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Winter in the North can be a gardener’s worst enemy: There’s nothing to plant, little outside work to do, and no plants that bloom outdoors. Fortunately, trees can come to the rescue, with color, texture, height, and sometimes berries. Here’s how to choose the best trees for winter landscape interest.
Evergreens for Color and Structure
When most people think of the best trees for winter landscape interest, they naturally think of evergreens. There’s good reason: In the Northern Hemisphere, evergreens, or conifers, typically retain their needles (or leaves) year-round and remain colorful throughout the winter.
When it comes to evergreens, people aren’t aware of how many needle types there are; their diversity makes them one of the best trees for winter landscape interest. “A blue spruce looks very different than a cedar,” says Luana Vargas, educational development manager for the International Society of Arboriculture. “There are different needle shapes and colors, and if you are somewhere that gets snow, some of the branches are really pretty when covered with snow.”
Some of Vargas’s favorite evergreens for winter landscape interest include cedars for their lovely architecture and display quality when it snows, and firs and spruces for both trees’ conical shapes that mesh well with the landscape. Firs and spruces are also commonly used as Christmas trees, making them a traditional favorite for winter landscape interest. “However, they can get really big, so size is a consideration,” Vargas says.