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popular plant options for exteriors in winter

Plant Ideas for Winning Winter Landscapes

Posted on 25-01-2019

With winter in full swing, it can be easy to allow your business exterior upkeep to fall to the wayside as summer blooms wither under icy temperatures and blankets of snow. However, winter’s chill shouldn’t mean you put a freeze on maintaining professional appearances—a pleasing landscape can set your business apart from the competition and leave potential clients with a good first impression. To help you spruce up dull winter exteriors, we’ve compiled a list of popular plants and ideas that are guaranteed to wow all through the cold season.

Tall Grasses

While snowfall undoubtedly has its charm, it can take a hard hit on the aesthetic potential of plant life. Some low growing plants, for instance, are easily buried under the lightest of snow coverage. Compromised visibility may seem to rule out most delicate-stemmed choices in winter, but some perennial grasses remain viable options. Ornamental grasses, in particular, can be an excellent accent to any landscape. When strategically grouped, they can provide the emptiest space with a full, lush appearance. A few popular varieties of winter ornamental grasses include:

  • Plume grass (Erianthus ravennae): towering above most snow lines, these grasses grow up to 10 feet and are known to be more robust than other forms of pampas grass. With long, silvery plumes, they flower and flourish despite the cold.
  • Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis): maturing at three feet, these low maintenance grasses remain an appealing, vibrant green throughout the year.
  • Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa): growing up to four feet, these green grasses darken to deep, warm tans in winter. A further selling point is their ability to attract songbirds, livening up the dullest terrain.

Striking Shrubs

Shrubbery may not sound as glamorous as some options, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the red twig dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’). These shrubs promise to provide a welcome burst of colour. With little upkeep, red twig dogwoods can easily sprout to eight feet. Although these deciduous plants lose their leaves as temperatures plummet, this characteristic only works to your advantage, as barren branches showcase their signature red bark.

You can complement or substitute this shrub with its similarly bright deciduous cousin, the yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’). Sporting golden yellow branches, these shrubs can grow to match the height of the red twig dogwood.

With their shallow, far-reaching roots, twig dogwoods can thrive in wet, low-lying areas and help with erosion control. While this feature may not seem to bring many benefits in the dead of a dry winter, you may come to appreciate these shrubs’ roots during warmer spells that bring sleet and melting snow. Twig dogwood varieties display best when planted in areas that receive full sunlight. If you want to take full advantage of their aesthetic potential, group them together where they can be easily seen and appreciated from a window.

Hardy Hollies

The vibrancy of the Christmas season is widely associated with sprigs of holly. Berries need not be reserved for indoor holiday decor alone, however, as some varieties persist in the chilly outdoors. The types mentioned below grow best in sunny to partly shaded areas:

  • Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata): This hardy holly gives an appealing contrast to grey or white winter landscapes with its red or golden berries, depending on the type you choose. Growing up to 15 feet high, this plant’s greatest charm may lie in its ability to draw a wide array of wildlife. Winterberry holly is known to attract around 40 species of birds, in addition to being a crowd favourite amongst a variety of small mammals. Winterberry can look stunning when planted alongside evergreens.
  • Blue Princess Holly (Ilex x meserveae): Like its winterberry cousin, this red-berried holly can reach up to 12 feet. However, blue princess holly can easily be pruned down to feature as hedges. Due to this versatility and its year-round colour, the blue princess holly may be a good candidate to consider for planting at your business’ front entrance.
  • Compact inkberry holly (Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’)
    This deep green-leafed plant maxes out at a height of around 4 feet. It differs most significantly from some traditional forms of holly with its inky blackberries.

Colourful Trees

If you are looking for larger focal pieces to offset smaller foliage, trees are good investments that only grow greater in value and beauty with time. Like the red and yellow twig dogwoods, these taller plants may be shown to full benefit in partial or full view from one of your business’ windows.

We can’t talk about winter landscapes without at least a nod to Canada’s many conifers. These cone-bearing plants tend to sport needles or scaly leaves. As the majority are evergreens--blooming all year long--conifers can be a wise addition for any business exterior. Popular conifers include pines, spruces, cedars, and firs, to name a few. Here, we’ll first highlight some of the brightest of the conifer family:

  • Yews: The yew tree (Taxus baccata) stands apart from more common conifers due to their warmer toned bark and characteristic red berries (rather than cones). Birds are often found nesting in the protective boughs of these trees.
  • Birches: The deciduous yellow birch (Betula allegehaniensis) or paper birch (Betula papyria) are options that will pay off in appearance throughout the year. The unique barks of these trees set them apart from the more common evergreens and can function as eye-catching complements to other plant arrangements. Hollies and twig dogwood varieties, for example, contrast beautifully with the stark white of the paper birch and the shiny, golden lustre of the yellow birch. Birches are further differentiated from evergreens by their bark’s papery texture.

Getting Started

Now that you have some ideas on how to spruce up your landscape to set your business apart and attract clients, you may be wondering how to get started.

To learn more about your how to make the most out of landscape this winter, call Peel Exterior Maintenance at 1-888-265-7214 or contact us here.

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