By Jocelyn Bonesteel
Once the coziness of Christmas is over, all the lights come down, and decorations are put away, winter landscapes can look a little bare. The holidays filled every inch of the house and yard, and now the open spots and negative space are all homeowners can see. With the dreariness of winter upon us, now is the time to see what your landscape is missing!
Winter landscapes are often difficult for homeowners to think about and plan for. Spring, summer, and even fall are easier since customers can actively shop in those seasons, and many people forget about winter interest when enthralled by summer blooms and the warmth of sunshine. However, plants with winter interest are abundant in garden centers, and landscapers are adept at using both plants and hardgoods for a cold season flourish.
Stone products, either natural or man-made, help break up large, open swaths in the landscape, creating lines for the eye to follow even when the garden beds are bare. They help maintain the visual of the landscape, keeping the flow and aesthetic throughout the winter months.
Flagstone: Flagstones are a free form product, shaped by nature and generally available in shades of grey and brown. Larger pieces set in a hillside can be used as stair treads, while smaller pieces make a walkway feel natural and integrated to the existing land.
Bricks: Bricks, formal in appearance, are man-made, offer a more finished edge, and fit together effortlessly. Offered in many different styles and colors, specific designs can be created to fit the uniqueness of each homeowner and aesthetic of their landscape.
Boulders: Boulders are used in many landscapes as a natural transition, retaining wall, seating, or accent pieces. Like flagstone, they are shaped by the ground they are pulled from and add texture that is different from both plants and wood products. These boulders elevate the summer landscapes and can create a whole new visual as the focal pieces in a winter landscape.
Rocks: Rock also offers a bold texture and can be used either instead of bricks in a walkway or mulch around plants. With a color palette as broad as flower blooms and an extensive size range, rocks offer visual and textural appeal in the places used most.
Wood products offer a unique combination of natural product with their well-loved flaws and grounded formal look in their weight and physical size.
Pergolas & Pavilions: Flat topped and slated pergolas provide light coverage, while covered, A-framed pavilions provide full shelter in inclement conditions. Both offer four full seasons of usage, allowing homeowners not only an additional visual in their landscape but a method in which to enjoy their winter landscapes. Completely customizable, these wood structures are solid and firm, and the range of stains and colorings still allow for its natural grains to shine through. This unique combination means pergolas and pavilions fit into any landscape aesthetic: formal, natural, large, or small.
Fencing: Fencing is available in many materials, but most common is wood. Fences can be used either as a physical or visual barrier: fully enclosing an area, a perimeter fence tells the eye where to stop, yet a shorter one keeps animals on their respective sides and becomes part of the landscape. With endless customizable designs, fences can elevate a winter landscape instead of merely existing out of necessity.
Custom Planters: Custom planters and raised garden beds not only benefit the overall health of plants, but also benefit the landscape year-round. Adding a touch of personability, customization makes sure planters and raised beds fit appropriately in each landscape. Ill-fitting items can have more than zero impact: they can have a negative impact and make a yard, especially in the winter, dreary and uninviting.
Fireplaces, Firepits, & Fire Bowls: Fire elements are one of the easiest ways to physically engage with a winter landscape. From the heat produced, homeowners can be outside year-round, and step out from behind the window. A fire element can fit in any size landscape, with options as large as a full-fledged fireplace to a more family-friendly firepit or fire bowl. These not only add more dimension and an outdoor room-like quality to a winter landscape, but they also allow families to utilize their outdoor spaces during the colder months.
Outdoor Kitchens & Grills: Outdoor kitchens and grilling areas are another great way to enjoy the space homeowners have worked so hard to perfect. Generally covered, a full outdoor kitchen can include grills, multiple prep spaces, a fridge and/or bar, dining area, and even specialty pizza ovens. Mixing wood structures like pergolas and pavilions with natural stones and bricks, the addition of high-end grills and stainless-steel appliances elevates these outdoor spaces to ones families not only can enjoy, but will want to regardless of the temperature.