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FOCUS ON PLANTS: EVERGREENS
Evergreens add year round beauty and interest to your yard. They add shade, habitat, and protection for wildlife. Evergreen windbreaks slow down winter and summer winds to reduce heating and cooling bills.
Years ago choices were limited and evergreens planted around home foundations often became over-grown and unruly. Today we have hundreds of varieties to choose from. Here are a few common varieties of evergreen options today:
Low Growing Evergreens
Some low growing evergreens may get only 6 inches tall but spread 6-8 feet. These are useful on banks or wherever you want to fill in an area with a low growing shrub. Some varieties include Blue Chip Junipers and Icy Blue Junipers.
For evergreens around a foundation, there are new dwarf varieties that stay small and compact and require little or no trimming. Some of these include Hetz Midget Arborvitae, Danica Arborvitae, and Blue Star Junipers.
There are many new varieties of mid-size evergreens that grow anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall. They come in a variety of foliage and colors. Mint Julep junipers are deep green and are a good foundation plant. Sea of Gold Junipers are green with golden tips for added interest. Globe Blue Spruce grow 4-5 feet tall with a rounded shape, a very blue color, and require little or no trimming. Dwarf Norway Spruce also grow into a similar size and shape but are a deep green color.
If you have a lot of shade, Yews are your best option. These are deep green, soft needle evergreens that tolerate full or part shade. Taunton Yews grow 3-5 feet tall and wide and can be trimmed.
For some added height, upright evergreens are a good choice. Emerald Arborvitae are deep green and grow 12-15’ tall but only 3-4’ wide. Blue Arrow Junjpers grow 12 feet tall but only 2 feet wide. Techney Arborvitaes are often used on farm windbreaks. They grow about 15 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. There are many varieties of upright junipers, yews, and other arborvitaes to choose from.
There is nothing more stately than a 100 year old, 100 foot tall drooping Norway Spruce. These have survived the test of time. Unfortunately some tall evergreens have become susceptible to disease. 20 years ago Colorado Spruce were a favorite, but these have now become prone to a disease and are no longer recommended.
Eastern Red Cedars are the only native evergreen to Iowa. These have also survived the test of time and can be seen growing wild in ditches and along roadways. Although they are not the most beautiful shape, they survive the tough Iowa winters and thrive here.
One of the most fun new additions to the plant world are ornamental evergreens. A Globe Blue Spruce Tree is basically a Globe Blue Spruce on a 3 to 5 foot stem. Some old traditional evergreens are now trimmed into pom pom shapes, spirals, and other interesting forms. These all add interest and some fun to your landscaping.
Care and Maintenance of Evergreens
Care and maintenance of evergreens will extend their life and keep them looking beautiful. New plantings should be watered 2-3 times a week for the first season. Established plantings are usually self sufficient but still need to be watered in prolonged periods of dryness. Be sure plants are well watered going into winter. This helps prevent winter burn.
It is good to fertilize evergreens with Miracid fertilizer at least 2-3 times during the early growing season. It is best to not fertilize in the fall. Trim evergreens to keep a nice shape. Most can be trimmed in the early spring. For evergreen trees it is often recommended to trim one half of the “candle” as new growth emerges.
If you have a special need for an evergreen or have questions, feel free to call the nursery.