One of the most versatile evergreens in the landscape, arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis, can be sheared into a hedge or allowed to form a handsome, pyramidal tree. Variety 'Emerald' is a popular choice that's prized for its bright green foliage that looks good throughout the year. It can grow 15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Young plants also thrive in containers. Hardy from Zones 4-8.
The national tree of Japan, Japanese cedar, Cryptomeria japonica, can grow 50 feet tall, but shorter varieties, such as 'Black Dragon', are available that will form a dense 10- to 12-foot-tall screen. Japanese cedar develops a tiered horizontal branching habit that gives the plants a loose, pyramidal shape. The needles darken to a black-green color as they mature. Hardy from Zones 5-9.
Heat- and drought-resistant, Arizona cypress, Cupressus arizonica, is a Southwestern native that can be pruned into a hedge or allowed to mature into a pyramidal tree that can grow more than 20 feet tall. It develops gray-green needles and is an ideal choice for low-water landscapes. Hardy from Zones 7-9.
The graceful form of Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens, makes an elegant impression in any landscape. It has dense, blue-green foliage that holds its shape without pruning. It's also tolerant of ocean breezes, making it a top pick for seaside gardens. Italian cypress can grow 25 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Hardy from Zones 7-10.
In milder climates, Leyland cypress, is a relatively fast-growing alternative to arborvitae. This handsome pyramidal evergreen has the potential to grow 60 feet tall, but is easily pruned to any height. Leyland cypress, Cuprocyparis leylandii, has flattened gray-green foliage on slender stems that dance gracefully whenever the wind blows. Hardy from Zones 6-10.
A low-maintenance option for your landscape, 'Blue Arrow' juniper tolerates winter cold and summer heat and has almost no insect or disease problems. The plants grow a bit slower than other evergreens, but will eventually reach 12 feet in height and 4 feet wide. 'Blue Arrow' juniper has powdery blue foliage and rich blue berries. Hardy from Zones 4-9.
1. Evergreens require full sun. Plant where they can receive at least six to eight hours of direct sun a day.
2. In cold climates, water evergreens thoroughly before the soil freezes. Because evergreens never go completely dormant, their roots will continue to draw water to counter drying winter winds.
3. Feed evergreens in the early spring with a slow-release granular fertilizer designed just for them.
4. Mulch plants to maintain consistent soil moisture during dry spells.
5. If pruning is necessary, do it in the late spring/early summer while the plants put out new growth. A little pruning every year is better than severely trimming an overgrown specimen.