The advantage of using evergreens for hedges is they are… always green. That means they can be used as windbreaks even during the winter. They can be located to keep snow from piling up on the driveway or walks. They are particularly pretty when the ground is snow covered, and look lovely with Christmas lights and snow covering them.
Deciduous plants lose their leaves during a portion of the growing season and so leave gaps in your hedges, but evergreens have year-round foliage. They can be found in different heights and colors and most need little upkeep. Arborvitae, juniper and holly are three examples of tall, medium and small shrubs of evergreen for privacy fencing.
The Irish Juniper can be used for a privacy fence. They will help to keep out unwanted sights, sounds, and nosy neighbors. It grows in a narrow, columnar form and stands together to form a colonnade of loose border evergreens.
The tall evergreen shrub called Emerald Arborvitae will grow to a height of 15 to 20 feet and needs little maintenance from you. It has flat long-lasting needles and had a dense growth. It has a spread of 4-6 feet and is narrow and upright in form.
For smaller privacy fences, when the taller privacy trees are not practical, use “Little Red” holly. These handy little shrubs are great for privacy even though they are compact in nature. They grow into dense plants about 5′ x 5′, and will grow in partial shade or full sun. You could use them around your pools or hot tub; there are no leaves or needles to clean up.
Some trees that usually grow to great heights in the forest can be kept trimmed to the height you want on your property. Eastern Hemlock and Eastern White Pine are two examples of trees that will grow to 100 feet or more in their natural habitat, but can also be trimmed into a neat hedge. They look majestic and form a dense hedge with their feathery evergreen foliage.
A beautiful example of an evergreen that can be used as a privacy screen or windbreaker is the Colorado Blue Spruce Tree. They can be grown in climate zones 3-7 and they have a delectable aroma. They are prickly in texture and should be planted so they will have partial sun with moist and fertile soil.
Spruces are popular as Christmas trees for indoor decorating and then for replanting outside after the holiday. You will want to dig the hole before the ground freezes and do not let the dirt fall inside the hole, keeping it loose so it is easily workable when you fill in around your newly planted tree.
Other examples of evergreen hedge shrubs are Holly plants, which look more like boxwood shrubs and bear small, oval leaves. They can be allowed to grow tall enough to serve as privacy screens.
Boxwoods are the original, formal hedge plant. Used widely by the aristocrat landowners in Europe for centuries, they are meant for formal garden design. They hold their shape well when cultivated into topiary shapes and are perfect for the hard lines that are needed in a formal garden.
Boxwoods are used for mazes in the more formal gardens of Europe and can be trimmed to nearly any shape you want them to be including animals or geometric shapes. Pruning is recommended two times a year, once in spring and another time in August. That will keep your boxwood looking sharp.
Yew bushes are the classic hedge plants. They are needle bearing, tolerate shade, and grow tall enough to act as privacy screens. The drawback to them is they are slow growers; they grow about 9 inches a year.
One warning about evergreen hedges. Just because they are evergreen plants does not mean they don’t require winterizing. A heavy snowfall lying on top of your hedge can cause serious damage to your plant. When you receive a heavy snowfall, brush off the snow as soon as possible to keep the added weight off your evergreens. Avoid locating your evergreens where snow will drop from rooftops to give added weight to branches.