The Staff at Landscape on planting evergreens.
Botanically speaking, evergreens are plants that retain their leaves throughout all four seasons. Evergreens have a vast number of applications in modern landscaping, as DIY landscapers are frequently in need of color and natural windbreaks during the winter months. Dense shrubs can help protect more delicate plants from excessive drying via winter winds, as well as offering nesting materials and locations for local birds.
Prior to planting, homeowners interested in evergreens should take careful measurements of the landscape’s dimensions. Since many varieties of evergreen trees mature differently from deciduous trees, homeowners need a clear picture of the size of the landscape in order to correctly estimate necessary distances between plants. It is also important to remember that most evergreens grow more densely along the ground than their deciduous counterparts. This means that any groundcovers, shrubs, or flowers planted near evergreens will need to be able to thrive in predominantly shady areas.
Research the mature height and spread of all shrubs and trees to ensure that they have enough room to reach their full potential without requiring excessive pruning. It is also important for DIY landscapers to have a grasp of their intended aesthetic prior to planting. Many evergreens, particularly shrubs, are quite dense and can create a perception of crowdedness if overused. Homeowners with large, open spaces may benefit from this, however, as these same shrubs are frequently used as windbreaks and natural property markers. Be aware of the spreading height of shrubs as well—some varieties spread close to the ground, while others fan out at higher levels.
While it is tempting to believe the myth that evergreens do not need much care, a few simple steps will help your evergreens stay healthy all year long. First, check the USDA plant hardiness zone rating of your intended shrubs and trees. Plant hardiness zones measure the average minimum temperature of a given area, which will allow homeowners to discern whether plants will be hardy enough to make it through the winter. Even with an adequate hardiness rating, evergreens may still struggle. Winter winds can lead to excessive drying and soil erosion, which in turn can expose root crowns. DIY landscapers can prevent this by wrapping smaller shrubs in burlap or spraying with an anti-desiccant. Larger evergreen shrubs and trees should be particularly hardy in order to act as windbreaks for smaller plants. A thorough watering in late fall (but prior to the ground freezing) will also go a long way toward making certain that plants have enough water to make it through the winter.