Best evergreen shrubs for year-round foliage

Evergreen shrubs provide structure and a framework for the garden. When seasonal plantings lose their leaves and disappear into the background, evergreen plants keep the interest. The resilient foliage and low maintenance quality make these evergreen shrubs an attractive addition to any garden.

Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp caerulea)


This Californian native has all the qualities you want in an evergreen shrub. It’s extremely easy to grow and will establish quickly reaching up to 25 feet tall, but average height is 8 to 15 feet. The blue elderberry can be used as a large shrub, hedge or windbreak.

It’s pretty, dark blue fall berries will also not only be pleasing to the eye, they’ll attract may bird species to your garden.

Image: Oregon State University

Compacta Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra‘Compacta’)


The glossy dark green leaves of the Compacta Inkberry Holly will add depth to your gade. In the winter these leaves fade to an olive green and evergreen shrub displays an abundance of blackberries in from summer through to winter. Inkberry is a slow growing plant reaching 3-4 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide at maturity.

You won’t need to prune it often, but it can be used as a low hedge or planted on mass in clumps. Image: Centerton Nursery

Island Ceanothus (Ceanothus arboreus)


Island Ceanothus has a reputation for a short lifespan. If you replicate its natural conditions and avoid overwatering, you’re likely to improve its chances of a long life. Image: Calscape

Evergreen Azalea (Rhododendron‘Girard’s Rose’)


The evergreen azalea likes dappled shade and to be protected from strong winds. In the right conditions, it will grow to 2 x 2.5 feet tall. Image: The Planting Tree

 Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)


If your garden needs a pop of colour, Oregon Grape will offer changing colour throughout the seasons. In spring, it will produce yellow blooms, edible grape-like berries will grow in summer and in fall the green leaves will turn a golden red.

These evergreen shrubs will typically grow to a maximum of 6 x 5 feet and won’t need much pruning unless you need to keep them smaller. Image:

 Bearberry Cotoneaster (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’)


Got a brown thumb? It will be hard to kill ‘Massachusetts’ bearberry – a shrub well known for its hardy characteristics. It will survive under tough conditions including winter temperatures, harsh winds, salty air or sandy soil. So, it’s a suitable shrub for rocky sites or coastal locations.

Only 1 foot tall and spreading 3-6 feet, this is an ideal groundcover for those who are wanting a low-maintenace garden.