Once winter settles in and the garden is put to bed, the first reaction is to sit back and relax. There are no tasks outdoors that need to be fit into your busy schedule. Nothing is ripe and needs to be picked, there are no weeds to pull and the grass doesn’t need mowing. Your garden supplies are put away in the shed or garage.
A few days later, gardeners are suffering from withdrawal. They miss their flowers, being outdoors and the feel of soil in their hands. They miss eating food out of the garden. They begin to think about how long it will be before the snow melts and the spring bulbs start to poke through.
They start thinking about planting the garden and maybe trying some heirloom or organic seed varieties, as well as the newest hybrids. It’s a reality check! They will be back to the thick of things soon enough, but what to do in the meantime.
10 Ways to Enjoy Your Garden in the Winter
Winter is a time to relax, still use your garden and maybe get a few things done in preparation for spring. Here are 10 great ideas to still enjoy your garden in the winter, including:
1.Decorate Your Entries with Evergreens — It can be drab outdoors when all the plants and the lawn are dormant. There is very little color, and it can be a bit depressing. Dress up your entries with lots of mixed evergreens and some holly berries. These cuttings will stay green as long as the temperature stays below freezing.
Add a spray of antidesiccant for added protection. The spray can be found in the garden supplies aisle. Now, the first thing you see when you leave your home and when you return is a bouquet of greens.
2. Add a Heater to Your Birdbath — You will attract a lot of birds to drink and bathe in your birdbath all winter if you add a heater to eliminate ice. There are very few options for birds during the winter months so they will be frequent visitors to your birdbath if you add a heater.
3. Keep Your Birdfeeders Full — This is the power duo along with the heated birdbath to attract the most birds to your garden. Once the snow has covered the area, there is less food available for the birds to forage.
Also, winter storms and high winds can decrease a bird’s ability to find enough food. They need food to help them stay warm in the severe weather. While you watch them from inside, you will know that you are helping them to survive in the extreme weather of winter.
4. Start a New Hobby — Since you have the birds coming to your garden, start keeping track of the different types of birds and the date seen. If you aren’t familiar with some of the birds, purchase a good bird guide to help you identify them.
Another great hobby for winter is photography. Photograph the birds for your records or just for fun. Winter is a great time for photography. The trees and dried flowers are silhouetted against the white snow for some very artful and truly beautiful photographs.
5. Plant Evergreens and Shrubs with Winter Interest — This requires advanced planning, but adding evergreens to your landscape will provide a pop of color in the winter. Another good choice for winter interest is plants that stand out without their leaves. Bright-colored bark like red dogwood or a Harry Lauder Walking Stick with its curly branches are good examples.
Trees with shaggy bark have winter interest. Witch Hazel will bloom in the winter. Add some shrubs or trees that hold onto their berries into winter. They add interest and color in the winter garden and usually will attract birds to feed on the berries.
6. Make Some Luminaries — Luminaries are traditionally made from paper lunch-sized bags weighted with a little sand or gravel and that have a small candle inside. Thought to have originated in New Mexico, luminaries are now popular everywhere and have become associated with Christmas. Whole neighborhoods cooperate to line their streets with them.
A new take on the paper luminaries is the ice luminary. The ice is the substitute for a bag. If you live in the north where the temperature will be consistently below freezing, this is a magical substitute. Use the luminaries to celebrate the holidays, winter birthdays or Valentine’s day.
7. Reorganize Your Garden Equipment — If you need to do something more directly related to gardening, winter is a great time to clean up and reorganize your gardening tools. Give everything a good cleaning and sharpen all the blades. A protective coat of oil will prevent rust while tools are out of use. If you find tools that are broken or worn out, place an order for replacement garden supplies.
8. Use Patio Heat Lamps — If you have ever eaten a meal outdoors in winter, it can be uncomfortable in the cold. Add an outdoor patio heat lamp and it’s a game changer!
These lamps run on propane and throw off enough heat to keep you and your guests comfortable outdoors in the winter, while you make plans for your garden in the spring.
9. Plan Your Garden — The new seed and plant catalogs come out each year at the end of December or the first week of January. Start to plan what you want for your garden this coming summer.
Will your vegetable garden stay the same or do you want to increase or decrease the size? What flowers and perennials do you want to grow? Do you want to try more heirloom varieties — or maybe organic seeds will start you off to growing organically?
We all have our favorite must-have seeds and plant varieties, but every year new seeds and plant varieties become available. Maybe this is the year you start seeds indoors with a seed starter kit.
10. Do Some Pruning — There are some plants, like fruit trees, that need to be pruned when they are dormant. While you are out, check all your plants to see if they need attention. Prune any broken branches.
Look for any damage from rabbits or deer and adjust any protective materials as needed. Vines that are covered with leaves in the summer are easier to shape and prune in the winter.
Winter is here and the garden is covered in snow and your garden lies dormant. Don’t despair because, with a little effort, you can use these creative ways to fill your time this winter and still enjoy your garden.