3 Ways Evergreens Improve Your Landscape

Add privacy and punch up your palette with plants that hold color year-round. 

A Column of Evergreens

A Column of Evergreens

Photo by: Image courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Image courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Evergreens stand up to winter weather and add a backdrop of silver-blue, blue-green and yellow-green hues to the landscape. They provide ground cover and act as a natural privacy screen. And fall is an ideal time to plant tree seedlings and saplings—they've already gone dormant and don't need as much water or sunlight as in warmer months. Here's a look at what these hardy shrubs, potted plants and plants can do for your lawn.

1. Shrubs

Low-growing shrubs such as arborvitae, boxwood, holly, juniper and wintercreeper create excellent structure for borders, add privacy around decks and patios, and make good ground covers. Certain arborvitae and boxwood can be shaped to a round or mounded form, while holly stays upright and juniper and winter creeper spread and trail. They come in varieties suitable for almost any gardening zone and require at least one foot of good, soft topsoil. 

2. Potted Plants

Evergreens make great decorative plants that don't have to be brought indoors during chilly temps. Many in the shrub, ground cover and small tree categories can be placed in containers: Bergenia, 'Blue Star' juniper, Hicks yew, golden creeping Jenny and 'Golden Sword' yucca are reliable choices. Select a weatherproof pot that protects against frost and use quality soil or potting mix. They'll grow slowly during the winter, but won't be dormant. Continue with a regular watering schedule unless plants aren't able to absorb it. 

3. Trees

Tall, columnar specimens like Italian cypress, Thuja 'Green Giant', 'Emerald' arborvitae and 'North Pole' arborvitae can be ornamental when planted singularly or act as a privacy wall when planted in a row. The shorter and denser 'Nellie R. Stevens' holly is another popular choice for creating privacy. Positioning large evergreens such as Douglas fir, Leyland cypress and various pine trees on the eastern or northern side of your house can even create a windbreak and help reduce heating costs during the winter.

If planting in fall, opt for saplings when possible; seedlings are more likely to suffer from freeze drying, also called desiccation, where plants dry out as a result of low humidity and harsh wind. To prevent freeze drying, keep the ground moist until frost sets in, and cover the base of the tree with mulch or wood chips to retain dampness.