Three Underused Evergreens for Attractive Winter Landscapes

Year-round curb appeal, little watering and maintenance
Photo: Gary Epstein

Let’s say you want to design a landscape that’s a crowd pleaser even in the winter, but you don’t want your plants to scream, “Xeric!” Here are several underused evergreens for year-round beauty and interest. They rarely need supplemental irrigation once established, yet they offer a lush look.

Woodward columnar junipers

Juniperus scopulorum ‘Woodward’ | Zones 3-9

Arborvitaes and many upright junipers can struggle in our Colorado winters—either drying out from the winds or breaking under snow loads. Woodward junipers are exceptions. They look beautiful in the snow. They don’t dry out like arborvitaes. And they have a track record of resisting limb damage from heavy snow loads.

Woodward junipers grow 20 feet tall, but only two to four feet wide, making them ideal for privacy screens, perimeter plantings and focal points. They have the look of an Italian cypress (ah, Tuscany!), but all the toughness of a native Rocky Mountain juniper.

These trees have been tricky to find in the past, but they should have wider availability in 2023.

Hardy manzanitas

Arctostaphylos x coloradensis | Zones 5-8

Hardy manzanitas have glossy-green leaves all year, adding a refreshing pop of color during our endless-shades-of-brown winters. Small, delicate flowers can appear in the spring for early emerging pollinators.

These shrubs are native to the Western Slope and work well in a Colorado landscape aesthetic. They thrive in well-drained soils, particularly on slopes.

Hardy manzanitas are more fire resistant than junipers, arborvitaes and Russian sages, so they’re ideal for developments in a wildland-urban interface.

RELATED: Putting Colorado Back in Our Landscapes

Blue Jazz piñon pines

Pinus monophyllia ‘Blue Jazz’ | Zones 4-7

Blue Jazz piñon pines are slow-growing, dwarf conifers that only grow two to six inches per year. With their slow growth rate, these well-behaved conifers won’t take over a landscape like Mugo pines. They fit right into waterwise gardens that can use an evergreen element. They’re ideal for south- and west-facing hot spots that are tough to irrigate or get reflected heat.

Native to the Nevada and California mountains, Blue Jazz piñon pines have blue-toned needles that stay blue even in maturity. Their teardrop shape and upward-curving foliage add texture and interest in the depths of winter.

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Ann Kendall

Ann Kendall, Western garden writer and Certified Colorado Gardener, Plant Select. Plantselect.org.

Ann Kendall has 5 posts and counting. See all posts by Ann Kendall

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