Evergreen Shrubs: What To Plant Between The Sidewalk And Street
By: Heather Rhoades
In this modern world, we want to have the best of both worlds. We want green, lovely, evergreen shrubs lining our streets and we also want convenient, snow-free streets to drive on. Unfortunately, streets, salt, and shrubs do not mix well. Those who have wondered, “How does road salt affect plant growth?”, only need to see a streetside plant in spring to know. Most things you plant between the sidewalk and street do not survive the winter.
This does not mean that there is nothing that you can plant there. Knowing a little about street strip ideas, plant needs, and salt-tolerant plants can help you with what to plant between the sidewalk and street.
Street Strip Ideas – Plant and Shrub Choices
The answer to, “How does road salt affect plant growth?” is that the excess salt creates an imbalance in the water in the plant cells. This imbalance typically kills the plant. Because of this, you are best to choose salt-tolerant plants and shrubs when deciding what to plant between the sidewalk and street. Here are some evergreen, salt-tolerant plants and shrubs:
- American holly
- Austrian pine
- Chinese holly
- Colorado spruce
- Common juniper
- English yew
- False cypress
- Japanese black pine
- Japanese cedar
- Japanese holly
- Japanese yew
- Littleleaf boxwood
- Longleaf pine
- Mugo pine
- Rockspray cotoneaster
- Wax myrtle
These evergreen shrubs make an excellent answer to what to plant between the sidewalk and street. They will survive the road salt and plant well along roadsides. So, if you are looking for shrubs for street strip ideas, plant one of the ones above most suited to your area for the best results.
This article was last updated on
Read more about General Shrub Care
The Best Flowers You Can Plant Around a Mailbox
The Spruce / Almar Creative
If you live in an area where the mailbox is mounted on a post next to the street or road rather than on the exterior wall of your house, you may be looking for a way to soften the look of the post. A great way to do this with plants of some kind. But these areas are often a bit challenging, since road-sides experience rather harsh conditions from dust, road salts, traffic fumes, dogs, foot traffic and other hindrances.
So what plants work well in these difficult locations?
Edging Evergreens for Garden Borders
Before you run to your local garden care center and pick up low growing shrubs, there are a few things to consider. The amount of space you have in your yard, which hardiness zone you live in, how much sun your backyard receives during the day, and placement are all crucial factors when choosing evergreen bushes.
What is an Evergreen shrub?
Some evergreen shrubs have needle-like leaves while others have simple leaves. Both types of evergreens are shrubs that stay green all year round no matter what the temperature or weather conditions.
Their never-ending greenery makes them ideal as a natural fence, garden border, or edging along the yard. Unlike evergreen trees, shrubs are smaller and generally rounded, with several stems growing from ground level rather than a single trunk.
Do Evergreens Grow Anywhere?
Evergreens grow just about anywhere and are easy to grow. The key to growing these types of shrubs in your area is to determine your USDA hardiness zone. Each zone determines which kinds of plants grow for specific locations.
The hardiness map is broken up into numbered sections based on the average annual winter temperature and is useful for choosing the right shrubs for your area. While most evergreens tolerate full shade, they grow best in part shade to full sun.
Where Should I Place Border Evergreens?
Border evergreens are a great way to separate specific areas of your yard. Consider growing hedging plants around a flower bed to accentuate the garden along the walkway to your front door to create a stunning path between the driveway and your yard or around your home as foundation plantings.
Border shrubs are also an excellent way to separate your yard from your neighbors without being intrusive. If neighbors, wildlife, or someone else’s pets are a problem, think about privacy shrubs with thorns to deter unwanted visitors from entering your property without an invitation.
Shrubs for swimming pool landscaping not only add beauty to the area but shield it from potentially prying eyes.
Are Evergreen Hedges Easy to Maintain?
While evergreen shrubs are easy to maintain, they do require routine care to thrive. Water and feed your plants regularly to encourage root development and good plant health. Prune the evergreens as needed to help the shrubs keep their uniform shape, keep them tidy, and promote bud growth near the plant’s edges.
When shearing your hedges, make sure to keep the bottom wider than the top to prevent lower branches from losing foliage. Use mulch around your shrubs to prevent the soil from drying and discourage weed growth.
Yew (Taxus bachata)(thefutureis/123rf.com)
The yew is a long-lived shrub that comes in many low growing varieties, making it ideal for hedging around a garden or pathway. It has soft-needled green foliage with occasional red berries that are toxic to people, but birds enjoy eating.
Yews are small green shrubs that are easy to prune and shape and are tolerant of many conditions, including drought. They thrive in zones 4 through 7 and grow well in both shady and sunny locations. The average height and width of low growing varieties is 4 feet.
