This dwarf evergreen garden bed looks great year-round. And, once established, it takes less maintenance and watering than a typical flowerbed. Call it beauty without the bother.
Starting with a bare landscape, we flanked the steps with dwarf blue spruce topiaries in matching allen + roth fiberglass containers (#606050). After planting an assortment of evergreens — each with subtle differences in habit, color, and texture — we filled the gaps with carefree companions. Potted dwarf conifers soften the edges of the porch.
- Emerald Green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’), Zones 4–8
- Japanese barberry (Berberis ‘Orange Rocket’ and ‘Helmond Pillar’), Zones 4–9
- Sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’), Zones 3–10
- Blue Rug juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’), Zones 3–9
- Fernspray false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Filicoides’), Zones 4–8
- Bird’s nest spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’), Zones 2–8
- Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), annual
- Dwarf blue spruce (Picea pungens f. glauca), Zones 2–8
- Boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Mountain’), Zones 5–9
- Mum (Chrysanthemum spp.), Zones 5–7 or annual
- Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Daub’s Frosted’), Zones 4–9
- Globe arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis Fire Chief), Zones 4–8
- Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’),* Zones 2–8
* In containers with licorice plant and coleus
Mums add vibrant color in late summer or fall. They can be clipped back in early summer to keep them compact and less prone to splaying in rain. Mums are often winter hardy in Zones 5–7 if they’re given time to spread their roots over summer. Leave them in place for winter interest, cutting back to the base in early spring to allow for new growth.
Dwarf Blue Spruce
Potted dwarf blue spruce topiaries highlight the entryway. Their thick-needled blue foliage — gorgeous year round — complements the lime-color sweet potato vines sharing space in the containers.
Good to Know: In cold climates, either plant the spruce in the ground before winter or insulate the pots with a thick mulch of leaves held in place with burlap. Keep the root ball watered until the ground freezes. Remove the mulch in early spring.
Fire Chief Globe Arborvitae
Globe arborvitae grows slowly so it requires no pruning. In addition to its intriguing shape and texture, Fire Chief sports bright golden spring foliage turning orange-red in fall.
‘Daub’s Frosted’ Juniper
Junipers are tough, drought-resistant plants and ‘Daub’s Frosted’ is no exception. What is exceptional, however, is the golden yellow foliage with frosted tips, which add color and interest beyond the growing season.
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum
Like its evergreen companions, ‘Autumn Joy’ is drought resistant and low maintenance. While the blue-green succulent foliage is appealing all summer, it’s the flowers that really capture attention. They open light pink, eventually maturing to copper-red in fall.
Bird’s Nest Spruce
With a tough disposition and a tight, compact shape, bird’s nest spruce makes an outstanding border plant. Bright green spring foliage gives way to medium green in summer. Its nest shape looks especially pretty layered with snow.
Two barberry varieties share space with the evergreens. With its changing leaf colors, Orange Rocket is a welcome addition. Foliage opens coral-orange in spring, ages to mid-green in summer, and turns ruby red in fall. Helmond Pillar adds handsome burgundy tones in spring and summer, turning red in fall. Both have upright habits to balance the rounded and spreading shapes of companions.
Fernspray False Cypress
This graceful, pyramidal specimen features fern-like green foliage. It grows slowly to 8–10 feet tall, but it can easily be pruned to remain smaller if desired.
With dwarf evergreens and other low-care companions, your garden will look attractive year round.