Would you rather welcome winter enthusiastically this year, instead of holing up and waiting for spring? Would you spend more time outdoors – or at least appreciate it more through a living room window – if it wasn’t so darn blah?
If you’re resigned to watching all the color and beauty be drained out of your landscape by Jack Frost once again, we’re here to show you a better way to spend the cold months. Believe it or not, your landscape can be every bit as beautiful and charming throughout winter as it is during the rest of the year, whether it rains, shines, snows, or blows.
It requires a bit of planning and strategic design, but the effort is well worth it when you realize the difference that the right choices can make. Here are some ideas to get you thinking beautifully about winter, and maybe even looking forward to the change!
Go Bright With Berries
Who says you need flowers for a colorful garden? Berries come in some of the brightest, loveliest colors you’ll see. A clear choice for berries is the bold Holly plant, which is either evergreen or deciduous depending on the variety you choose. These incredibly versatile plants come in dwarf varieties that are a mere six inches in shrub height, or tree-size, up to 70 feet tall!
Evergreen holly is the most common, and you’re bound to recognize it by its shiny green leaves and bright red berries. But don’t overlook the beauty of the deciduous Winterberry holly, which may lose its leaves but offers an even more colorful and bold display of berries. After the last of the leaves has fallen you can look forward to thousands of gorgeous red berries clustered along every stem.
But red isn’t your only option – the Beautyberry shrub is another deciduous plant that leaves behind clusters of tiny purple berries. These berries come into their own in autumn and will continue to delight your eye through mid-winter.
As an added bonus, berry plants attract birds, including Bluebirds, Cardinals and the orange-yellow Waxwing, which are welcome additions to a winter landscape.
Add Appeal With Bark And Branches
Deciduous trees may lose their leaves, but with some trees that can be an exciting time! When leaves are gone, the trunk and branches become the focus, so trees with visually distinct bark and branch patterns become the stars here.
Red Twig Dogwoods add exactly the color you’d think they would. It isn’t until these trees lose their leaves that the wonderful color of the branches really stands out.
Paper Birch trees are renowned for their white bark, which peels into lovely paper-thin wisps. You may also appreciate the delicate and drooping catkins that form along branches, turning from green to brown as winter approaches, becoming even more interesting once the leaves have fallen.
There are many options for deciduous shrubs and trees that get even more interesting after they shed their leaves. Intricate branch patterns can be a visual delight in themselves, or can be lit strategically at night to create a unique interplay of light and shadow.
Uncommon branch patterns are also perfect for catching snow, making a stormy winter landscape that much more beautiful.
Span Dimensions With Tall Grasses
Tall, ornamental grasses are a lovely addition to your landscape during any season, but they are especially effective during winter when the overall view tends to be a bit more sparse and a bit more grounded.
Tall grasses add height and texture, as well as motion and sound when the winds begin to blow.
Switchgrass is hardy and can grow in poor soil, changing from blue-green during spring and summer, to gold throughout the cold months.
Maiden grass is another variety that thrives in poor soil and drought conditions, making it a year-long favorite. As an added bonus, it isn’t a favorite of hungry deer, which means you don’t have to worry that it will be munched down to the ground. There are many varieties of this grass, from dwarf to mid-height at three feet tall, all the way up to fifteen feet tall.
Most types share the incredible feathery plumes that appear in early fall, and dance and sway in even the slightest breeze. Add a light dusting of snow and your winter landscape has just become magical.
Remember all those pots, planters and containers that were once filled with blooms and overspilling with greenery? No need to let them become expensive doorstops until spring! It’s quite easy – and effective – to use them to display some winter elegance, too.
Whether they’re window boxes, hanging planters, porch containers, patio pots or something more unique like a wheelbarrow-turned-planter, they’re all essential components of a lovely winter landscape.
At the most basic, you can fill them with evergreens – whether full plants like evergreen shrubs, small trees or holly bushes – or use cut branches and boughs adorned with seasonal trappings.
Or, think beyond greenery to the stark beauty of winter whites. Birch branches do double duty in containers, so collect some that have fallen from trees or grab a bunch from a local nursery and tie with a bow or some natural raffia ribbons.
Window boxes do well with myriad types of décor, from mini pumpkins and gourds in fall, to pinecones and garlands in winter. Include other unique items like a bird house, lantern, oversized Christmas ornaments in bright colors, snowmen, and just about anything you can imagine.
Tall, dried grasses do just as well in window boxes as in the ground. In fact, anything from autumn mums to winter cabbage can add color, texture and visual appeal to what might otherwise become an empty container.
Bring On The Magic With Lighting
Winter days can be dull and nights are definitely long. That’s why lighting is so essential for a truly enjoyable outdoor space. Whether it’s illuminating the walkway to your front door, washing your home in warm light, casting a soft glow among gardens or creating dramatic shadows out of bare branches, lighting will transform any “blah” space into one of magnificent beauty.
There are so many exciting and effective lighting techniques depending on the ambiance you want to create and the effects you want to achieve.
Try placing spotlights along the base of your exterior walls to make your home the centerpiece of an evening scene. Or place them behind an object with an interesting shape, like a sculpture, or a tree or shrub with elegant bare branches. This will create a backdrop where shadows can play.
Illuminate planters and containers so they can be enjoyed day and night in uniquely different ways. And don’t underestimate the power of lighting combined with water, whether a pond or waterfall, or something as simple as a bubbling column or fountain. You’ll be rewarded with a serene glow as well as soothing sounds. If you’re lucky, your water feature will freeze over during cold months and treat you to spectacular ice sculptures.
Create Visual Interest Without Plants Or Trees
You don’t need a “living” landscape to have a beautiful one. There is beauty in other naturalistic elements that persists through the seasons. Hardscapes come to mind – think natural stepping stone pathways, rock gardens or strategically placed large boulders.
Naturally reclaimed branches and driftwood can serve as a completely unique focal point in a silent winter garden.
A rustic gazebo, natural wood arbor, or trellis can add height, depth and visual interest as winter focal points even after the greenery has faded.
Oversized, bold planters will serve you well here, as well as fountains, columns, bubblers and other water features. A fire pit is also a fantastic winter touch, serving not only as a point of visual interest, but a place to gather with cozy blankets and hot mugs on chilly evenings.
A favorite sculpture or a special piece of outdoor artwork will really shine without competition from bright flowers and other summertime garden elements.
There are so many creative ways to bring your landscape to life during winter that you’re limited only by imagination. Why resign yourself to a season of “blah” when you could enjoy a season of changing colors, textures, sounds and motions, all right in your own yard?
If you’re not quite yet looking forward to what winter will bring, then let’s talk! Contact us for a consultation and we’ll show you just how stunning your winter outdoor space can be. Isn’t it time you enjoyed *every* season?