Plan for Winter Plantings

Part four in a series

It's hard to think about winter when our gardens are in full bloom and the vegetables are ripening on the vine! But we must keep winter in mind when we are planning our landscape. Afterall, we have to look at our landscape all year long, including winter. (Unless, of course, you are fortunate enough to be able to move to warmer climates in the winter or live in a climate that is tropical all year long!) But for most of us, we have to contend with four seasons and the life cycle of our landscape.

So when you are planning your landscape, keep in mind this life cycle of the plants you choose to add to your landscape design. Some plants, like flowering trees and shrubs look their best in Spring, others reach their full beauty in Summer, others still attain stunning and vibrant color in the Autumn, and yet, some evergreens look beautiful in the Winter, offset by a striking snow-covered landscape.

Add plants to your landscape that offer a variety of looks in different seasons. Don't plan your landscape with plants that all reach their peak of beauty at the same time. For example, a bed of perennials will provide a rainbow of color all summer long, but in the fall and winter, you will have to contend with a big empty space in your landscape. The same holds true for evergreens. While evergreens look beautiful in the winter-white of the colder months, they don't offer much in the summer.

So, try to choose plants for your landscape that have different focal points for different parts of the year. Look for plants that may keep red or orange berries through the winter months, or that keep a beautiful bud head through the winter for a variety of shapes. You can also postpone dead-heading some of your flowering plants until the end of winter so you have some visual interest all winter long.

Just don't be afraid to experiment. Remember, this is your landscape. Use your creativity! And if something you've tried doesn't work, try something else! You can always move a planting somewhere else and try something new.

Dean Novosat is an avid gardener and landscaper. He has transformed many boring yards into beautiful landscapes. He has several websites including and

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