Evergreens for Water-Wise Landscapes

Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their leaves during all seasons. Although most evergreen are conifers, not all fall into this category. Examples of non-coniferous native and moderately to highly drought tolerant evergreen plants include:

Shrub in bloom with pink flowers
Rhododendron shrub in bloom Photo credit: tgpotterfield Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most evergreens require well drained soil and full sun. Not all evergreens are drought tolerant, however. For instance, pines tend to me more drought tolerant than spruces. Be sure to group trees and shrubs with similar water needs together.

Design Characteristics of Evergreens

  • Provides a year-round green or blue backdrop for other plants
  • Provide year round color and textural interest
  • Some species have showy flowers
  • Available in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Can be used for screening undesirable views
Trees by a trail
Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is an extremely drought tolerant plant native to the Intermountain West and is readily available at plant nurseries. Photo credit:brewbooks Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Things to Avoid

  • Evergreen trees planted on a south facing side of a building will restrict light from entering in the winter
  • Planting too close to a structure. Some species of evergreen trees will become very large with age

Additional Resources:


Illinois: All Evergreens Not the Same
Minnesota: Choosing Landscape Evergreens
Missouri: Selecting Landscape Plants, Needled Evergreens


Tennessee: Evergreen Trees for Screens and Hedges in the Landscape