Ideas from Peterborough GreenUP on learn how to design your individual ‘winter backyard’


A winter backyard is one which has been designed to offer decorative enchantment and ecological advantages throughout the winter months. Pictured are the seed heads of Bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata) after a winter snowfall. (Photograph: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)

Gardening could also be the very last thing in your thoughts as we dive into the depths of winter, nevertheless it’s an excellent time to plan how your backyard may look subsequent winter.

Listed below are some the reason why winter deserves extra consideration in your gardening follow, and suggestions for designing your individual ‘winter backyard’.

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Wholesome winter gardens present crucial habitat for wildlife

An evergreen tree with a fresh coating of snow. Planting evergreen trees on the north side of your house can help reduce heat loss in winter, while also providing a touch of green throughout the winter as well as shelter for birds and another wildlife. (Photo: Leif Einarson / GreenUP)
An evergreen tree with a recent coating of snow. Planting evergreen timber on the north aspect of your own home will help scale back warmth loss in winter, whereas additionally offering a contact of inexperienced all through the winter in addition to shelter for birds and one other wildlife. (Photograph: Leif Einarson / GreenUP)

A winter backyard is one which has been designed to offer decorative enchantment and ecological advantages throughout the winter months.

A lot of the visible curiosity in a winter backyard comes from useless or dormant plant supplies, comparable to snow-covered grasses, berries, and brightly colored stems.

Evergreen timber and shrubs, which proceed to photosynthesize and develop within the winter, present glorious visible construction and much-needed greenery.

These crops are equally vital for native wildlife. Birds that overwinter in our area eat seeds and berries from a variety of crops. Mammals that don’t hibernate, comparable to rabbits, eat bark and small twigs when different meals sources are scarce. (Bunnies actually love younger timber and shrubs, so that you may wish to shield the trunks of immature timber when you solely have one or two of every.)

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A backyard designed for all seasons can scale back your family vitality payments and carbon footprint

A diagram showing the ideal placement of conifer and deciduous trees for reaping the benefits of passive warmth during the winter months, which can help reduce household energy bills. (Illustration: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)
A diagram displaying the perfect placement of conifer and deciduous timber for reaping the advantages of passive heat throughout the winter months, which will help scale back family vitality payments. (Illustration: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)

Effectively-placed timber assist cool your property in the summertime and retain warmth within the winter.

Coniferous evergreen timber planted to the north and northwest of your property can break chilly winter winds, which takes strain off your furnace (and the planet). Based on the Arbor Day Basis, well-placed timber can scale back heating prices by as much as 30 per cent.

To maximise these advantages, it is best to find evergreen windbreaks roughly one to 2 occasions their anticipated top at maturity away from your own home. For instance, a tree that may develop 20 toes tall must be situated roughly 40 toes from your property.

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Planting deciduous timber on the south, east, and west sides of your property supplies shade in the summertime and permits the solar’s heat into your property as soon as they lose their leaves. Solely plant conifer timber on the south aspect of your property if they’re situated greater than 3 times their mature top away, so that they don’t block the rays of the low winter solar.

When strategic tree planting is paired with different residence vitality retrofits, you possibly can scale back your family’s carbon footprint even additional (go to for extra details about residence vitality retrofits).


The place to start along with your winter backyard

Unlike most other trees, the American beech holds its leaves throughout the winter. As well as providing visual contrast against the snow, the brown leaves rustle in the wind to break the winter silence. (Photo: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)
Not like most different timber, the American beech holds its leaves all through the winter. In addition to offering visible distinction in opposition to the snow, the brown leaves rustle within the wind to interrupt the winter silence. (Photograph: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)

Step one in making a winter backyard is to watch and {photograph} your area from many angles. Attempt taking photographs in black and white to raised assess the textural curiosity in your backyard.

Establish structural components, comparable to evergreen timber and shrubs, or attention-grabbing views that you simply don’t see when summer time foliage is in the way in which. These are nice focal factors in a winter backyard. Don’t see any? Establish areas that might be enhanced by the addition of winter options.

Subsequent, perform some research about which crops provide winter worth and are well-suited to the circumstances of your website. Pink osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia) are favourites of Vern Bastable, director of GreenUP’s Ecology Park and Panorama Packages.

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“There are few different crops that distinction so effectively with freshly fallen snow as pink osier dogwood,” Bastable explains. “It really makes any scene appear like the entrance of a beautiful vacation greeting card. Plus, like all of the dogwoods, the low-growing tender branches are the white bread of the forest for thus many critters. It’s all the time neat to search out the chewed-off suggestions of dogwood and attempt to guess who was snacking final.”

“Not like most different timber, the American beech holds its leaves all through the winter,” he provides. “The recent snow on these yellow-brown leaves is all the time one thing to stay up for on a chilly winter’s stroll, as is the sound of winter winds rustling the leaves in an in any other case silent forest.”

Choosing the fitting plant takes time. No must rush. In any case, planting season remains to be months away!

Gray dogwood near Armour Hill in Peterborough.  (Photo: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)
Grey dogwood close to Armour Hill in Peterborough. (Photograph: Hayley Goodchild / GreenUP)

For extra data on the rising circumstances that these and different native species require, take a look at respected sources, such because the College of Guelph Arboretum, the Missouri Botanical Backyard web site, or GreenUP’s Sustainable Landscaping Information.


No backyard? No downside.

After all, you don’t want your individual backyard to understand winter’s magnificence. There’s a lot to see and do within the many parks and pure areas round Nogojiwanong/Peterborough.

You possibly can even take pleasure in winter gardens just about. For instance, take a look at this three-minute winter tour on the Toronto Botanical Gardens with Director of Horticulture Paul Gellatly:

VIDEO: Take a stroll by means of our winter backyard with Paul Gellatly


Hayley Goodchild is coordinator of GreenUP’s NeighbourHOOD applications. For extra details about residence vitality retrofits and sources for creating sustainable gardens, go to the GreenUP web site at


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