University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Overview of Evergreen Shrubs

December 27, 2001

Last week I reviewed some popular evergreen trees for landscape use. Today's topic is a look at popular evergreen shrubs for landscape use.

As is the case with evergreen trees, all evergreen shrubs are not the same. Popular species include yews, junipers, and arborvitae. Yews are adaptable shrubs with soft needles and will tolerate shade. Perhaps the biggest problem facing yews is planting them in a site that is too wet. Taxus cuspidate, or Japanese yew, tolerates shade and difficult sites. Cultivars vary in size and growth form. Another popular yew is Taxus x media 'Hicksi' or anglojapanese yew, which makes a good hedge or screen.

Junipers are also popular evergreen shrubs. One way to tell a juniper is to stick your hand into the canopy. If you feel sharp spines, it is probably a juniper. Junipers are available in a variety of growth habits ranging from tall shrubs up to 15 feet to very low creeping junipers less than a foot off the ground. Coloration can also vary with cultivars. Junipers do best in sunny locations.

The third of the "big three"evergreen shrubs is arborvitae. Foliage is described as somewhat scale-like and has a somewhat flattened growth pattern. Arborvitae typically is thought of as having a tall, pyramidal growth habit that makes good screens. There are also smaller rounded or globe forms for various uses in the landscape. Color can also vary with cultivars.

Finally, there are a variety of dwarf pines, firs, and spruces that can be considered evergreen shrubs. Perhaps the most popular is the mugo pine, which is widely used in landscapes. Dwarf Alberta spruce is another in this group that is an interesting plant.

Winter is a good time to observe evergreens of all types to help plan future plantings in your home landscape next season and beyond.

 

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