5 Winter Garden Tips for Southern Ontario

If you live in Southern Ontario, you’re probably not expecting an aesthetic garden landscape in the winter. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With some thoughtful planting and design choices, you can craft a landscape that looks beautiful all year round. Here are a few suggestions to create a stunning winter garden this year.

1. Know your planting zone

Southern Ontario’s climate is more varied than people realize, and there are several distinct climate zones found throughout the region. For example, Kitchener-Waterloo is in zone 5b, but if you are further south towards Brantford or Hamilton, you may be in zone 6b. The difference in zone has an impact on what you can grow in your garden year round, and will be a factor in selecting plantings that show well in your winter garden. All recommendations in this post are well-suited to Kitchener-Waterloo’s planting zone, but if you are choosing your own plantings, it is always good to double check.

2. Include conifer shrubs, trees and hedges

It goes without saying that evergreens are your friends in the winter months. Evergreen hedges include privet, yew and holly. If you choose holly for your hedge remember to plant both a male and female plant. The berries will only set on the female plants, but the males are needed for cross pollination. Interesting choices for small trees and shrubs include the Dwarf Mugo Pine, Dwarf Blue Spruce, and Emerald Green Arborvitae.

3. Consider dry plants and grasses

Dormant plants and grasses can add a whimsical feel to your winter garden. These grasses will need to grow during the summer, but will persist in their dry form through the winter months. Feather Reed Grass, Japanese Sedge, Northern Sea Oats and Blue Fescue are a few great grasses that you can consider including. Also some varieties of hydrangeas, such as smooth and panicle hydrangeas, sometimes keep their blooms in a dried form throughout the winter. Flowers that retain their dry blooms can be another great choice for your winter garden. It is important to note that other hydrangeas such as bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas likely require a mulch cover in the winter for protection and would not be a good choice for a winter garden.

4. Enjoy the beauty of bare branches

Trees that have dropped their leaves can still add a sense of wonder to your winter garden. Their exposed limbs have an almost architectural feel, so don’t be shy about including trees such as birch, Japanese maple, or any other of your favorite deciduous varieties in your winter garden. 

5.Rock & architectural elements for a 4-season atmosphere

There is more to an incredible winter landscape than just the plants. Pergolas, arches, rocks and pathways provide an essential shape and context for your winter plantings. For smaller gardens, one or two architectural elements is all you need to bring the wow-factor to a whole new level.


Let’s Create Your Winter Wonderland 

There are many elements that go into creating a garden that looks great year-round. If you’d like an expert perspective, the registered landscape architects at Wright Landscape Services are here to help. Book a free design consultation today to learn how we can craft a garden that looks amazing in winter, spring summer and fall!


Need inspiration?

When you start to think about designing the perfect yard, deck, patio or backyard oasis, it can be helpful to have some solid ideas of what you want to achieve. We can help with that.

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