varied shapes of yews are available, including ground hugging, pyramidal, globe and columnar. Plant a variety of shapes to add interest to the landscape. The yew can be planted in any type of well-drained soil and do well in the shade as well as the sun.
The arborvitae (Thuja) is from the cypress family. The beautiful soft foliage makes this shrub an attractive addition to the lawn or garden and is especially good to use as a privacy screen. The arborvitae's scale-like leaves are soft rather than prickly. If left to grow unchecked, the arborvitae can reach 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide, but it is an easy shrub to shape. Plant the arborvitae in cultivated, fertile soil in an area that has full to partial sun. Once planted, the shrub needs minimal maintenance. It grows best in the colder climates of northeastern U.S. and Canada.