Add Color and Personality to Your Yard this Winter

Minnesota can be bipolar. Just this past Saturday—two days ago—the temperature was close to 70. It was a warm, beautiful fall day, more like spring than fall, really.

This morning, it was 20 degrees and snowing.

The bad news? It was slippery and a lot of people forgot how to drive.

The good news? Seeing all the white stuff puts us in a “holly, jolly” state of mind. Thanksgiving is 10 days away, and Christmas is a mere 33 days after that.

The cold weather also reminds us that even though the ground might be frozen (or freezing), there are still ways to keep our lawns looking pretty, especially when we’re hosting holiday gatherings:

  • Place holiday lights on your trees and shrubs. Rather than wrapping the branches, carefully drape the lights over the branches. When a shrub or tree is wrapped too tightly, you run the risk of rubbing off the protective bark that serves as insulation throughout winter.
  • Wrap a strand of holiday lights around a birdbath or outdoor lawn furniture for extra visual interest.
  • Make sure the lights are approved for outdoor use. If you want to hang lights from your house, use hooks, clips, and tabs—not staples. And be careful when you’re on ladders. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year for holiday decorating-related falls from ladders!
  • Make or buy frosty luminaries. Outdoor candles give off a warm glow to guests, and add pretty light to a snow-covered landscape.
  • Add color to your winter landscape by inviting birds into your front or backyard. Clean out your birdfeeders and restock them for winter. Clean out bluebird houses and leave them open until spring.
  • According to, “Plants such as rudbeckia, sunflowers, asters, and others that hang onto their seeds through the fall (and sometimes winter) are good for goldfinches and siskins. Native plants that drop their seeds are also valuable to the greater number of birds that will search the ground for this seed source. They are very adept at finding tiny seeds that would be virtually invisible to us.” Those dried up, dead plants might look ugly to us, but they’re a paradise to hungry birds.
  • When planning your landscape for next spring, incorporate trees and shrubs like dogwoods, hollies, cedars, and native apple species. Plant them away from the sidewalk and high traffic areas to avoid a mess, then sit and watch your feathered friends gather. The birds would say “thank you” if they could.

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