Best Trees & Shrubs That Keep Their Leaves All Year

Best Trees & Shrubs That Keep Their Leaves All Year

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“Good nature could winter foresee when she made the Evergreen Tree.” - Pepper Blair

Sometimes it is easy to get sick and tired of the brown or tan hues that fill the winter landscape! Once the view outside your window is a blanket of endless white, or when the dirt and grime are showing as the snow melts during late winter…you’ll be glad you included some refreshing Evergreen and Winter Interest plants in your landscape!

Instead of being disheartened at the sight of all the leaves falling, plant something that keeps its leaves all year long! 

Check out these Broadleaf and Conifer Evergreen plants and trees that add color to that dreary view outside!

Broadleaved Evergreens -vs- Evergreens

There are two types of Evergreens … So what is the difference? 

  • All broadleaved plants are those that have relatively flat leaves with a broad surface area instead of leaves that are needle-like. Well-known varieties include Holly and Boxwood.
  • Typically, almost all needle-like trees and shrubs are considered Conifers (with a few exceptions). Needle, or Conifer Evergreens, are easier to identify. A few well-known options include Spruce, Pines, and Fir. 

Both types provide year-round color, shelter, and privacy and slow the wind and drifting snow. 

Top 5 New Evergreen Shrubs to Color Your Garden Year-Round

night light cypress

There are several evergreen plants available beyond the iconic needle-bearing types! For gardens large and small, add evergreen color to your landscape, define the edges of garden beds and borders, and brighten the garden border. Or just a specimen planting that lets you see something green in a sea of white can make all the difference while you are fighting seasonal affective disorder! 

 Try out one of these more unusual evergreen shrubs to enliven your winter - and all year long for that matter!

Providing refreshing green hue, and sometimes even gold, bronze, burgundy, and red, to your landscape! These under-used and not as well-known evergreen shrubs are perfect regardless of how much room you have available!

Top 5 New Evergreen Trees to Color Your Garden Year-Round

chinese red pine

Everyone on the block may have a Blue Spruce or some Pines which can often be overused in some areas. Don’t get us wrong, there are reasons these great trees are so widely used! But perhaps you want something no one else in the neighborhood has - just to set your property apart from the rest!

Not only will you appreciate the year-round privacy, shelter, and wind-blocking abilities of these trees, but your local birds and wildlife will too once the flurries begin!

Plant these majestic trees on the corner of your property as a specimen or as part of a mixed tree windbreak along the backyard to shelter wildlife and your home from drifting snow, icy winds, and boring vistas.

Top 5 New Evergreen Privacy Trees to Block the Winter View

Ah, sweet privacy! It’s nice when you are outside barbecuing and lounging around the pool in the warmer months! But maybe you have that neighbor with all the kid's toys everywhere or a few junk cars, or worse, one that can see right into your bedroom windows once the leaves drop in the fall. So you need privacy and screening year-round!

Green Giant Arborvitae & Emerald Green Arborvitae are the gold standards and have been used everywhere for good reason. But there are so many more varieties out there! 

Create rows - both straight and zig-zagging, or curved to slow drifting snow, save time shoveling, and add color and interest, plus curb appeal around your home and garden areas!

Top 5 New Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs for Year-Round Green

In addition to Rhododendrons, some Azaleas, Holly, and Boxwood, there are many shrubs that keep their leaves year-round, blooms. These look fantastic, especially when paired with Viburnum and Winterberry Holly which may lose their leaves, but have persistent colorful berries for you to enjoy all winter! mediterranean white winter heath

Here are a few Broadleaved Evergreen shrubs you may not be familiar with!

Highlight both front and back yards, and screen out the neighbors with a friendly fence you can both enjoy. Or just provide over-wintering birds and your winter-weary eyes something to rest on as the winds howl and the sun goes down early.