Azalea (Rhododendron) – Low Growing Evergreen Shrubs for Borders with Colorful Blooms
Azaleas come in deciduous and evergreen varieties and produce profuse blooms of varying colors in the spring. The fragrant colors range from purple, red, and orange to white, yellow, and pink flowers. They have broadleaf foliage in deep green shades. Although they only bloom for a short time, the display is breathtaking.
The evergreen varieties grow to a height of 6 feet or less and have a mound-like shape, making them an ideal border shrub for the yard. These easy shrubs to grow are deer resistant, enjoy partial shade, and grow best in zones 3 through 9.
Rainbow Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana)(tamu1500/123rf.com)
This hardy evergreen shrub requires very little care with variegated foliage that provides a splash of color to the yard in shades of green, pink, bronze, and cream. Its leaves are thick and grow on 2-foot long drooping stems, giving the shrub a whimsical look.
This bush requires acidic soil for optimal growth and thrives in zones 5 through 8. It grows best in wet areas of the yard and tends to spread quickly. The rainbow leucothoe grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet and produces clusters of flowers.
Boxwood (Buxus) – Traditional-Style Evergreen Border Shrub(maykal/123rf.com)
Boxwood is a traditional shrub enjoyed in formal gardens. It is easy to manipulate and maintain into different sizes and shapes, making it the perfect shrub for edging. It has glossy green leaves, which give it an elegant appearance.
It’s easy to keep boxwood at the height of 1 to 3 feet, depending on the type and amount of pruning it receives. This deer resistant shrub thrives in zones 4 through 8 and enjoys part to full sun.
This popular shrub is a favorite for use as a border or hedge because of its fast growth rate and hardy appearance. It has dense green foliage that takes on a bronze cast during the fall and winter months.
Arborvitae is drought tolerant and deer resistant. This bush thrives in zones 2 through 7 and enjoys part to full sun. The smaller varieties have a trim, pyramidal shape, which gives it a regal appearance as a border shrub.
Yucca (Yucca filamentosa) – Flowering Evergreen Shrub with Unique Flair(lemanieh/123rf.com)
Yucca is a robust plant that you probably don’t associate with evergreen bushes. However, this plant is a unique addition to any border area. It has long blades of evergreen foliage and produces tall candelabra-like blossoms in white and pink shades throughout the late summer and fall.
Small varieties of Yucca grow approximately 3 feet in height and 3 feet wide. These low maintenance plants are deer resistant and drought tolerant and thrive in full sun areas in zones 4 through 11.
This classic shrub provides interest to the yard throughout the entire season with its vibrant foliage. Its evergreen leaves add consistent color to a border in shades of green, yellow, and rich burgundy.
Barberry is a tough hedge plant that thrives in zones 3 through 9. It has an average height and width of 5 feet and enjoys partial to full sun. This low maintenance shrub is deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei) – Natural Border with Colorful Fall Foliage(ozdereisa/123rf.com)
There are many varieties of Euonymus, one of the most common being the burning bush with its stunning orange and red foliage during the fall months. Other types produce hot pink and orange fruits that attract birds to the yard.
Some types have a sprawling evergreen habit, and all thrive in zones 4 through 8. They are low maintenance, deer resistant shrubs that thrive in both shade and sun. The smaller varieties have an average height of 3 feet, and some types spread up to 15 feet.
Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)(maykal/123rf.com)
The Mugo pine has a low growing habit that makes it appealing as an edging shrub or groundcover in rock gardens. This easy-growing shrub stays small and maintained with its bright green needle-like foliage.
This species of conifer has a mature size of 3 to 5 feet tall with a spread of up to 10 feet wide. It flourishes in zones 3 through 7 and enjoys full sun to part shade. They are a hardy shrub that is also drought tolerant.
Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – Border Shrub that Attracts Pollinators to the Yard(angelarohde/123rf.com)
Cherry laurel attracts birds to the area with its cherry-like red fruits. It is fast-growing and produces sweet-smelling, white flowers during the early spring. Birds, bees, and other pollinators are attracted to this bush, giving it more appeal to the yard.
This handsome evergreen shrub tolerates shady areas. Cherry laurel thrives in zones 5 through 9 and is deer resistant. This bush requires pruning in the early summer after it blooms for optimal growth.
Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila)(manfredkoch/123rf.com)
The dwarf Norway spruce is the perfect shrub for using as a border along a pathway or garden with its rounded shape. This plant doesn’t outgrow the area, and its hardy dark green foliage makes it unbeatable for the yard.
This informal hedge reaches a mature height of 2 to 3 feet. As dwarf shrubs for full sun locations in zones 3 through 8, this spruce is both attractive and serviceable. Prune this deer resistant and drought tolerant shrub occasionally to keep it tidy.
