If you live in an environment that experiences four seasons with a colder winter period, evergreen shrubs can add dots of color in an otherwise dreary and dull landscape. They make very low-maintenance landscaping ideas, and you can choose from a huge range of styles and types. For example, some of them will produce eye-catching flowers and some you can train to grow in specific ways to create gorgeous privacy walls that deter intruders.
Whatever your end goal is, evergreen shrubs have a place in almost any landscape. I’ve picked out some of the best evergreen shrubs for landscaping your yard, and you can read through, take a look, and find the ones that suit your wants and needs the best. Once you get them, they’re hardy enough to survive different environments and you can plant them and watch them thrive.
1. False Cypress
First up is the False Cypress, and this is a graceful evergreen shrub that has pretty needles with long and flowing limbs. This is a cold-tolerate species that does very well in zones four through eight, and you can find varieties that grow in a rough-pyramidal or pyramidal shape to add dimension and texture to your yard. It’s a low-maintenance accent plant that adds a soft, golden-green hue to your yard. They’re originally from Japan, and they can grow to be 50 to 70-feet tall, but you can easily cultivate them to keep them between 20 and 30-feet tall.
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’ (Sport, ~1889) by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
2. Inkberry Holly
This is a dwarf evergreen shrub that is native to the United States, and it grows in a unique, dense ball-shape that drops branches right to the ground to create a lush and full look. It needs to be partial to full sun, and it grows in hardiness zones five to nine. The dark green foliage looks great against a winter backdrop, and it thrives in acidic, moist soil. You can plant several together to form a hedge, and you should shape it in the winter months to keep it growing in a uniform shape. They have good shade tolerance, and you can use them in containers too.
Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra) by Elsa Spexio / CC BY-SA 2.0
3. Winter Heath
This small evergreen shrub is a favorite among first-time growers because it has a long blooming period during the colder winter months. It can flower up to six months of the year, and it gets around a foot high and wide. This makes it excellent for planting on slopes or in rock gardens. It needs zones five to seven with well-draining sandy or loamy soil and full or partial shade. The deep green foliage offsets the purple or pink blooms beautifully, and you’ll get small clusters of flowers that stand out from the body of the plant.
ERICA CARNEA by Apollonio Tottoli / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4. Arborvitae (Pyramidal Form)
When you grow this evergreen shrub in pyramidal form, you can find it in several different heights ranging from a few feet tall up to over 30-feet tall. You won’t have to prune your plant to keep it in this form. Instead, it’ll grow this way naturally. You can get deep green varieties, and others offer gold coloring that makes it a great accent shrub or privacy hedge. It survives and grows quickly in zones five to eight, and it’s a very hardy choice that does well in a range of soil and sunlight conditions.
Arborvitae by Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0
5. Golden Euonymus
Golden Euonymus is an evergreen shrub that grows three feet wide by six feet tall, and it has green and yellow foliage that grows very thick and full. It does best in zones six to nine, and it’ll need partial to full sun exposure. The bold variegated leaves give you pops of color throughout the year in your landscaping design, and it’s very easy to grow. It grows well in poor soil, full sun, light shade, and more barren environments, and this makes it a very hardy choice. It’ll flower in the spring, and this is the time to trim away any stray branches or prune it.
Golden Leaves by Leonora (Ellie) Enking / CC BY-SA 2.0
6. Adam’s Needle
Adam’s Needle is an evergreen shrub that will grow only a few feet tall, but it has an impressive flower stalk in the later spring that can reach up to six feet high. It has bright green foliage with white flowers, and it needs full sun to grow. It likes well-draining soil with dry to medium moisture, and it’ll do well in dry areas of your yard or in desert landscaping where other plants may struggle to grow. If you want something other than traditional green, you can get gold shades with different varieties of this evergreen shrub.
Evergreen Shrubs by ginny_brady / CC BY-NC 2.0
7. Evergreen Azalea
Grown in zones five to eight, this evergreen shrub likes partial shade. It has deep green foliage that has vibrant clusters of flowers in the spring that slowly drop off and give way to deep green leaves. It’ll grow between 2 and 2 ½-feet tall and get just as wide, and this makes it a nice low shrub. During the winter months, the foliage will take on a deep red hue. You need to plant it in an area protected from the harsh winds, and you should prune and shape it after it flowers. It does well in a broad range of soil conditions, and it prefers partial shade.
8. Blue Holly
This festive evergreen shrub is perfect for the holidays. It has sharp pointed leaves with bright red berries. The berries will only form if you have both the male and female plant types, and it grows best in zones five to seven. It uses moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Plant it in full to partial sun. At full maturity, this plant can grow up to 10-feet wide by 15-feet tall, and it’s easy to turn some of the branches into DIY apartment decor with a little imagination. It works well for wreaths, small doorway decorations, and more.
