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Break Up The Snow With Winter Color

That title may seem impossible when you look out the window at a sea of white after a fresh snowfall. With a little planning, you can easily and inexpensively add some color to you landscape. Not a big splash of bright color like spring, mind you, but enough muted tones to break up the single color monotony. It may not happen this year, but surely next winter.

If you didn’t have an opportunity to plant winter-interest plants in the fall, plan now and plant in the spring. Before we get too much snow, research winter interest plants and take note of where these plants may look best. Take some photos of these locations and then revisit them again after more snow is on the ground. Is it still an attractive space for winter-interest plants?

There are a number of plants that can add winter color, even in deep snow. Ornamental grasses are used for this purpose most often. Proportionally sized clumps of ornamental grasses can break up large areas of snow. These easily maintained plants can also be used for accents year round.

Dead ornamental grass leaves and fuzzy seed heads provide the tan color as they poke up through the snow. These attractive seed heads blowing in the breeze give ornamental grasses their winter interest.

Brown ornamental grass leaves will have served their purpose as soon as the snow melts. So, they should be cut off at the base of the clump in early spring. You can use a string trimmer or an electric or manual hedge trimmer. In a pinch, I’ve even used loppers. New, green leaves will grow from the roots. In fall, these tall, leaf-like blades will turn tan again.

Witch hazel is a shrub that may be one of several shapes. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8, which covers most of the east coast from northern Maine to the Carolinas. Witch hazel is a late bloomer that flowers from October to December. Its yellow flowers break up nicely the expanse of white snow or shades of gray that envelope our landscapes in late fall and early winter.

Dogwoods’ red branches can also break up winter monotony. However, be careful of what dogwood variety you buy. Some, like eastern dogwood (Cornus florida), are very attractive to insects and disease.

Winter doesn’t have to be endless weeks of white and gray monotones. However, adding color may take a little creativity. Making winter color plants blend in with the overall landscape design year round is a bit more challenging than simply planting predictable spring flowers. Remember, we have landscape designers who can help you out if you want a word of advice from a pro, or even a complete design.

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