Viburnum (Viburnum opulus) – Evergreen Shrub Border with Fragrant Showy Flowers
Viburnum produces highly fragrant white and pink flowers with stunning foliage and stem color. Not only is this shrub ideal for planting as a border, but it is so diverse, that there is bound to be the perfect one for your garden.
This flowering bush blooms in the spring and provides colorful fall foliage in zones 2 through 9. It is low maintenance, deer resistant, drought tolerant, and thrives in part to full sun. The smaller varieties reach an average height of 3 to 8 feet with a spread of 3 feet.
Pair your viburnum with short perennial grasses to make a statement and to highlight the different species in the same location.
There is a vast variety of juniper varieties, ranging from ground cover to hedge-style. They have blue-green and gray-silver foliage that range from small, sharp needles to scale-type leaves.
These low maintenance conifers are deer resistant, drought tolerant, and make a great natural border for the yard. They grow best in zones 3 through 9 and thrive in part to full sun. The small varieties of juniper average 3 feet tall, and they provide winter interest to the yard.
Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica) – Evergreen Shrub with Chains of Flowers(nickkurzenko/123rf.com)
This shrub goes by many names, including the lily of the valley bush, due to its dainty white, red, and pink flowers that resemble tiny bells. The flowers grow along a stem in chains of fragrant blooms during the spring with new foliage growth in shades of orange and red.
The Japanese andromeda grows best in zones 5 through 8 and enjoys partial to full sun. It is low maintenance and deer resistant, and the small varieties grow to a height of 3 to 8 feet with a width of 3 feet.
Finding the perfect evergreen shrub with the right profile for creating an edge around your flower garden or walkway is easy once you know what to look for in a plant. Place flowering shrubs along the path to your home or pruned boxwood around a garden. However you decide to plant your shrubs, they are sure to add curbside appeal.
Choosing proper low growing evergreen shrubs for borders creates a naturally attractive barrier around outdoor spaces to give your yard visual appeal, so why not share our evergreen border shrub list with your friends on Pinterest and Facebook?
10 Best Small Evergreen Shrubs
If you select your shrubs carefully, they can surely add ample color and energy to your garden. Among different options of shrubs, evergreen shrubs are the most favored because they are there with you no matter what time of the year. Better yet, small evergreen shrubs can serve as ground cover and at the same time, leave you much space. Listed below are 10 recommended small evergreen shrubs for you.
Botanically known as Buxus, Boxwood is one of the most favorite among plant lovers. If you desire a neat and tidy look around your garden, or better yet, you want to make a fence out of evergreen shrubs, box should be your top pick. A typical box shrub grows up to 5m tall and 5m wide making it ideal for small spaces.
Box Shrubs are easy to maintain and grow, autumn and spring being the best seasons for plantation. Perhaps the most charming feature about the box is its compact structure that can be shaped as you like.
If you want to add some color and life to your backyard, growing Lavender shrubs is a good option. With a beautiful bright color, Lavender Shrubs are the perfect evergreen, easy to manage shrubs that can help you decorate the surroundings of your house with very little labor. It is one of the easiest shrubs to grow because it is resistant to drought and can survive in sandy soil as well.
Growing to a height of around 1m, Lavender shrubs can be used to cover either a vast area on the ground, a thin and well-kempt border across the garden or it can even be grown in small patio containers.
Holly is one of the perfect small evergreen shrubs to grow if you want to give a sophisticated and rich look to your cultivation space. Holly Shrubs have very dark green and glossy leaves, in the midst of which, bright red cherries pop out to add a beautiful charm to the shrub. Holly has a number of variants, all of which can be grown either in open spaces or as densely packed hedges.
Also known as Christmas Holly, this evergreen shrub grows up to 15 inches tall. Since it can survive under a full sun or a partly shaded area as well, the Holly is low maintenance and a delightful presence around a garden.
Apart from a well-structured form and spiky leaves, Mahonias have an added plus: beautiful, bright yellow flowers. These flowers grow in clusters on the tips of the bright green leaves, making for an excellent color combination in depressing winters! Mahonias are one of those evergreen shrubs that require very little care and can grow in various types of soils.
Growing somewhere between 2.3 to 4m in height, Mahonia species can be planted as ground cover or even as prominent shrubs that line the outside of hedges.
Camellia is a beautiful flowering small evergreen shrub known for large, round flowers. With deep green foliage, Camellia is a wonder shrub with flowers that come in colors like white, red, pink and even yellow. Some varieties of this shrub are tall, however, dwarf ones are also available- the choice depending on how much area you want covered.