Top 5 New Broadleaf Evergreen Trees to Color Your Landscape

Big plants full of leaves in the winter are a rarity because those snows can be heavy and leaves can just weigh a tree down. Sometimes even tearing limbs and branches under heavy soggy snowfall and in strong storms. Leaves are also detrimental in the winter because that means the plant must provide water, food, and nutrients to them throughout the cold winter temperatures! This is difficult when the ground is frozen and you just want to sleep until spring. prague viburnum

That’s why you don’t see too many Broadleaved Evergreen trees in areas with lots of snow and cold temperatures. But here are a few stalwart exceptions to the rule for your landscape! Just be sure to mulch their roots well and keep them watered right up until the ground freezes!

Standing like exclamation points against the winter horizon, Evergreen trees are landscape standards for a reason. Block the wind or create bird-friendly sanctuaries with these tall evergreen leafy trees! There is even Bay Laurel that does well in some mid-zone areas!

Top 5 New Unique Evergreens to Add Interest to the Garden

Need something a little off the wall and certainly not found on your block? Try a contorted or weeping evergreen tree or shrub to add fanciful texture and structure to the garden!

  • Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar
  • Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
  • Green Arrow Weeping Alaskan Cedar
  • Tiny Kurls Eastern White Pine
  • Verdoni False Cypress

Broadleaved and Conifer Evergreen Care

Low soil moisture, low precipitation, and wild swings in temperatures can cause lots of problems for many landscape plants. Many established plants can be harmed, but newly planted plants are especially susceptible to winter damage. 

Remember, keeping your trees and shrubs stress-free is the key to success. Healthy and vigorous plants can ward off insect and disease problems much easier than plants that are weak and stressed.

Protect Evergreen Trees and Shrubs from Winter Burn

In areas where parched fall weather precedes winter, there can be problems like winter burn and desiccation of evergreen trees and shrubs. Dry soils going into winter can also cause root damage, which can affect the entire plant come spring. Mild winter weather in many areas that typically have soil that is not frozen and is very dry, the plants can be susceptible to winter damage. Protect your investment with winter watering.

Winter Watering

tree watering donut

Remember both broadleaved and needle-leaved Evergreens transpire water when temperatures are above freezing, losing moisture through the foliage, with no soil moisture to replace it with. So it's important for you to provide it to keep your plants healthy year-round!

Fall and winter watering should be done if the ground is dry and not frozen. Without moisture at the root zone, plants suffer. If it's been dry and unseasonably warm and you know a freeze is on the way… it’s time to water!

Trunk and Root Protection

Broadleaved Evergreens with exposed trunks can end up splitting with the freezing and thawing from the winter sun and inconsistent temperature swings. Wrapping the trunk in reflective or white strips helps prevent this.

Roots are still active as long as the ground isn’t frozen, so be sure to mulch your trees and shrub root zones well and maintain a 3-4 inch layer of arborist wood chips yearly to retain moisture levels more consistently and to further insulate the roots from chill and temperature swings!

Winter Interest winter red holly

Don’t discredit how the snows fall on and are sculpted by bare branches in the winter! Most Cherry and ornamental Apple trees look great all winter even when they don’t have leaves! A contorted and twisting frame like Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Willow looks divine! But as mentioned earlier, you want something green to get you through the winter! Everyone is familiar with the brilliant red berries of Winterberry Holly or the bright red and yellow stems of Dogwood shrubs.

You’ll, of course, need a few Ornamental Grass for those waving seed heads and plumes, the seed pods of many perennials and shrubs, plus the delightful berries that many trees and shrubs have that persist throughout the winter months. Not only do these look great against the snow, but over-wintering songbirds need those seeds!

Do not forget the importance of adding some of the new LED landscape lights that take so little energy and the “bulbs” last for many years without having to change them. Uplight the interesting peeling bark on a River Birch tree or Crape Myrtle will make those cold short days much more enjoyable. For safety in the icy and slippery months, landscape lighting is important to highlight walkways too! 

Winter Ready Landscape!

Winter is an excellent time to assess your winter landscape. Landscape architects will always talk about structure in the garden - really the "bones of your landscape". Structure comes not only from plants but from hardscapes that you have in your yard as well. An interesting bench or garden art is still the focal point in the winter landscape!

Don’t let winter get you down - inject a bit of greenery into your landscape with these Trees and Shrubs that keep their leaves (or needles) all year long!

Happy Planting!

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