As we trudge through the end of winter and into spring, the landscape can look stark and barren. The deciduous plants have all dropped their leaves, the evergreens are looking dull, and the grasses and Hydrangeas we’ve left up for winter interest are starting to sag. Winter’s starkness can be a little too austere for many people, but for landscape architects and designers winter can offer a valued perspective.
When your landscape is down to its bare bones it reveals its problem areas and weaknesses, which makes winter an ideal time to identify these issues. It’s the perfect time to determine which areas need additional screening and where more winter interest is needed. By adding evergreen trees and shrubs we can not only give a garden structure that carries it through winter, but also screen undesirable views. The selection of ornamental and structurally interesting trees, shrubs, and perennials such as Washington Hawthorns, Hydrangeas, and ornamental grasses and perennials with ornamental seedheads, sustains you through the dreary days of winter when the pristine snow becomes gray and melts away.
Winter is also a good time to identify where water collects. Sitting water is especially problematic and dangerous if it’s collecting on your walks and terraces and becomes ice. Winter also wreaks havoc on your hardscapes. As the ground goes through freeze-thaw cycles the hardscapes will heave, leaving an uneven walking surface for your walks and terraces. As the ground thaws in spring some of this will settle again, but with this past winter we can expect a greater amount of heaving that may need to be re-leveled.
For nearly six months of the year we’re living with this austere landscape so it’s important to design for it and enjoy it. Hopefully if you look out your window right now you are not looking into your neighbor’s home, a mess of utility wires and poles, an alley, a busy street, etc…, as I think we can agree that these are less than ideal focal points. Our goal is to make your garden beautiful, and functional, all year long and make your garden the oasis it should be, no matter the season.