The maximum height that a Camellia reaches in several years is six feet, though you can maintain it to the height you desire. The best places to grow these plants are in patio pots and borders that are rich in acidic soil.
Fatsia is a shrub that has hand like leaves that grow on upright stems. This feature being its strongest pull, Fatsia is also a favorite in households because its plantation process is not labor intensive and it can grow in coastal conditions and shady areas as well. In the autumn season, this shrub flowers into white, rich and creamy buds that can be an amazing decoration outside the main entrance.
Fatsia is not very compact because the leaves jut down in different directions therefore, using a large pot is the best way to grow and maintain it. Fatsia grows between 5 to 8 feet tall.
Blue Star Juniper
If you are interested in foliage shrubs, Blue Star Juniper is your best option of small evergreen shrubs. Consider this shrub a shorter, more compact version of Blue Spruce Trees because it has a similar appearance to the latter. While Blue Star has no flowers, its spiky blue needle-like leaves make up for the absence of these in a very grand manner. Resembling a bush, Blue Star is a dwarf plant that doesn’t grow more than 2 feet tall, making it an excellent choice for a ground-cover shrub.
Compact, fragrant and beautiful, Daphne is an small evergreen shrub that blossoms in winter, giving your otherwise dry garden a bright and warm look. This shrub is one of the slowest growing plants in the Plant Kingdom, making it an ideal pick for a garden where you want low shrubs. The tinge of yellow on the sides of the leaves and exotic purple flowers add a very artistic look to it.
Growing to about 0.5 meters in full height, the Daphne can be cultivated in sunny or partially shaded areas as well.
If you are on the lookout for an evergreen shrub that is highly tolerant of dry soil, lack of sunlight and harsh climatic conditions, Aucuba is your answer. A foliage shrub, Aucuba has many varieties available for cultivation, the yellow-speckled leaves being the most famous one. The splash of bright yellow on the deep green leaves resembles an artistically made oil painting.
While the plant itself is low and short, the leaves on it are long and leathery, giving it a rich look. Aucuba grows up to 2.5 meters in height.
The beauty of Moonshadow Euonymus lies in the striking green and gold combination of its leaves. Being at its best in the spring season, Moonshadow is an exotic evergreen shrub that changes its color to off-white as the growing season wears on. It is a short plant that needs very little maintenance and is perfect as a ground cover because of highly dense foliage.
The maximum height for this shrub is 1 meter, therefore it can be grown as a border outside the garden. Euonymus species can also be made to climb walls and pillars if you want them to be coated with a dense layer of colorful foliage.
Easy steps to reclaim a strip
- Remove weeds and unwanted plants. Dig them up, smother with black plastic, or spray with a glyphosate-based herbicide.
- If the strip is long, put a strategic path across it to guide pedestrians steppingstones, bricks, and mulch all work well.
- If soil is compacted and lifeless, dig or till in 2 to 3 inches of well-rotted manure or compost. Otherwise, dig or till the native soil to at least 8 inches deep, avoiding areas within tree drip lines.
- Pick a dozen or fewer species and plant in drifts for a simple, classic look.
- For faster coverage, space plants a bit more closely than normally recommended. You can remove some later if needed.
- Spread a 1-inch layer of small-diameter mulch—such as pea gravel or crushed shells for sunny areas, shredded leaves or coarse compost in dry shade—around plants. Avoid growth-stunting organic mulches such as bark or wood chips.
- Water weekly for the first few months unless there is regular rain. After that the plants should manage with little irrigation.
- Keep up with weeding, which should be almost nil once plants fill in.
- Cut back spent flowers. Remove any dead material from the previous season as new growth resumes.
Next: Planting for a long bloom time
The 10 Most Beautiful Flowering Shrubs to Plant in Your Garden
If your garden doesn't have flowering shrubs, you're missing out! Annuals and perennials are important, but shrubs have a big job to do! They attract pollinators, provide screening and privacy, and brighten up the garden with colorful blooms throughout the season. Most shrubs thrive for years without too much work on your part. And with today's smaller yards and gardens, many shrubs have been developed that are dwarf varieties of old favorites so they won't overwhelm your space and require loads of maintenance. To give your shrub a good start, choose the right plant for the right place. First, make sure it's suited for your USDA hardiness zone (check yours here). Then pay attention to where you plant it. Read the plant tag or description to learn what it requires. Full sun is considered 6 or more hours of direct sun per day, while or part shade is about half that. Don’t forget to water after planting—and regularly for the first two seasons— to help it get established. And remember that autumn, when rainfall usually is ample and the temperatures are cooler, is a great time to plant shrubs.
Here are a few of our favorite showstoppers for every type of garden.