Holly by lisaclarke / CC BY-ND 2.0
This short evergreen shrub has a mounded form, and this makes it an excellent pick for any foundation planting you want to do. You’ll get different types of variegated leaves that have white, green, or gold tinges to them. When the colder winter months hit, they turn red to pink-hued. They grow well in zones five to eight, and you’ll need a slightly more acidic soil. However, it’s not picky as long as it drains well. For sun, you’ll want to plant it in full to partial sun, and they should be between 18 and 24-inches apart when you plant them.
Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that is iconic for the ability to shape and prune it into a huge range of creations. It can grow in sun or shade, and it can get between 24 and 48-inches tall at full maturity. It offers beautiful green foliage, and it grows best in zones five to eight. You can create topiaries, borders, and formal hedges with it, and it’s a very fast-growing shrub. It prefers well-drained but moist soil, and you should protect it from leaf burn during the winter months. You can trim it in the summer, but it’ll usually not need a full trim to stay healthy.
Boxwoods by Tina Saey / CC BY 2.0
This evergreen shrub comes in an impressive range of sizes and forms, and the colors range from an eye-catching gold to a blue-green. They work well for anyone who wants an attractive groundcover because they tend to hug the ground and be low-growing. You can also get upright varieties to make hedges, and they do well in zones three to nine. They need full sun or light shade with any soil type as long as it drains very well. If they don’t get enough light, the branches will spread out and ruin their shapes. It’s very cold-hardy.
California Juniper by The Marmot / CC BY 2.0
12. Mountain Laurel
This is a very slow-growing evergreen shrub that grows less than a foot per year when you plant it in zones four through nine. However, it likes full to partial sun, and it’ll grow between 5 and 15 feet tall with a spread that equals the height. The dark green foliage makes it a nice complement to your patio, and it offers cup-shaped flowers that bloom in May and June with white to rose coloring with purple markings. It needs well-drained soil that is rich and moist, and you won’t have to prune it a lot to keep it healthy.
Portuguese Laurel by Linda, Fortuna future / CC BY-NC 2.0
The deep green coloring with a shiny leaf set off the bright, showy flowers on the evergreen shrubs. The flowers come in shades of white, pink, and purple. Originally meant for warm climates, there are now cold-tolerant species around. They work well as an accent plant, and they need dappled shade in zones four to nine. The soil should be very rich and drain well to keep this shrub happy, and avoid planting it in places that will get full sun because it can burn the leaves. It’ll flower well into the cooler autumn months with the proper conditions.
14. Oregon Grape
Growing in zones five to eight, this evergreen shrub likes full to partial shade. It’ll grow between three and six feet tall and two to five feet wide, and it has gorgeous foliage that is green in the summer before turning to red and bronze in the winter and fall months. You can grow it by trellises to encourage height too. It’s native to the United States, and it gives you color all year round. You’ll get grape-like clusters that are edible in the spring that fade to dark blue berries in the spring. It likes well-drained soil, and you should protect it from the wind.
Oregon Grape by Theryn Fleming / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This evergreen shrub casts an excellent amount of shade on your yard, and it grows in zones 6 to 10. It has bold upright stems that cast bright gold spots. You’ll need both the male and female types of plant if you want it to produce berries. The deeper the shade you plant it in, the more brilliant the gold will be. It needs a well-drained soil with a high nutrient content to grow best, and it will get between 6 to 10-feet tall. It’ll spread out between four and five feet, and it has a maximum height of 15-feet.
Variegated Aucuba by Doug McAbee / CC BY-NC 2.0
Bearberry is an evergreen shrub that will grow up to a foot tall and spread out three to six feet at full maturity. It grows in partial to full sun in zones two to seven, and you get dark green leaves with silver-grey undersides that turn a deep burgundy in the winter and fall months. It produces urn-shaped flowers that are white with a pink tinge before giving way to red berries. It’s a low-maintenance plant that’s hard to kill, and this makes it suitable for hostile growing conditions. It will help control soil erosion if you plant it as a ground cover on a hillside or slope.
Bearberry by Bryant Olsen / CC BY-NC 2.0
Cotoneaster is an evergreen shrub that will grow between four and six-feet wide and a foot tall. It needs full sun and growing zones five to eight to do well, and you’ll get dark green leaves in the spring and summer that switch to a bronze or red color in the winter and fall. It has small, glossy leaves and some varieties will grow clusters of red berries during the winter to add pops of color. You’ll need to prune it to control the spread and help keep your specific shape, and the best time to do this is in the spring after it flowers.
Cotoneaster by Oliver / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
18. Mugo Pine
This is a very slow-growing evergreen shrub that won’t spread out and take over your garden when you plant it, and it is a very hardy pine that works wonderfully in mass plantings, rock gardens, and mixed with a range of broadleaf plants. The coloring starts at a deep green and can change to gold, and it needs zones two to eight to grow well. It needs moist but well-draining soil, and they work well as ornamental shrubs because of their ability to work with a broad range of soil types without drying out. It’s cold-hardy too.
Pinus mugo ‘Rock Island Compact WB’ by F.D. Richards /
This is a low-care evergreen shrub that offers stunning flowers that appear in the later winter months into the very early spring. By late summer and fall, these flowers turn into black and blue berries. They work well in mass plantings in zones five to nine, and they’ll need partial sun with an acidic, rich soil. They need moist or dry conditions, and six feet high by five feet wide at full maturity. The leaves are between 4 and 10 inches long with sharp edges, and you’ll get clusters of flower spikes that create a showy look.
