Although we are fortunate here in the south to have very few bleak, sunless, winter days, there still are times when it’s easy to look out the window and yearn for the color and freshness of spring. The one good thing about brown grass, leafless trees, and sparse garden beds is that they provide the chance to really evaluate your landscape. This bareness can highlight the shape, balance and location of all the good (and sometimes not so good) elements of your yard. It’s easy to see trees and bushes that need to be pruned, and areas of the yard that look empty and uninspired. There are many varieties of native plants, trees, and bushes with brightly colored berries, evergreen leaves, or beautiful bark to consider adding to your landscape to improve its visual interest during the winter months. Many of them also have the added benefit of providing food and shelter for wildlife. In fact, inviting birds to become frequent visitors to your yard can help reduce the insect pest population in the spring and summer.
Winter also provides a chance to think about how you would like to enjoy your yard and to determine if it currently is fulfilling those wishes. It’s very possible that your needs or abilities have changed but your yard hasn’t kept up with those changes. Maybe physical or time limitations mean that this year you would like to plan for a more maintenance free landscape. Or life changes such as children, pets, or retirement have inspired you to create a more functional space for play or relaxation. Whatever changes the New Year is bringing to your life, winter is the perfect time to start thinking about what you want your outdoor space to become.
Like most things in life, the best landscape designs start with a plan. A home landscape planning guide can help you organize your ideas and get started implementing a new vision for your yard. The Alabama Cooperative Extension’s (ACES) Alabama Smart Yards (ANR-1359), available for free at the ACES website, is a great reference for turning your landscaping ideas into reality.