Winter Gardening Ideas
Winter gardening is a great way to create interest in your yard for those long and cold winter months. It can be much nicer to look out your window on a cold winter day from the comfort of your warm home and see lots of activity in the garden rather than a vast white pile of snow.
One great way to achieve this, is by attracting birds to backyard winter gardens (or whichever yard you can see well from your home) to create some activity to watch as well as plant native plants that retain some colour or texture during the winter months. Evergreen shrubs and trees help to break up the white for example.
Tall grasses have become popular for gardening as once established they will take over a corner or part of the yard you do not want to have to maintain. They blow in the wind during the summer months and create interest in the yard, but they also look great in the winter above the snow.
Birds will perch on them and pick at them, and this creates a hiding spot for them when they come to visit your yard.
Shrubs with berries are another great plant that will carry on into the winter months and will provide frozen little treats for birds and other critters.
The best way to create a winter garden is to think about it before the snow flies. Think about which window you tend to look out into the yard with. If every winter you find it boring, then consider adding a few tall grasses this year, a bird feeder, and if you can afford the extra cost, a bird bath with a small heater that keeps the bath ice free. Plan your spring and summer garden for winter as well.
You can have garden planters with sprays of spruce or pine branches, and you can purchase many berry branches in garden centers that sell stock for winter gardening if you don’t have any. By creating some interest in your yard and activity from birds, you will have created a winter garden to help break up that boring white.
If you live in an area with a long winter, then having something to look at every day can make it a little less dreary. How can you resist seeing a blue jay or red cardinal on your suet feeder or getting a berry out of the bushes, or maybe hanging around the bird bath for a drink.
Once they have discovered your yard, they will return every day. This keeps the yard active and fun to watch.
Bird feeders that attach with suction cups to a fixed window have become more popular as well. I always stayed away from these for fear the bird would fly into the window, but they don’t seem to do that.
The best part about one of these styles of feeders is that you get to see the birds up close. Keep it filled with good premium bird feed for wild birds. This is the part it is worth spending a bit more on. The cheaper foods have a lot more filler in that the birds don’t like, and all that will happen is the waste or uneaten food will build up in the feeder or the ground around it. So, pay the extra money for good wild bird seed with very little filler. The much larger seeds in the food the bigger the birds you will attract.
Another good way to attract birds to backyard winter gardens is to get large pine cones and attach a wire or string to the top of them to hang in the tree. Take peanut butter and smear it on the pine cone and roll in some bird seed. These make great treats for the birds, especially if you have many trees in your yard.
Bird Bath – You can check with some garden centers or online, but you can get a small heater that will stop the bird bath or other container from freezing. They use these in ponds and backyard water features as well. By keeping the bird bath free of ice, will help the birds to find water to drink and they will stay in your yard.
If birds can find food, water and places to perch or hide, such as tall grasses, shrubs or trees, they will hang out for the winter with you.
Hanging Wreaths for the winter season also brightens up the winter garden. You can hang them on your door, or they work especially well on a garden bench back. You could keep it simple such as a pine cone wreath or a bow wreath. It doesn’t have to be just for the holidays, you could even make a bird feeder wreath with the pine cones.
Adding interesting bows and berry sticks to your patio or yard planters, and a few bird feeders with different foods such as suet, seeds and peanut butter cones, will bring that winter blanket to life.
Creating a garden for all the seasons is a great way to add interest and change to your view. As you plan and plant for each season, try and keep the winter gardening in mind too. Place any ground hooks or move planters in the fall before the snow flies, so that it is just a matter of bundling up and adding all your items to the winter garden theme.
Nothing worse than trying to install a free standing bird feeder with the feet and hooks that are supposed to go into the ground once the frost and snow arrive. So, try and think ahead, at least by September as to what you would like to see in your backyard winter garden this year.
As I remove items from my garden to put away for the summer and fall season, I then take out things for the next winter gardening season. I include winter into the garden.
Grasses – These plants are great for all seasons, but when the fall comes and the frost shows up they will go brown. Instead of cutting them back, try leaving them for the winter. If they are the decorative type with heathery heads on them, such as Maiden grass they will look great above the snow in the winter. You can always cut them back in the spring and they will grow once again. They are a great way to add interest to a corner or part of your yard you just don’t want to be cutting anymore.
Start to check the garden centers in September for fall decorating, but you will also find many winter gardening ideas that you should begin now. You will be glad you got the bird feeders set up, the winter containers with interesting branches set out. Once that snow starts flying, your once quiet desolate winter yard with come to life with some color and activity and birds chirping. This makes winter gardening totally worthwhile. Enjoy!