By Julie Martens Forney
Adding new planting beds? Be sure to include a few evergreens. These plants offer amazing variety — in plant size, leaf color, and leaf texture. Evergreens in the Mid-Atlantic earn their keep by staging a steady show no matter the season. In winter you can count on evergreens to add color when other plants snooze.
Mix textures and colors. Start landscaping with evergreens by focusing on leaf textures and colors. Mix and match evergreens by pairing contrasting leaf forms. Rhododendron, a broad-leaf evergreen, paints a living masterpiece when paired with the fine-textured leaves of ‘Golden Mop’ false cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’).
Variegated evergreens, such as ‘Honey Maid’ holly (Ilex x meserveae ‘Honey Maid’), blend beautifully with solid-green partners such as Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa). To uncover other variegated evergreens, survey local landscapes, visit public gardens, and check out plants at Lowe’s garden centers.
Site by shape. It’s not tough to place evergreens in planting beds. Approach landscaping with evergreens as you would perennials or annual plantings. Keep low evergreens toward the edges of beds, and taller ones toward the back. Let plant shape guide placement. A tall, upright false cypress fits neatly into a narrow driveway bed.
Dwarf evergreens make great choices for lining an entry walk. This bed features ‘Blue Globe’ spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’) as a colorful end point to a row of evergreen boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens).
Repetition and spacing. Another landscape design tip for evergreens is to repeat similar species throughout a border to create rhythm and continuity. Also, space plants so they have enough elbowroom to mature. Do a little research to make sure your evergreen doesn’t outgrow its spot. That can be as easy as studying a plant tag before purchasing. Fortunately, you can choose from plenty of smaller cultivars if space is at a premium.
Following these easy design tips takes the guesswork out of landscaping with evergreens. Not only do you create a beautiful landscape, you also have one that’s low maintenance.