Mahonia by Amanda Slater / CC BY-SA 2.0
20. Cedar Bushes
If you’re after a slightly larger evergreen bush, Cedar is a good choice as it can easily grow up to 40 to 60-feet with proper care. They grow well in zones six to nine, and they have a striking shape that stands out very well in your landscaping. They have a blue-green tinge to the foliage, and the foliage will sweep the ground to create a dense look. They work well as edging, by your kid’s playground sets, or in the corner of your gardens to help add shape and height to an area.
Cedar Shrub by Pierce Place / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This flowering evergreen shrub comes with a highly glossy foliage that showcases the stunning jewel-toned buds. They bloom in very early spring or around the holidays to provide welcome pops of color in a dreary environment. They need a very well-drained soil because they won’t tolerate moisture well in zones seven to nine, and they bloom better in partial shade compared to full sun. They can grow between 6 and 15-feet tall with the correct environment, and you can prune them to help control the growth.
Camellias by debs-eye / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
22. Siberian Cypress
Anyone who wants a very cold-hardy evergreen shrub should look at the Siberian Cypress. It grows very well in zones two to eight, and it has a very delicate foliage that looks like ferns. During the winter months, the foliage takes on a maroon coloring, and it works wonderfully as a ground cover around your outdoor storage shed or garage. It’s very challenging to kill, and this makes it a good choice for novice gardeners who want to plant something they can leave and it’ll survive. Plant it in full to partial shade in with a well-draining soil for the best results.
Microbiota decussata by S. Rae / CC BY 2.0
Hemlock is an evergreen shrub that is characterized by a finely textured foliage and very dense branching that make it challenging to see through. You can plant it in a mass or by itself to create a living wall, and it grows best in zones four through eight. They grow very well in partial shade, but they can grow in full shade without a problem. They need a well-draining soil with low salt content because too much salt will cause damage. They can grow between 40 and 80-feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet with the right growing conditions.
Hemlock cones by liz west / CC BY 2.0
Yew is a very dense evergreen shrub that has surprisingly fine-textured foliage with an attractive reddish-colored bark. You can get taller pyramidal varieties for privacy screens or borders, and they also have low-growing types that work for ground covers. They do best in full to partial sun with low shade, and they like zones four to seven. This is a very cold-hardy shrub that needs well-draining soil, and it can thrive in a large range of conditions. The dense foliage makes it difficult to see or walk though. It grows up to five-feet tall by 10-feet wide.
Yew by Bart Maguire / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
25. Spruce Bushes
Spruce evergreen bushes provide vivid pops of yellow with their foliage. They come in a huge range of options from dwarf bushes to enormous bushes, and they grow well in zones two to eight. The weeping spruce varieties make a striking focal point, and the dwarf ones are beautiful landscape accents. It needs fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny location to grow well, and the green foliage sticks around year-round to create a nice display when the winter months set in. You can easily trim and train the shrubs to grow in different shapes to create nice topiaries.
The spruce and the junipers in Lion’s Park by Ken Whytock / CC BY-NC 2.0
26. Winter Daphne
You can fill the early spring and late winter months with this evergreen shrub’s sweet scent. They will have pink flower buds that slowly open to white blooms and a heavy fragrance. They need zones seven through nine to do well in dappled shade, and this makes them nice tucked by your front doorway or pond. It has yellow-edges on the leaves that give you welcome color all year round, and they like a well-draining but fertile soil. The soil should also be slightly acidic, and they prefer the cooler sunlight.
Winter Daphne : 沈丁花 by Toshihiro Gamo / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
27. Valley Valentine Pieris
For any shaded areas of your yard, this evergreen shrub will bring colorful flowers during the late winter and early spring months in shades of bright pink. This is a very slow-growing specimen that will reach five to seven feet tall and wide after a few years. It grows in zones six to eight, and it works well as a hedge, shrub border, or as foundation planting. You’ll need well-draining soil in full to partial shade to help this shrub grow and thrive for years after you plant it.
Pieris jap. valley valentine by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
28. Tuscan Blue Rosemary
This evergreen shrub will form a hedge that comes loaded with fragrance and blue flowers. This rosemary plant will give you blue flowers in the late winter months into early spring, and it has needle-style leaves that also carry a fragrance and you can use them to cook. They’re very drought-tolerant if you plant them in zones five through eleven, depending on the cultivar. They love full sun and soil that drains very well, and they work well in the ground or in a container. This adds a flexibility to how you can grow and cultivate the plant.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’ (Rosemary) by josh s jackson / CC BY-NC 2.0
These 28 evergreen shrubs can provide interesting pops of color in your landscape all year-round. Most of them are extremely resilient to cold or other hostile conditions, and this makes them relatively easy to keep healthy. I invite you to take a look, see which ones would look best in your landscape, and create a stunning yard in every season.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.