When shopping for plants, one can easily become seduced by beautiful flowers only to forget the importance of foliage. While flowers do have a big impact seasonally in the garden, it’s important not to forget how evergreen shrubs play an essential role as well. No matter the style, type, or size of your landscape, it’s important to have evergreen shrubs to carry you from season to season.
In most urban-sized yards, you’ll find that compact evergreens will look more appropriate to scale, give you more design flexibility, and will create less maintenance than larger evergreens. Here are a few ideas for compact evergreen shrubs for your landscape:
Grow to scale: Many newer homes are being built with low windows; using standard sized shrubs can end up obstructing the view and taking away from the architecture. Compact evergreens are a better choice for homes with low windows.
Formal landscapes: Create a low-growing evergreen hedge or even a knot garden. Compact evergreens make it much easier to create small hedges or create evergreen interest in a formal garden. Compact evergreens won’t have to be pruned as often and won’t end up over-growing the space.
Natural landscapes: Mix compact evergreen shrubs into existing or new perennial borders. Having compact evergreen shrubs will give you substance once your blooming perennials have gone to rest for the season. Planting with shorter shrubs will also give you opportunity to plant taller blooming plants giving your design more depth and color.
Accent planting: While evergreen shrubs look beautiful in mass plantings, you can achieve a more versatile look by using compact evergreens. In smaller spaces using them solely as accents gives you more room for blooming perennials and cuts down on pruning maintenance. They can be used as container topiaries or you can let them grow in their natural form.
One such compact evergreen that offers up a lot of versatility is Dwarf Olive,Olea europea. This compact, drought tolerant shrub thrives in full sun and can handle salinity. Its dense growth habit makes it perfect for shaping while its natural texture is beautiful in less formal settings. Dwarf Olive can also be trained into a small topiary tree which would also look great in a container and would last season to season.
Pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris
Eve’s Needle Cactus, Austrocylindropuntia subulata
Dwarf Olive, Olea europaea
Nassella tenuissima, (Stipa tenuissima) Mexican Feather Grass
Nerium Oleander Red