In the winter most of the plants and shrubs in the garden seems to wilt and die, perhaps leaving you with a sad, colourless palate waiting breathlessly to be revived again. You may think there was no such thing as a winter garden, but there’s good news. Winter landscaping is possible — especially if you add some beautiful coloured lights that can change with the seasons.

Are you interested in turning your garden into a winter paradise? You can add lights now. Then come spring/summer, plan to plant some new shrubs and trees that will pop with daytime colour in your beautiful snow oasis next time the cold weather hits.

Lanterns, lit pathways, uplighting that highlight architectural features on your home, arbors, Christmas lights along the tops of fences — all these ideas can make your home into a wonderland for all seasons. Spend the frigid “-ber months” planning what changes you can make to the garden, and use a little ingenuity to add sparkle to your frosty frontage  right now.

“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens – the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind’s eye.” – Katherine S. White

Start designing a colourful winter garden. | Credit: Nicole De Khor

Unexpected Colour

Despite the stereotypical image of the winter garden as barren and pale, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. There are many ways to add splashes of colour and hue to your backyard, even in the middle of a freezing cold winter. There are plants and trees that survive and even thrive during the winter season.

For example, hollies (which have bright green evergreen as well as colourful berries), are a good planting idea. The red-twigged dogwood plant is another excellent choice if you want to add more reddish shades in your back garden during the colder seasons.  In the fall, you can trim that dogwood and save the branches to stick in pots around your garden around holiday time. They add a beautiful splash of colour during the drab winter months.

Crabapple trees not only add colour; they provide sustenance for the local bird population. Consider adding a couple of these trees to your backyard to help feathered friends survive the winter with some fresh berries. There are also a few plants that actually bloom with colourful, fresh flowers in the frigid months. It is possible to have a colourful, vibrant garden in the winter.  For example, daffodils often bloom from February to April. Spring Snowflakes are beautiful white flowers that bloom from January to March, in the depths of winter. The Hardy Crocus blooms from January to April, with big purple, white, yellow, and blue flowers. Certainly include some of these and others in your winter garden if they’re appealing to you.

Add colour to your garden by including trees with berries.
Add colour to your garden by including trees with berries.

Choosing the right plants to add to your winter landscape can be a challenge, and there are numerous options. The ideal winter plant includes colour, an interesting type of bark, or has coloured berries. You may want the type of branches that catch snow on them for a festive, seasonal look. Evergreen foliage is always a popular choice. An interesting branching pattern is another feature to look for when choosing plants and trees.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

Plant evergreens in your backyard for a colourful, wintery look. These seasonal trees aren’t just “plain green,” as some may believe. You can get evergreens in shades that include yellow and blue, as well as a host of other bright colours. These colours are a great choice, since they’ll look distinctive in your garden all year long.

Trees and shrubs give a garden life. | Credit: Matthew Henry

Choose trees for your backyard that have unusual or colourful bark, like the birch and dogwood species. Some of these brightly coloured trees may be shrubs, which are also nice to include in a winter garden. Plant them around your perimeter or near the trees included in your snow paradise.

Landscaping Plants

It’s important to plant four-season perennials only, so you get some winter foliage included among the evergreen, birch trees, and shrubs. Great choices for wintertime landscaping are plants like dianthus (which has low hanging foliage) ornamental grasses, and hellebores.

It is possible to build a series of small greenhouses to protect and preserve your garden and plants in winter to encourage them to continue to grow. You can even create one for a vegetable garden.

The Winter Lawn

When winter comes, the wet snow and rain may make your lawn into a watery mess. Is there a way to have a wonderfully groomed lawn even in the winter? A sad winter lawn isn’t inevitable: If you follow a few steps you can have a nice-looking lawn, even during the colder months.

Your winter lawn doesn’t have to be muddy and mushy.

Continue to fertilize the lawn during winter. Buy cool weather grass seeds and spread them evenly all over the lawn, using the same method you did with the fertilizer. In autumn, cut the grass fairly short, since long strands can be damaged in winter when the lawn repeatedly freezes and thaws. Try not to cut it too short or it may lose its vitality and possibly develop dead patches. Lighting your lawn can also be a unique way to give your winter grass a facelift.

Decor and Hardscape

Another creative way to spruce up your winter garden is by adding decor to the backyard area. Ideas range in price, but all have the potential to decorate your winter paradise with flair. By placing “hardscape” among your growing things, you can achieve balance in your outdoor areas.

Think about hanging little lanterns from trees, placing baskets with decorative items in them, adding low lighting to the paths, or adding statues, fountains, chairs, and/or benches. You can also purchase decorative and/or colourful coverings to put over items you want to protect in the winter (like a hot tub), so they serve the dual purpose of protecting and decorating.

Adding lighting can give your garden some winter flair.
Adding lighting can give your garden some winter flair.

If you want a really professional look, a local full service lighting company will help with the details. Contact a company in your area that has a beautiful selection of lighting options. They can recommend the right system for your property and can install and service it. That way, you have a beautiful, well-lit (or dramatic) entryway, garden, or landscape without the trouble of maintaining it yourself.

Augusta Green Sprinklers is here to provide advice and installation for your summer watering needs and winter lighting in the Toronto area. Give us a call today at (416) 227-1666 or send us an email. We’ll sit down and start planning how to highlight the snowy paradise in your front yard or back garden.