1. Plan for Growth
Imagining your garden 20 or so years in the future, when it's achieved its mature potential, may be tough, but planning for that now is still worthwhile. Planning before planting allows you to consider not only how a plant will look next to its neighbors but, even more important, its ultimate height and spread. When choosing an evergreen, understand how large each will eventually grow, and reserve that space around each plant. This gives each tree and shrub the full share of light, water, and air circulation it needs to be healthy, resist pests and diseases, and grow, unconstricted, into the plant it was meant to be.
2. Plan for Interest
In winter, a garden depends on a mixture of shapes, textures, and colors for its appeal. These plants are in proportion to one another, and the mix of spiked, billowing and weeping textures gives a sense of movement. The trick to designing with conifers is to spend some time at a garden center dragging plants around and setting up tableaux of potential candidates. You'll know it's right when what's before you is a satisfying whole more interesting than the sum of its parts.
3. Plan for Harmony
Other considerations when landscaping with evergreens: Go for a mix of colors. Blend light and dark greens with blues, purples, and golds. Choose dwarf species; they grow slowly, so you can perform what little maintenance they need without climbing a ladder. Keep the colors and patterns of the path materials simple to avoid stealing focus from the textures of the evergreens.
Landscaper's tip: Mature evergreens save on weeding: Seeds can't sprout under such dense canopies.