Think back to previous winters, when you looked out a window of your home, come December or January. What did you see in your winter garden?
Perhaps blankets of snow, or piles of dead leaves depending on the weather. But was there any visual appeal to your garden through the winter months?
If your answer is no, it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space so that it is a pleasure to behold, twelve months of the year.
Start With A Little Planning
Before winter sets in, visualize your garden as it will appear in January and ask yourself these questions:
- Does it include a variety of pathways, levels, walls?
- Are there any eye-catching attractions non-vegetal focal points, like rocks and boulders?
- Do you have easy to clear pathways for your pets and other people to navigate?
- Do you have foliage that is still attractive in the winter?
- Do you have firewood that you store year-round?
Variety For Your Garden
Being able to access the garden, even through the winter, makes the long season bearable.
Having pathways that are stable, well-built and either covered with interlocking paving stone or other stone work, can help make your garden accessible year round. After all, you need to be able to easily remove the snow from the path, to continue to enjoy it.
Adding in different levels to your garden, including a well-placed garden wall or two, provides interesting visual relief. Instead of looking out on a flat, often white space in the winter, you’ll have bushes and plants on different levels to attract the eye.
Garden walls are particularly attractive for visual interest, but you do need to make sure you build them correctly so that they don’t fall or crack under the pressure of ice and snow.
Pathways and walls need to be correctly placed and built to ensure that there is proper drainage in your garden, avoiding patches of ice forming where water can’t clear out.
If you’re not sure how to go about this, consider getting some professional help from a hardscaper.
Non-Vegetal Focal Points
Whether you like concrete statues or displays, or a more natural composition of boulders and rocks, creating non-vegetal focal points keeps your garden more interesting regardless of the weather outside.
Every rock or boulder is unique, and whether your go for one giant monolith or a grouping of smaller pieces, consider the vegetation that will grow around it to keep that natural look.
When adding rocks or boulders, you need to consider the following:
- The size – bigger isn’t always better, depending on the look you’re trying to achieve in your garden. Good proportions are more important.
- Placement – where you put these features in your garden is very important but they are also hard to move, so try to do some visualizing before your pieces arrive.
- Shape and colour – if you already have rock features in your garden, any additions should blend in with them.
Prep Your Pathways
We’ve already noted that you should have pathways into your garden that are easy to clear but it’s equally important to make sure that they are in good repair.
The freeze and thaw cycles of winter can cause a lot of damage, particularly if you’ve got drainage issues, so before the winter sets in for the season, make sure your pathways are all in good repair and effectively draining.
Deciduous trees are lovely in any garden but once those leaves are gone, you’re left with little visual appeal until spring returns.
Mix in a few evergreen trees or shrubs and some ornamental cedars to keep the appeal. Just don’t overdo the evergreens as they will attract mosquitoes in the summer!
Holly and juniper bushes are also excellent options, mixed into your beds or surrounding the natural rocks.
The pops of colour from the berries are gorgeous, particularly set against the dark green of the leaves and your evergreens, as well as the snow!
Dogwood shrubs are also lovely, thanks to their signature red / burgundy bark.
Ornamental grasses are the perennial that stay the course through winter and snow, popping out to create a visual break in the landscape.
They come in many colours, which makes them a standout choice.
And if you’re thinking of adding any trees to your garden, one that looks particularly good throughout the winter, thanks to its bark, is a birch tree.
Decorate With Your Firewood
If you have the good fortune to have a wood burning stove, you can be creative with your stack by putting in a covered rack, somewhere in visual range, and stacking your wood there.
It will still be protected from the elements but will add a rustic appeal to your garden. Something straight out of Norman Rockwell painting!
However you choose to add a little something to your winter garden, the key is to create a space that you can enjoy, even from behind your living room window, as you grip a mug of hot cocoa.