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6 Winter landscape design tips for a beautiful Maryland winter back yard

Winter, spring, summer, or fall -- you want an impressive landscape no matter what the season. But every time the Maryland winter rolls through, you feel as though your landscape becomes dull and lackluster. A boring landscape, coupled with the gray skies and the chilly weather seems to make the season feel as though it’s trudging along slower than ever. You want to liven things up!

The biggest key to some of the beautiful winter landscape design ideas comes down to choosing the right winter landscaping plants, within a thoughtful design. This will ensure that your landscape is anything but boring.

1. Incorporate needled evergreens for year-round greenery

Valued for their year-round beauty, needled evergreens can add both texture and color to a drab winter landscape. Needled evergreens can have blue, green, or even yellow needles that can add a lot of interest.

The Eastern White Pine, for example, is a magnificent tree with beautiful bright green needles. While some consider it messy in terms of dropping needles or its cones, it can make a big statement in a bleak winter landscape. Spruce and fir trees, with their shorter needles, are another attractive option blending different shades of greens and even blue tones.

There are also needled evergreen shrub options you might consider as well. Some types of arborvitae, yews, and cypress are also good options. Then there are also dwarf versions of needled trees which can offer some excellent vertical, ornamental accents. Some options include the dwarf pines, spruces, hemlocks, and cypresses.

2. Don’t forget about broadleaf evergreen varieties

While evergreens are often thought of in terms of the needle-bearing varieties, evergreen shrubs also include broadleaf varieties like boxwoods, hollies, some forms of laurels, and rhododendrons. These plants have year-round lush greenery and also bloom in other parts of the year, giving them a wide variety of interest and appeal, regardless of the season.

There are also some great broadleaf tree varieties of hollies and Southern Magnolia, which hold their leaves in the winter. There are many colors, and textures, as well as varying shades of green that can add a lot of interest in the winter and throughout the remainder of the year.

3. Get the best of both worlds with semi-evergreens

Plants that briefly shed their foliage in winter but rejuvenate quickly, or those that only shed some of their foliage, are sometimes referred to as semi-evergreen. For instance, Nandina varieties are able to retain a good fraction of their leaves or even hold their flowers later and are therefore considered semi-evergreen. They can also turn colors. The Blush Pink Nandina, for instance, turns pink, or even red, during colder months, adding a pop of color that looks beautiful as an accent to your winter landscape design.

Some Viburnum varieties, such as Leatherleaf, are also semi-evergreen. This shrub has a blue-green appearance and is coarsely textured, hence its name. There are also some species of Azalea that are semi-evergreen.

4. Plants with fruit add color

Some winter landscaping plants produce berries and other fruit that hangs on, even in the winter. Fruit can be anywhere from oranges to yellows or reds. One such option is the flowering crabapple trees such as Harvest Gold Crabapple. What makes this particular tree uniquely beautiful is the fact that it produces attractive yellow fruit that can really brighten up a landscape.

Varieties of holly, such as Viburnum and Coral Berry, also make nice, colorful options. Winterberry hollies, which are in the shrub category, lose their leaves but retain their berries, making for a beautiful winter display, especially against the backdrop of needled evergreens or atop snow cover. In addition, Winter King Hawthorn, which is a small tree that produces bright red berries, is another great choice, and thrive in Maryland.

5. Beautiful bark adds texture

The bark or even “bark habits” on certain trees can add some appeal to your winter landscape, as well. Plants with exfoliating bark, such as the Paperbark Maple, create a unique look. As the cinnamon-colored bark on this tree begins to peel, it reveals new bark underneath, creating a lot of visual interest.

6. Add some ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses can be another valuable addition to your winter landscape by adding texture and even some color. Shades of bronze, gold, russet, and tan can liven up your landscape when incorporated throughout the space. When planted in close proximity to evergreens, ornamental grasses can add some nice contrast.

The look of tall grasses rustling in the winter breeze can also add some active interest and sound to an otherwise quiet landscape. However, be aware that too much wind can cause them to break off and blow around. Choosing to leave ornamental grasses up over winter may mean a little bit of extra clean-up come spring (and we can help with that!).

Choose a company that values landscape design for all the seasons

An interesting winter landscape doesn’t happen by chance. It’s thanks to the knowledge and skill of a landscape design professional who knows a lot about winter landscape plants and their best placement.

A thoughtful approach to landscaping means thinking about what your landscape is going to look like all year round, not just during the blooming season. Achieving this comes down to the landscape company that you choose.

If you’re looking for a Maryland landscaping company that will help you with winter landscape ideas, then we are here to help. There is absolutely no reason a winter landscape has to be boring! By working together on a great design, you can have an appealing landscape all year long.

If you’re ready to learn about our landscape design services in Towson, Hunt Valley, Timonium, Bel Air and all other parts of Baltimore and Harford Counties, and the greater Maryland area, contact us at Rooted In Nature at 443-846-0199 or

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