Creating a Winterscape

Author: Alecia Pirulis


You chose a rental home with a yard because you wanted to enjoy it. And sure, in the spring and summer, your yard is a delight: a canopy of green leaves, sun-dappled grass, and a colorful variety of flowers and bushes in full bloom. Autumn is also striking with the fall foliage putting on its multi-hued show. When winter comes around, what does your yard look like?

If “desolate” was the first word that came to mind, then perhaps you need to create a winterscape. Evaluate your landscaping during the winter and notice the bare spots: what could you incorporate into your yard to make those areas more appealing? Think trellises, statues, benches, birdbaths, and oversize planters. Also, don’t forget about outdoor lighting – this is especially important in winter, when the days are so short.

If you don’t have any evergreens, consider adding a few to your yard. In the flower beds, plant some ornamental grasses along the back of the bed. They will add an interesting backdrop for the spring and summer blooms and will be the star of the show during winter.

Instead of storing pots, use them for winter-hardy evergreens and holly. Don’t plant in clay pots – they can crack. If you want to leave clay pots in the yard, empty them and turn them upside down. Also, you don’t have to plant to create a beautiful winter arrangement – fill your containers with boughs, pine cones, and twigs.

Wildlife can also liven up your winterscape, so fill your bird-feeders and hang treats from branches by coating a wooden cutout with peanut butter and pressing it into birdseed. Tie them from branches with some twine and watch the birds flock to your yard! Don’t forget the water – consider using a birdbath heater. During winter, water is difficult for birds to find; by making sure it is available, the birds will make your yard their winter-long hangout.

If you want some pops of color against the snowy landscape of winter, consider adding early-blooming flowers, such as hellebores, witch hazel, and snowdrops. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine what you can plant and when you will see those first delicate blooms peeking through the snow.

With a little planning and effort, your yard will look great year-round. In fact, you may find yourself spending more time in the garden – even during the cold winter months! For more on what to plant and when, be sure to check the Farmer’s Almanac.