Winter can be a pretty drab time of year in the outdoor world. Leaves fall off the trees, most of the flowers stop blooming, and the yard often looks brown and dead.

It doesn't have to be like that, though. With the right combination of plants, hardscaping, and lights you can have a vibrant yard with fantastic curb-appeal all year-round.

Whether you're looking ahead to next year or want to add winter interest right now, keep reading for tips on how to make your yard look good in the winter months.

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Things To Plant Next Year

If you want your landscape beds to look good in the winter, the plants you're growing play a large role. It's a little late this year to plant new trees (that should be done in the early fall), but you can start planning ahead for next year. Here are several types of plants that stay interesting in a winter garden:

  • Plants with berries that stay through fall and winter, like chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia, zones 4-9), Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria, zones 7-10), and Nellie R. Stevens hollies (Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens', zones 6-9)
  • Evergreen plants like barberry (hardiness varies by cultivar), and berry-producing junipers like eastern redcedar juniper (Juniperus virginiana, zones 2-9).
  • Winter-blooming shrubs like leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, zones 6-9), Jacqueline Postill daphne (Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill', zones 7-9), and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum, zones 5-10).
  • Plants with interesting seed heads, like coneflowers, sedum, alliums, and ornamental grasses.

Things To Plant This Year

There are a few flowers you can plant right now to add color in your winter landscape. Cool-weather annuals like pansies, violas, dianthus, alyssum, and primrose are a great place to start. These plants will bloom throughout the winter and on into spring. Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) are spring-blooming bulbs that can start flowering in December or January for Texas gardeners.

Some of these plants (like dianthus and primrose) might stop blooming if the temperature dips below 32 degrees. You can get around this by planting them in containers and bringing them inside if there's a frost in the forecast.

Keep Hardscape Interesting

Hardscaping elements are all the parts of the landscape that aren't plants. It includes things like fences, a trellis, benches, an arbor, garden sculptures, colorful yard art, and paving stones. These sorts of things give your garden structure that's still visible even when the leaves are gone and bedding plants go dormant.

You can also use containers that were part of the summer landscape to help provide winter interest. After the summer annuals in the containers die, clean the containers out and fill them with evergreen boughs, interesting twigs, Christmas lights, or anything else you want to use to add color.

Add Lights

Putting in lights literally brightens up the winter landscape. You can use holiday lights, of course, but if you also want something that gives more year-round interest consider landscape lights. If you use landscape lights, place them to highlight interesting landscape plants or light a path to your door.

Installing a fire pit is another way to brighten up the winter landscape. It also adds warmth for the evenings when it's nice enough to spend some time outside in your winter garden. Just make sure zoning in your area permits fire pits before you install one.

With these tips, you'll be able to set up a yard that looks great in the winter as well as during the warmer months of the year. For more tips on lawn and garden care, as well as information about the tools to maintain your yard, check out the other articles on our blog.