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  Landscaping Design Using Evergreens
by: Ron King
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Due to their all-year appeal, vigorousness and long life, evergreens are worth their small additional cost over deciduous trees which lose their foliage during winter.

Evergreens have a wide range from broad-leaved shrubs, such as laurel and rhododendrons to cone-bearing pines and distinguished spruces.

Markedly effective as windscreens, the giant spruces and firs are commonly used not only for their attractiveness, but also for their shape. Furthermore, they do well without much sunlight, which causes them to be excellent choices for fundamental planting.

Here are some highly conventional evergreens to select from (in alphabetical order):


The decorative Arbor Vitae, such as cedar, produces the flat evergreen branch frequently used in floral arrangements during the Christmas season. It thrives best in moist, protected areas. While it can be trimmed to any size or shape, untrimmed it will form a broad 35 to 50 feet tall pyramid.


Strong, resilient, and drought-resistant, the Douglas fir grows quickly and compactly. The best fir selection for wind breaks and privacy, its high pyramid makes a good lawn element. White fir has an attractive silvery color, while balsam fir, AKA the Christmas tree, is noted for its special fragrance and lustrous foliage.


The hemlock tree/shrub, with feathery foliage, is most effective when planted in a grove with others. The Canadian hemlock can be easily sheared for symmetrical effect.


The tall species of juniper, for example the formal columnar juniper and the upright juniper, are quite useful in planting. As a spreading evergreen, the Pfitzer juniper is best used for banks, edgings and ground cover. Its green feathery foliage grows quickly, will tolerate crowding and at maturity stands 8 feet high, and up to 12 feet wide. Ground-covering junipers include creeping, prostrate, Sargent, and Waukegan.


The most generally known evergreen is the pine. Renowned for its long, soft, light silvery-green needles, the white pine can reach 80 feet when mature. In addition to the white pine, the red pine is great for backgrounds and wind breaks. A broad, compact tree, the ponderosa pine is used for protection and ornamental screens.

The Austrian pine (black pine), popular in the Midwest, has a rich, green color and spreading branches.


Short and wide, with light blue-green needles, the white spruce reaches 70 feet and is good for general landscaping and privacy screens. Although it suffers in drought and heat, the Colorado blue spruce is a hardy tree. Red cedar, on the other hand, is a fine decortive evergreen for hedges and windbreaks because it withstands dry weather, plus the thick green foliage has a bronze color in winter.

Probably the most commonly planted wind breaks evergreen, the Norway spruce is hardy. A slow grower, it has short needles of dark green and is compact and pyramidal in shape. The Black Hills variety grows to 40 feet in time, and is hardy and drought-resistant.


With its thick, glossy needles and dense, upward-reaching branches, the yew is useful as both a shrub and tree. Although it grows well in sun and shade, it’s best used as a single feature against a wall of the garden rather than as foundation planting. The low-spreading bushy dwarf yew can be clipped, while other varieties such as the upright yew and Japanese yew are tapering or conical plants best used for hedges.


Since evergreens tend to be adversely affected by dry, hot summer weather, they should be watered every 10 to 14 days during this time of year. Be sure the water reaches at least 6 inches deep.

An excellent way to protect the evergreen from loss of water in dry weather is with a mulch of grass clippings or peat moss.

To help an evergreen thrive, pruning in the late spring is recommended, making sure that the inner branches will develop.

About The Author

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Copyright 2009 Ron King. You can reprint this article if the resource box is left intact and the links live.

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