Choosing and Caring for Evergreens in the Winter Landscape

Evergreen juniper branch in winter

Evergreens are the backbone of a winter landscape.

During the growing season, you may not notice evergreens as part of your landscape. There is so much going on with blooming spring shrubs and bushy summer perennials, the low-profile evergreens in the landscape take a back seat. When winter hits, however – the snow flies and the view from inside your house is barren – this is the time when evergreens shine!

Want to add more interest to your yard when not much else is happening? Here are a few tips on choosing and caring for evergreens that will bring interest to your winter landscape.

Choosing the Right Evergreens

There are two main categories of evergreens that you may choose from to add interest to your winter landscape: Conifers and Broadleaf Evergreens. Within those two designations there are dozens of plant choices. When choosing evergreens for your yard, always select plants that fall in USDA Hardiness zone 5 or 4.

Conifers for Structure and Texture

Conifers – such as pine, spruce, and fir – are hardy, deer-resistant stalwarts of the evergreen world. The towering elegance of a Colorado Blue Spruce may serve as a striking focal point, while the compact nature of a dwarf pine can add texture to smaller spaces. With so many varieties of Junipers, you can always find the perfect shape and size for your landscape!

evergreen needles of a Blue Spruce tree
Blue Spruce
Pine tree branch with snow
Dwarf Mugo Pine
Juniper bush covered in snow
Compact Juniper

Broadleaf Evergreens for Diversity

Broadleaf evergreens like holly, boxwood, and rhododendron provide a welcome contrast to needled counterparts. Their glossy leaves add a different texture and color palette, enhancing visual interest. Broadleaf evergreens do a nice job of filling in the gaps, as most reach a maximum height of 8 feet.

Rhodondendron leaves with frost
green Boxwood shrub
Blue Holly with berries in snow
Blue Holly

Caring for Evergreens

Since evergreens are always in a state of semi-dormancy throughout the winter, a little TLC can go a long way to ensure they thrive in our cold New Hampshire climate.

Mulching for Moisture Retention

Apply a layer of mulch around the base of evergreen plants to retain soil moisture. This is particularly important in winter when the ground can freeze, making it challenging for plants to access water. Mulching also helps regulate soil temperature, protecting roots from extreme cold.

Protection from Winter Burn

Broadleaf evergreens are susceptible to winter burn, a condition where the foliage dries out due to harsh winter winds and sun. Shield vulnerable plants from prevailing winds by installing burlap screens or using an anti-desiccant spray like wilt-pruf® that creates a protective coating on the leaves.

Pruning and Shaping

Prune evergreens during late winter or early spring after the danger of deep cold has passed. In addition to preventing further structural damage by removing broken or damaged branches, early spring pruning will promote healthy growth when springtime hits.

Christmas decor with real evergreen branches

Use clippings from your evergreens to create beautiful Christmas décor. Pine branches, spruce tips, and holly can be incorporated into wreaths, garlands, or outdoor containers, adding a touch of holiday charm to your landscape.

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