When we think about our landscaping or garden our minds seem to follow the seasons starting with the excitement of spring. Often by the time late fall, and winter rolls around we think, okay, now we just have to wait until spring again, and give our landscape a pass for winter.
There is no real reason to settle for a lackluster look in our yards during the winter months. Many plants we use to create color or interest during the other seasons, also provide winter appeal. Setting aside gardens for the moment, we usually choose plants to solve a problem. That problem may be a colorless landscape, needing privacy from the neighbors, or seeing too much of the fence surrounding our back yard. There are dozens of plants to solve any of these as well as most landscape problem we want to conquer. With some forethought we can easily provide winter interest while at the same time hiding the neighbors or getting a little shade on the back patio.
Forever Goldy arborvitae can easily be used in place of the emerald green arborvitae to create a 10’ tall, yet narrow privacy screen. Now you have a bright yellow (contrasted with green) hedge to brighten a dreary winter day. There are also many smaller growing yellow conifers to mix with your green shrubs to add winter interest to your front yard. Gold Pacific juniper comes to mind.
Back to needing some shade to make the patio tolerable late afternoon. There are a host of small-growing trees that can be planted in the vicinity, so why not choose one that catches your eye from inside during the dormant months. Sango Kaku (coral bark) Japanese maple comes to mind as does Paperbark maple.
As you know textures add interest. Ornamental grasses not only provide a contrasting texture to most plants, they also provide movement. While standing brown in the winter they still draw the eye and add character.
Like colorful evergreen, hardscapes and boulders draw year-round attention. By default they add to the winter landscape, even when the plants surround them may be leafless, or cut back to the ground.
When choosing plants to solve a problem, or fill a space, think about all the seasons; we need not settle for a pretty yard nine months out of the year.