How to - Techniques

Tips for enhancing a winter garden

A landscape architect explains how to make a garden exciting in all four seasons

Well-made landscapes are founded on sound design principles, solid construction techniques and appropriate plant selections. This carries it through the four seasons. But well-loved gardens must also reflect the needs and interests of the gardener. That approach has guided Neil Pike for 30 successful years as a landscape architect and contractor, and was the inspiration for his own garden renovation a few years ago.

Here are Pike's tips for extending the interest of your garden throughout the winter.

• Emphasize garden lines by edging beds and borders in autumn before the ground freezes.

• Plant evergreen hedges (at least 60 centimetres tall to stand above snow) such as yew, boxwood and cedar to define boundaries.

• Select tall, coniferous shrubs (pyramidal cedar, dwarf Alberta spruce, upright junipers) to frame views and anchor corners.

• Include ornamental woody plants with attractive form, bark and fruit to provide winter interest: weeping cherry, star magnolia, birch, red- and yellow-bark dogwoods, PeeGee and climbing hydrangeas, dwarf European cranberry, roses with hips, crabapple.

• Leave some upright perennials standing through the winter: showy stonecrop, coneflower, clematis seed heads and ornamental grasses.

• Add enhancing hardscape elements such as fence finials, arbours, trellises, obelisks, large stepping stones.

• Create a seating arrangement—a bench or table and chairs—made from all-weather materials.

• Install outdoor lighting.

• Use large accent features—landscape boulders, bird baths, fountains, statuary and stone containers filled with winter boughs and branches


Read more in How to and Techniques

  • Page 1: Let the garden meet your needs

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