Colorado landscapes are dormant 4-5 months out of the year, which begs the question, how do you make landscapes look good in the winter months?
There are a few key components to a good looking winter landscape. The first thing would be to keep a tidy yard. This would include cleaning up all leaves and needles that have fallen from the trees and shrubs, and to trim back all perennials and shrubs that are out of control from the growing season. However, leave up ones that create interest in the fall and winter months, such as Ornamental Grasses and Red Twig Dogwoods. This leads us into the next component which is to include plants and landscape elements that shine in the winter months such as the use of Evergreens, boulders, bird baths, lighting and water.
As I look at my own backyard landscape covered in snow, a few plants stand out while others are laying low. In the backdrop is a ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ Spruce (Picea ‘Baby Blue Eyes’) that creates a focal point in the landscape with its rich blue hue and unique shape. Ornamental grasses, such as Maiden Grasses and Feather Reed’s, are still looking great as their plumes are hardened and give a vertical interest in the landscape. The Red Twig Dogwood, a perennial favorite in the winter, with its show red twigs bring instant color to any landscape. A plant that showcases in late summer can also bring winter highlights to your yard, such as the ‘Pinky Winky’ Hydrangea. A few evergreen touches that round out my backyard are a ‘R.H. Montgomery’ Blue Spruce, a dwarf spruce in a shrub form and a ‘Mops’ Mugo Pine. The ‘R.H. Montgomery’ Spruce, is a favorite pudgy evergreen shrub of mine as it continues the light blue color in the landscape. The ‘Mops’ Mugo Pine, adds a rich green color for additional contrast.
‘BABY BLUE EYES’ SPRUCE
RED TWIG DOGWOOD
The use of boulders in a landscape adds interest year round, but in the winter months they really stand out. As the foliage of plants dies back, the boulders are front and center, showcasing their different shapes, colors and textures.
Other elements to think about are including lighting to illuminate the branching of deciduous trees and water elements, such as a bird bath or a water feature. Water features are great to run in the winter, as ice will develop over the water creating unique ice sculptures. Water is also great to introduce wildlife to your yard, such as birds and deer (depending on where you live).
To recap what makes a landscape stand out in the winter, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Keep your yard tidy and clean (messy=depressing)
- Incorporate plants such as Evergreens, Ornamental Grasses and shrubs with colored bark
- Include boulders in a landscape for year round interest
- Highlight trees with up lighting