By Jodi Torpey
Evergreens are those plants with the wonderfully descriptive collective name. Planting evergreens is a clever way for gardeners to make sure there’s something green, blue, or even gold in the yard when the rest of the landscape turns brown.
There are basically two types of evergreens: narrowleaf and broadleaf. Narrowleaf evergreens, such as blue spruce, mugo pine, and white fir, sport needlelike foliage. Broadleaf evergreens, which include boxwood, Rhododendron, and mountain laurel, have flat, broad, or wide leaves.
No matter which types you plant, they need some care all year long. Winter watering is especially important in the Mountain region. This helps protect those trees and shrubs from winter burn caused by drying winds, low humidity, dry soils, and fluctuating soil temperatures.
Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is one of the most reliable and durable evergreens. Because there are many different arborvitae shapes and sizes, you can select a single specimen to use as a design exclamation point. Or group these tall evergreens to form a garden backdrop or hedge.
Low-growing junipers, such as ‘Calgary Carpet’, make tidy groundcovers. Their spreading habit works especially well to create an evergreen border along a walkway or perennial bed. If you plant juniper as a groundcover, make sure the shrubs are dense enough to keep weed seeds from sprouting and growing through the branches.
When you plant evergreens, remember the broadleaf kinds. Boxwood, such as ‘Green Velvet’, is one of the most popular broadleaf evergreens. These compact, rounded shrubs typically are used as low hedges but look equally nice when planted several feet apart in a tidy row.
When selecting boxwood plants, look for your zone’s hardiness, and plant in a location protected from intense winter sun and cold, drying winds. For the best growing site, select a slightly shaded spot with a northern or eastern exposure.
Other broadleaf evergreens for the Mountain region include manzanitas (Arctostaphylos x coloradonesis). Manzanitas, such as ‘Mock Bearberry’ and ‘Panchito’, are low-growing shrubs that mound and spread into an evergreen groundcover. These shrubs can help cover slopes and hillsides where it’s difficult for other plants to grow. Manzanitas are drought tolerant when established, so be patient. It takes a few seasons for them to get growing.
Do you have a favorite evergreen tree or shrub in your landscape? Please share it here.