How to Add Interest to Your Winter Garden

pic_03Your winter garden doesn’t have to be a boring and bare landscape. You can enjoy the beauty of nature all year long. Just follow some of these tips to improve the look of your garden during the winter.

The main way to add interest to the winter garden is of course with plants! After all, it is a garden! However, the plants that work to make an interesting winter garden are not necessarily known for their foliage and flowers.

Choosing plants that will look good during the colder months is more a matter of thinking about bark, berries, and shape. Many plants, such as Japanese maple, have unusual colors of bark. Other trees, like the Japanese Pagoda tree, have interesting fruits or seeds that form during the fall and winter. Deciduous vines like wisteria can form strange, twisting branches that look like surreal sculptures in the winter. Evergreen plants are an obvious pick for creating an attractive landscape for the winter.

Our list of plants for an adding interest you your winter garden can help give you an idea of what to grow. Use your imagination and you’re bound to create a beautiful winter landscape. Also, see this website from Purdue University (PDF file) for lots of great plants for the winter.

You can also make a protected area of your garden where you can try growing a true “winter garden” with frost hardy plants. If you’d like to dedicate a specific area of your yard to a winter garden, it’s good to try and block the area off from winter winds. Wooden fences or natural green fences made from evergreen shrubs and trees can serve as wind breaks. Remember to pick an area for your winter garden that gets plenty of sunlight.

Once you have a protected area, you can plan on growing a number of attractive ornamental plants in this section of your garden. Pansies are a good pick. Many bulbs also flower in late winter and early spring. Grasses like blue fescue and blue oat grass maintain their structure and some of their color during the fall and winter.

Try out vines for a great wintertime effect. Both evergreen vines like Boston ivy and deciduous vines like wisteria work well in the winter garden. Wisteria is an especially interesting vine because it is very sculptural. Try training wisteria over a garden arbor or a trellis, or even up onto a balcony.

Look for some evergreen groundcovers to place in your garden as well. “Hens and Chicks” works in the winter, as well as different kinds of euphorbia. See this website from the USDA on growing euphorbia.

Try growing plants in raised beds and containers. Soils dry out quicker in raised beds and containers. Additionally, diseases and pests are easier to treat. You can also cover your raised beds during the coldest days of the year to protect your plants.

Please see our full list of recommended ornamental plants for fall and winter gardening.

Try out garden sculptures and other landscaping features to make your garden attractive during the winter. Arbors, trellises, other structures will look great in your winter garden. In an article on adding interest to the winter garden, CBS News recommended defining the space with a garden arbor and letting evergreen vines crawl up and over the arbor. Garden weathervanes are also a nice feature for your winter garden.

Also, keep garden paths free of ice and give yourself room for strolling. Try out an environmentally-friendly deicing agent for your landscaping.

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