There are so many different kinds of evergreens that the choice
may seem overwhelming. To make things easier, categorize them
into smaller groups. There are evergreens with needles or scales,
such as pine, spruce and cedar, and there are broadleaf evergreens,
such as boxwood and euonymus. If your aim is to contrast textures,
consider using species from both categories.
If you want to contrast shapes, categorize evergreens into
groups such as upright, horizontal and globe-shaped. An upright
evergreen performs well as a specimen plant and as a highlight
plant. For example, a dwarf pine with an open habit can create
interest in the center of a bed, while a pillar-shaped emerald
cedar can create a sense of formality and majesty when placed
on either side of an entrance.
Horizontal or sprawling evergreens are, in my opinion, among
the most interesting. These should be planted with care since
they have a way of taking up too much space. However, they
can be very attractive when draped over a retaining wall or
when used as a ground cover. As a ground cover, they can benefit
your other plants by helping to prevent soil erosion and by
shading the ground to keep roots cool, even on the hottest
A globe-shaped creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
used as a specimen plant.
Globe-shaped evergreens, such as globe spruce or globe cedar,
seem to be the most popular since they maintain a fairly tight
and tidy habit. They can be used as a backdrop or as a specimen
plant, but often people get carried away and plant too many
too close together. They should be well spaced to maintain
the tight round shape that is so eye pleasing.