Winter Gardening Tips: Make the Most of the Cold Months

Twig with ice on

For many people, winter is a tough season to handle.

Shorter days, freezing temperatures and snow tend to make life a little harder.

But it doesn’t have to be THAT bad…

Let’s be honest…

Everyone loves the idea of sipping hot chocolate by a warm fire and watching the snow fall, especially during the holidays, but the cold hard reality often involves salt, shovels and back pain.

To add insult to injury, winter tends to limit the time we can spend gardening outside.


If you plan ahead and are a little creative, winter can give your garden and home a breath of (chilly) fresh air.

Here are 10 winter gardening tips you can use to prepare for winter, reinvigorate your home and create a garden that’s beautiful year-round:

Tip #1: Choose Plants That Can Survive and Thrive All 12 Months of the Year

If you live in a colder climate, consider planting some small evergreen trees or tall grasses that can handle cold temperatures.

That way, even if your yard is covered in snow, there are still pops of color you can enjoy from the warmth of your home.

Nature tends to know best, and there are endless varieties of plants that are built for cold weather environments.

Tip #2: Evacuate Sensitive Plants (and Pots) Indoors.

Before the first frost, consider transferring some of your most special, sensitive plants to pots and bringing them inside.

Not only will they survive in the balmy 68-degree paradise also known as your living room, you will be able to enjoy looking at and caring for your favorite plants from the comfort of your own home.

In places where it gets really cold, consider moving your pots to a warm location.

Fluctuations in temperature and extreme cold wreak havoc on pottery. Terracotta is not meant for these conditions and should be brought indoors until Spring.

The combination of moisture and extreme cold can be deadly for pots. Once the moisture infiltrates the pot and freezes, cracking and full-on breaking may occur.

If your pots must stay outside, wrap them in bubble-wrap and burlap for added protection.

Plants covered in snow

Tip #3: Plant Perennials That Go With the Natural Flow of the Seasons.

Perennials, as opposed to annuals, are plants that come back year after year.

While they die off during the winter months, rest assured that they will, as if by magic, reappear during springtime.

While the colors tend to be less vivid, there are a range of beautiful perennials that are appropriate for any garden.

Tip#4: Cover Your Soil

Just like people, sensitive plants like to feel warm and cozy during winter months.

Adding a layer of mulch to the top of your soil can help perennials survive the harshest winters.

Wrapping trees and bushes with burlap helps protect against low temperatures.

Tip #5: Prune Away Vulnerable Branches

You can preemptively avoid broken branches by selectively pruning your trees and bushes before winter’s arrival.

Prune branches that may be vulnerable to breaking as a result of heavy snow load.

Branches with snow on

Tip #6: Plant Things That Aren’t Plants

No, of course I don’t mean fake plants! However, a garden can be much more than plants and dirt.

You can add texture, color and unique style with large stones, statues and found objects. Many of these items can stay outside all year and may even become more special and beautiful with time.

Japanese gardens often incorporate large, unique stones that mimic mountains. Italian gardens are full of “follies” that look like fantastical ruins.

Bad weather, rain and snow tend to add character to these objects and make them look like they have belonged there since the beginning of time.

Tip #7: Happy Holly-Days.

Plant hollies for a pop of color during the winter months.

Hollies are associated with the holidays for a reason; their bright red berries and intricate green leaves steal the show in a snowy white landscape.

You can even prune your hollies and make homemade wreaths and decorations.

Tip #8: Water Away!

Before the first frost, that is.

This is especially important for plants that aren’t fully established yet.

While a bit counter intuitive, winter is a dry month with relatively low humidity. Even though snow is, well, water, plants can dry out during the winter.

Cover your soil with mulch to retain moisture (see tip #4) and water regularly in the months leading up to the first frost to make sure your plants are established well ahead of the lean months of winter.

Birds fighting

Tip #9: Avoid Empty Nest Syndrome

Don’t forget about your feathered friends as you prepare your garden for winter.

Providing birds with sources of food and shelter throughout the winter months will keep your garden alive in a totally different way.

Birdsong will keep your garden teeming with life and joy throughout the year.

A beautiful, custom birdhouse could both bring life and style to your garden during the winter.

Tip #10: Read, Relax and Repeat.

While there are many ways to take care of your garden during winter, you will likely be spending less time outdoors.

That’s perfectly fine!

Use the “off-season” as a time to plan for next year’s garden, your dream garden.

Reflect on what you loved about last year’s garden and make some resolutions to make it even better. Read some gardening books while you sip on hot cocoa. There are plenty of gardening shows on TV that won’t feel the effects of the impending snow storm. Follow your favorite gardening blogs, live vicariously through those lucky souls who live in tropical paradises and take advantage of this downtime to plan ahead. Ask Santa Claus for your favorite gardening book this year.

There you have it! With these winter gardening tips, you can continue to enjoy your favorite hobby year-round and get through the cold, dark winter in one piece (along with your garden).

There are plenty of ways to keep the magic of your garden alive during winter and have it bursting with life come springtime.

Rather than lamenting the loss of the bright, sunny summer weather, think of all of the creative ways you can improve and enjoy your garden throughout the year.


Want some more tips for making the most of your garden in the winter? You can find more information here:

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