Evergreens serve a special purpose, both in the landscape and in the environment. They’re so good at their many jobs—like cleaning the air, providing shelter for animals, and looking beautiful—that sometimes we forget about them as a landscaping element. Deciduous trees are often the first thing we think of when we’re making landscaping decisions. A large deciduous tree on the south side of our houses shades us from the hot summer sun in Bettendorf, and lets in as much of the winter sun as possible. However, a yard full of deciduous trees and shrubs leaves our landscapes very exposed, windy, and cold during our long Iowa winters. Since evergreens don’t lose their foliage during the winter, they create a windbreak effect for the home. This effect can slow heat loss up to 15% and save you money on heating costs. Planting a blend of both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs makes for a healthy, sheltered, and beautiful yard.
Types of Evergreen
When we think evergreen, we often default to the classic Christmas tree varieties, with tiny needles and a tall triangular shape. However, there are so many more varieties to choose from. Conifers are the most common, and that covers everything that has needles and cones for seeds. There are also broadleaf types, with some varieties of Viburnum, Laurel, and Boxwood that are cold-hardy down to zone 3.
Our Favorite Landscaping Evergreens
There are so many gorgeous varieties of juniper, from 6″ tall groundcovers to trees over 30′ tall. Junipers are a popular landscaping option because they’re rugged, fast-growing, and drought tolerant. Many of the types of juniper used in landscaping offer a striking color difference from other evergreens. Juniper’s often have a very silvery-blue color that contrasts beautifully with the other greens in your yard.
Arborvitaes are excellent choices for privacy hedge or windbreaks. There are several different varieties available. Arborvitaes are fast-growing, with dense sprays of lacy needles ranging in color from emerald green to gold. If you love the scent of cedar, these are a lovely aromatic addition to your yard. Arborvitaes do need full sun exposure.
Pines also come in a variety of sizes and shapes. One of our favorites is Weeping White Pine. It can be grown as a groundcover, but it looks even more beautiful growing overtop of a sturdy arbor. Its long blue-green needles resemble a beautiful waterfall as it climbs. It will grow as tall as its supports will allow, and once it reaches its peak, it descends towards the ground.
Norway, Black Hills, and Colorado Spruce are well suited to Iowa’s climate. Norway Spruce is a popular choice with many different varieties available, from dwarf shrub types to tall, stately columnar trees, to the beautiful weeping varieties. Norway Spruce also come in a wide variety of colors. Globe Blue Spruce has very light silvery-blue needles, Weeping White Norway Spruce is classic deep forest green, Cupressina Norway Spruce is a vibrant blue-green, and Columnar Norway Spruce is a gorgeous golden-green.
Yews have been a landscaping classic for many years. They’re a solid, reliable choice that is virtually maintenance-free as long as its soil has good drainage. Yews are generally a bit of a lower-level spreading shrub, but there are also upright varieties that can grow up to 25′ tall. Yew is excellent because it can tolerate full sun or shade. The Hicks Yew produces pretty bright red berries in the fall. Everlow Yew is particularly tolerant of wind, but it only grows 2-3′ tall, so it is more suited for low hedges.
Boxwood is a broadleaf evergreen well suited for low-hedging. It tolerates pruning well and is an excellent plant for shaping into a topiary. Boxwood is drought-resistant, and generally deer-resistant—although, during a harsh winter, deer will eat pretty much anything. Boxwood is also available in a few different shades of green.
When choosing evergreens for your landscape in Bettendorf, it’s essential to make note of which spots in your yard are shady or sunny, which way prevailing winds flow through your property, and what purpose you want your new shrubs or trees to serve. It’s also a good idea to measure the spaces you want to fill, and compare that with the mature size of the trees or shrubs you’re considering.
With a little bit of information about your yard and what you need, our horticulturalists can help you choose the perfect evergreens to protect your landscape and keep your yard looking great all year long. Visit our garden center this weekend for more information about how you can incorporate evergreens into your landscape design.