With busy 21st century lifestyles, most people would like to have a landscape that requires less maintenance. Many evergreen shrubs are available for use in your landscape that will require less pruning than leafy deciduous shrubs. Junipers, Russian Cypress, true Dwarf Mugo Pine, Hillside Creeper Scotch Pine, Hetz Midget Arborvitae and Dwarf Globe Blue spruce are all pretty low maintenance conifer shrubs that still add beauty and variety to Minnesota landscapes.
Spreading junipers that top out at heights of 4” to 18” tall usually only need a bit of pruning around the edges every two to three years. Excellent spreading Junipers include Wilton Blue Rug, Blue Prince, Japgarden, Blue Chip, Blueberry Delight,, Andorra Compact, Calgary Carpet, Arcadia, Grey Owl, and Good Vibrations Gold.
Several truly dwarf varieties of Mugo Pine include Sherwood Compact Mugo Pine, Slowmound Mugo Pine and the wonderfully asymmetrical Jakobsen Mugo Pine that takes on a Japanese garden look as it develops over time. These Mugo Pines are very cold hardy just like the spreading junipers.
Russian Cypress are beautiful almost feathery looking low growing evergreens that are extremely cold hardy. Some nice new varieties have become available in recent years such as Celtic Pride Russian Cypress, Jakobsen Russian Cypress ad Fuzzball Russian Cypress. All are very versatile as well as a proven ability to grow well in shady areas that might not have enough sunlight for junipers and pines.
For a full sun to part sun groundcover evergreen, you might want to try Hillside Creeper Scotch Pine. It has nice stiff needles that give good texture while spreading gradually to form a good looking mat.
Hetz Midget Arbrovitae is a good looking small globe that tends to not outgrow a space and is able to prosper in full sun to part day sun. Other globe arborvitae varieties tend to get bigger than most people want.
All these lower maintenance evergreens do require some maintenance, but certainly not on an every year basis like sunny leafy shrubs. Give them a try and you will probably have more time to relax and enjoy you yard.