Once the safety pool cover is on the pool and the removable pool fence is safely stowed away, your backyard may look different than it did during the height of swimming pool season. The leaves on the trees and blooms on the plants are gone—and the yard may seem vast and even a bit desolate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t craft a unique, beautiful winter landscape. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

Make sure your leafless trees have interesting textures in their branches and bark—such as dogwoods and birch trees. This will add some visual interest to the yard. Trees and shrubs that have berries can add a touch of color. Speaking of color, evergreen trees can also add some brightness to the yard. They come many varieties and colors, such as a blue spruce, Gold Thread false cypress, or a Western red cedar. 

Your summer pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes can be used to hold evergreen winter accents such as holly and rhododendron. Lenten rose is a gorgeous flowering perennial that starts blooming in January and continues to do so through March. It comes in varieties such as Amber Gem, a golden Lenten rose with magenta accents; Amethyst Gem, which boasts cherry hues; and Onyx Odyssey, a rich black color. Add some twigs to accent their many colors and textures. Don’t forget to water them during dry periods! 

You may also want to consider including birds in your backyard winter landscape plans. While their summer activities are masked due to the leafy trees and lush plants, the bare landscape provides plenty of opportunities to watch their antics. There are a few things you can do to encourage them to frequent your backyard. First and foremost, put up a bird feeder and a bird bath with a warmer. Be sure to place some twigs over the dish so birds can drink, but not be able to bathe— as that could pose a danger to them. Keep some dormant perennials such as coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and ornamental grasses over the winter. The birds will scratch for these seeds. 

Winter is also an opportune time to add items such as a trellis, bench, or garden sculpture. Install some low-voltage or LED lighting that will not only accent your landscape, but allow you to relax in your hot tub, watch those birds, or view additional forms on wildlife in their natural habitat. Place some pavers on the walkways, as they thaw quickly when the temperatures fall below freezing. A heating element can also be placed on your walkways to keep them at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees, which will allow them to remain thawed, so people can walk safely on them. For stone accents, source them locally when possible. If they come from a location where the weather is similar, they are more likely to last throughout the winter. 

There is no reason why you can’t enjoy your backyard during the winter months. Each season brings joy in its own way, and following these suggestions will fill your backyard with beauty and life!