As the gray of our Northern Michigan winter sets in, you might be wishing you could see your deep green grass and brightly colored flowers. The heavy blanket of white (sometimes gray) snow, makes it impossible for plantings to bloom throughout the winter months, so how do you create some interest and add some color?

While growing flowers outdoors isn’t an option in our winter season, there are several ways your landscape can bring you joy during the coldest months of the year. Let’s explore planting options that provide beautiful winter interest.

Try Texture

When we think of interesting landscapes, the first feature that comes to mind is usually color. While color certainly is important, texture makes just as much of an impact on a landscape. Texture adds both variety and interest and adds to the mood of your landscape.

One great way to incorporate texture is by selecting trees with interesting bark. One of our favorites is Paper Bark Birch trees. Their bark gives a peeling-type appearance, offering different textures and colors. The traditional white color of the birch is given variety with the unique bark texture and it looks beautiful with the white snow.

paper bark birch tree trunk

Another great option for adding texture to your landscape is including ornamental grasses. These grasses still turn a shade of brown in the winter months, but many homeowners choose to leave them up for interest. Ornamental grasses come in a huge amount of varieties, some even have seed heads or ‘flowering-type’ heads that look beautiful blowing in the wind.

Finally, does your landscape include hydrangeas? Hydrangeas are a very popular choice as they flourish in our sandy northern Michigan soil. One way to add textural interest is to simply leave the spent blooms up throughout the winter. Even though they turn to a shade of brown, their contrast against the snow is beautiful.

ornamental grasses and hydrangea in winter

Go for Color

While most trees lose their color for the winter months, evergreens stand out from the rest with their beautiful shades of green. Evergreens come in thousands of varieties, so it doesn’t mean you need to have trees planted that look like Christmas trees throughout your property. Some of our favorite varieties include weeping evergreens, which provide color and texture interest throughout the winter months. We love evergreen trees so much, we wrote an entire blog about them! Learn if an evergreen tree or shrub might be the right fit for your property.

evergreen tree and red twig dogwood

Another choice for color that thrives in Northern Michigan is the Red Twig Dogwood plant. As their name suggests, their branches are a shade of bright red. During the summer months, leaves hide their twigs and branches, but as fall passes, their beautiful red hue is visible. These plants are native to Northern Michigan as well, making them an excellent choice.

Include Berry Producers

Another way to add color and interest to your landscape is to select plantings that produce berries. Viburnum, Winterberry, and Holly can be great choices as they all produce beautiful bright red berries. Be sure to inquire with your landscape contractor or garden expert that the variety you selected with hold its’ berries through the winter, as some drop the berries along with their leaves in the fall.

berries on branches in winter

Plant Early Bloomers

Although including plants like crocus, tulips, and daffodils won’t do much to add to your winter landscape, they do bloom unusually early in Northern Michigan. We have frequently seen crocus and tulips popping up through the snow in Traverse City! These plants are a great sign that Spring is on its’ way.

crocus and tulips

Selecting Plantings to Provide Winter Interest

When planting your gardens and planning your landscape in the spring and summer, it is important to consider the phenomenon that is the Northern Michigan winter season. Since we tend to have snow ranging from September to May at times, it is important to remember to include elements in your landscape that can peak through the snow and look beautiful in the winter. Seeing a bit of green or red can really brighten up the dreary winter season. Curious what plantings do well in the Fall and Spring, check out our article featuring suggestions for year-round color.

Looking for more ideas? Try adding a beautiful winter container arrangement too!

Need help selecting plants that will provide winter interest? Contact our team of experts to help design your landscape beds for the winter months too!

Get started today with a consultation!

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