While most plants go dormant in the winter, evergreens stay strong and survive the winters with unique features not common on other plants. Using a sprinkling of evergreens in a landscape will provide some good color coverage and diversity in an otherwise bleak season. This article will discuss a few different shrubs that can take piles of snow, and provide a deep green color even as the rest of the landscape turns brown.
One of the most common and useful evergreens is the boxwood. This tidy shrub will come in handy when trying to find uniformity and consistency for a landscape design. Some boxwood varieties grow more upward and others more outward, but both tend to stay around 3’x3’. I tend to use these along walkways and for use in shady corners that just need some structure. Boxwoods can tolerate a wide range of conditions, from mostly full sun to deep shade, from wet to dry, and anything in between. Boxwoods have small oval evergreen leaves instead of needles like other evergreens and are easily hedged to shape up and control new growth, this makes them good candidates for low maintenance landscapes. Boxwoods with their diverse tolerances and ease of use make them great companions for other shrubs that may flower prolifically or have great fall color as they will pick up the slack when winter takes over.
An evergreen that also has some softness to their evergreen leaves is the yew. Yews come in multiple shapes as well, with some like the Hicks Yew growing narrowly up to 10 feet tall while others like the Everlow Yew will stay below 2 feet tall but grow outwards 4-5 feet. The yews will all have semi-soft bristle-like needles and a branching habit easily controlled by hedging. They take snow load well flexing their branches and supporting a lot of weight just to bounce back once it melts away. These shrubs tend to like more shade than sun and medium moisture. They are used most as understory shrubs under trees that will provide some afternoon shade and will show their best assets in the winter once everything goes dormant. Yews are a unique choice and have many different varieties for niches in and landscape.
There are many more evergreen shrubs to choose from but the two I mentioned are common to find and versatile for most landscape beds. Don’t forget to pick out a few evergreens next time to carry your landscape beds into the cold winter months!