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There are hundreds of varieties of evergreens. While many grow into massive specimens, dwarf selections -- such as this bird's nest spruce (Picea abies 'Nidiformis') -- are perfect for planting in beds and borders. Try them between brightly colored plants to give your eyes a visual break.
Because they keep their foliage all winter, low-growing evergreens are perfect for planting around your foundation to hide it all year.
Test Garden Tip: Make a bold statement by selecting varieties that offer different shapes and colors, but stay compact so they don't outgrow their space. 'Blue Shag' white pine, 'Montgomery' blue spruce, and 'Silver Whispers' Swiss stone pine are smaller selections that combine beautifully with 'Profusion White' zinnia, for example.
One of the most common ways to use evergreens is as a screen in the landscape. Tall, columnar varieties of arborvitae, yew, and juniper are great for small spaces. If you have room, be sure to include broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendrons, as well.
Some evergreens (such as junipers and yews) have a tight growth habit that makes them perfect for shearing into fun shapes. Try growing two a few feet apart and wire them together to create a unique arbor.
Give your beds and borders a beautiful background with evergreens. Choose tall varieties that have dark green foliage to accentuate bright colors. Or select cultivars with colorful foliage (such as the blue spruce shown here) to add interest to your plantings.
Test Garden Tip: Pay attention to plant shapes. Tall, upright evergreens (such as narrow 'Iseli Fastigiate' blue spruce and 'Medora' juniper) create wonderful contrasts with mounded perennials and grasses, for example.
Plant four modest-size upright evergreens -- such as dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') -- in a square to create a garden room. Even if you don't enclose the area with shrubs or other plants as walls, it will feel more intimate and inviting.
Enjoy a beautiful carpet by letting spreading evergreens become a groundcover. A creeping blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Procumbens', shown here), junipers, or spreading pine is perfect for filling a space with year-round color and interest.
Boxwood, yew, and juniper take well to tight pruning. Take advantage of this and clip them into fun shapes to add a bit of whimsy to your yard. A low boxwood hedge becomes fun with a mounded corner. Or try spirals (as this variegated boxwood has been pruned) and other shapes.
Plant artistically sheared evergreens (such as the junipers shown here) on both sides of your gate or along a path to give an entry a bolder, more formal feeling. They'll take yearly pruning to keep their swirly shape, but the effect is worth the effort.
One sure way to highlight the fall colors in your yard is to pair them with evergreens. Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), Korean fire (Abies koreana 'Horstmann Silberlocke'), and dwarf blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Corbet'), for example, looks smashing against bold reds and oranges. And bright yellows practically sing next to a dark green background.
Make garden design easy by choosing a theme and repeating it. For example, this garden makes use of circles -- a rounded boxwood echoes stone spheres along a path and the shape of an arbor farther along. You can do the same thing with just about any shape or color.
Big, bold evergreens can be perfect container garden plants if you have a large container. This Austrian pine, for example, adds a dash of color (and privacy) to a rooftop garden -- but you can get the same effect on a deck, patio, balcony, or even along a wide driveway.
Embrace flowering evergreens to add landscape drama. Rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and pieris add color in Northern areas; abelias, camellias, and loropetalum are perfect for warm-winter areas.
Keep cold winter winds from pulling all the heat from your home with a windbreak. Plant evergreen trees on the north or east side of your home and watch your savings grow.
Choose a particularly stunning evergreen (such as golden 'Chief Joseph' pine, contorted 'Emerald Twister' Douglas fir, or white-variegated 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' Korean fir) and treat it as a specimen plant in your landscape. Selections such as these are so eye-catching they don't need neighbors.
Your front yard will shine all year long if you fill it with a collection of evergreens. Choose varieties with different forms, colors, and textures and you'll put on a show without a single bloom.
Save yourself hours of effort every week by planting a collection of evergreens (such as this mass of 'Blue Rug' juniper) on a hard-to-mow slope. They'll keep it looking good all year long, stop erosion, and smother most weeds so you can just sit back and enjoy the view.