As summer comes to a close and fall eventually fades into winter our landscapes often dim into a less interesting state, too. Yards take on a flatness and show tan shades of dormant grass and less-vibrant shrubbery. A yard that is nearly 100% lawn is not only boring in the summer, it’s going to be even more boring in the winter. Consider removing some of that blasé grass and replacing it with water-wise plants that will make your yard look amazing, regardless of the season.

Here are a few plant varieties for your fall planting consideration that will add pizzazz and interest to your yard all winter long.


There are scores of trees that do well in our area and look amazing all year. Adding trees adds height, creates “outside rooms,” and lowers the outside “ceiling,” making the area feel intimate and cozy. When selecting a tree consider what it’s going to look like during every season. For example, Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) is a great tree that thrives in Utah, with green foliage in the spring and summer turning bright red in the fall. Its bark flakes away in layers, bringing an interesting texture in the winter months. Also, consider adding trees with an interesting shape. Weeping Mulberry (Morus spp.) or Contorted Filbert (Corylus avellane ‘Contorta’) are both examples of trees with unique forms.


The number of shrubs that can add interest and beauty to a landscape during winter is staggering. If you’re looking for something with interesting bark, try a Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) bush. It comes in many different varieties depending on desired size and color. “Didabl” boasts deep, wine-colored leaves while “Dart’s Gold” has a lighter, yellowish leaf. Both produce a profusion of white flowers in late spring followed by red berries in the fall along with an interesting flaky bark. If you’re wanting a little more color in your winter landscape consider a shrub with showy berries. American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum triilobum) has beautiful white flowers that turn into brilliant red berries. Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) or American Beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica) have deep purple berries that form in late summer and persist into the winter. Another way to add color is by selecting a bush like a Dogwood (Cornus spp.) that can have bright red or yellow bark making it stand out in stark contrast against the white snow.

Ornamental grasses

Adding decorative, large grasses is a great way to add movement and texture to the winter landscape. Varieties such as Maidenhair grass (Miscanthus spp.) have showy seed heads that beautifully capture the light as they mature. Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) turns a nice bronzy, red color in the winter. Twisted Dart Rush (Juncus effusus) has fun, corkscrew- shaped, stiff blades that poke through the snow and stay green all year.

Evergreens of any kind (trees or shrubs) are also great for any landscape. Golden Deodar Cedars (Cedrus deodara ‘Aurea’) present a striking golden foliage while Blue Spruces (Picea pungens) have a beautiful blue hue. Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’) has an interesting form as well. Adding evergreens is a must for any winter landscape and many smaller varieties are ideal for smaller spaces.

These winter landscaping ideas are just scrapping the surface and a visit to your local nursey will help plan for just the right tree, flower, plant or shrub. For more ideas on bringing vitality to your landscape, and adding more interest to your yard, visit or the Weber Basin Water Conservancy learning garden at 2837 E. Highway 193 in Layton.

Why stick to the typical boring yard? Spice thing up with some different plants that will bring beauty to your landscape now and throughout the typical dreariness of the winter months.

Janice Terry is the assistant conservation program coordinator at the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

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