Winter Interest Plants
Invest in your winter landscape this coming spring by planting shrubs that bring forth blooms, berries, and color in winter. Gardeners love beautyberry and Nandina domestica for their brightly colored berries that persist into winter. Red twig dogwood's bright limbs delight all winter long, while fringe flower's late-winter blossoms bring life to your landscaping.
Related: How to Help Your Houseplants Survive the Winter
After the holidays, use your lighting to highlight hardscape structures and create winter focal points. A lonely patio table or empty arbor draped with hanging lanterns can cast a warm glow over an otherwise dark and dreary corner of the yard.
The most cold-hardy topiaries are the ones that aren't made of living plants. Create your own faux version with grapevine balls or fake trees. When festooned with string lights (even after the holidays), the like-real accent will brighten your winter porch. Easily constructed, DIY topiaries can be stored away during warmer months and taken out again in time for the next year’s first frost.
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Hang a collection of grapevine wreaths punctuated with bright berries that you can cut from your yard or buy from the florist or craft store. The pop of color will dress up the porch and, if you use genuine berries, provide a smorgasbord for the birds.
String lights don’t have to be just for the holidays. You can use them in imaginative ways all year long to create an upbeat atmosphere. Suspend them from your trees, or place them around the porch (set in a decorative glass lantern, for instance) to fend off winter’s bleakness.
Related: 7 Ways to Transform String Lights from Holiday to Every Day
Winter Bird Feeder Garlands
Ice luminaries can bring ethereal radiance to even the most desolate winter night. For a glow that won't go out, skip the candles and use battery-operated tea lights or LEDs instead. To create an artful orb of ice, you can employ myriad methods and molds. Ice buckets, balloons, and even Bundt pans work well.
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Brightly Colored Birdhouses
A well-placed, cheerily appointed birdhouse (or feeder) distracts from the lifeless landscaping of winter. While bright paint gives the eye much-needed relief from an otherwise gray winter wonderland, the functional yard accent provides refuge and refreshment to winged wildlife.
Here's a simple decorating idea: Construct a set of DIY snowflakes out of traditional fence pickets to stake in your yard until long after the holidays have passed. They’re easy and inexpensive, and they make your yard look its wintry best, even if there's no snow in the forecast.
Related: 8 Wise Ways to Winter-Proof Your Home for Practically Nothing
You probably know that, come winter, it's important to mulch flower and tree beds in order to protect sensitive plant roots. Add yet another layer of protection against the cold—as well as a decorative touch—by topping your beds with pinecones. The cones give great texture to the yard, and their acidity levels benefit plants like hydrangeas and blueberries.
Colored Ice Balls
Add a little variety to winter's gray palette with colored ice balls. This kid-friendly project can be accomplished by funneling food coloring and water into balloons and then leaving the filled balloons outside overnight to freeze. Once the water has frozen, cut the balloons away from the ice, and you'll have a set of colorful, glistening decorations to display.
Related: 10 Surprising Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Ice and Snow
Winter is the perfect time to take on this quick and easy painting project: Give your mailbox a makeover with a fresh coat of brightly colored paint. Spray paint won't adhere to a cold surface, so be sure to bring the mailbox indoors to a warm and well-ventilated garage or workshop to paint.
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