Maintain a beautiful winter garden. (photo:

Who says you have to stop gardening when winter arrives? My family enjoys gardening all year long. By incorporating winter-friendly plants into the garden, my landscape stays equally as lush and beautiful from season to season. If you don’t think you can handle a full winter garden, container gardening may satisfy the itch to garden on a smaller scale. Before tackling your winter garden, it’s important to learn what plants are frost-tolerant and will survive cooler temperatures.

Plant Flowers That Bloom in Late Winter

Figuring out which plants are best for winter gardens starts by looking at their hardiness rating. You’ll typically find this number on the plant tag: The lower the number of the hardiness zone, the better equipped the plant is to resist the cold. Flowering hellebores, pieris japonica, buttercup winter hazel, and snowdrops typically bloom in late winter between December and mid-March. For earlier winter blooms, try a low-growing plant like Erica carnea. This urn-shaped plant with pink and purple flowers is among the earliest bloomers, often poking out before the snow even arrives.

Create a Container Garden for Winter-Friendly Plants

Winter container gardens help keep your home filled with color and life throughout the cold season. When creating your container garden, pay close attention to soil and plant selection. Plants typically grow more slowly in the winter, so it’s best to avoid heavy soils containing moisture-retention granules. Instead, use a quality soilless mix in your container. Play with different winter-hardy plants to create a blend of vibrant colors. For example, HGTV suggests combining red-twig dogwood with Rheingold arborvitae, blue rug juniper, and blue star juniper to create a striking display. To help the red stems of the dogwood maintain their brilliant hue, prune back one-third of the older canes each year.

Attract Wildlife to Your Backyard

Create a safe haven in your backyard for birds and other critters to enjoy when temperatures start to drop. Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers in the fall to give your feathered friends a place to escape the harsh cold. By planting in the right place, you can also save energy in your home by blocking winter winds. Also consider setting up bird feeders and bird baths to give local birds a safe place to eat and drink. To provide water, use a suspended birdbath, a dripping hose with a dish placed underneath, or a small pool set into the ground.

Incorporate Plenty of Lighting

Winter can be dark and drab, but with the proper light sources, you can brighten up your landscape for a more welcoming feel. During the winter, use exterior holiday lighting to bring new life to your backyard. LED string lights will save energy while creating a soft glow around your winter garden. If you don’t already have one, a fire pit can be used all year round for warmth and light. Set up a few chairs, grab a warm throw blanket and a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy the ambience.