1: Planning makes perfect. Like any performance, a four-season outdoor show must be carefully thought out before the stars take the stage. Consider all four seasons when planning a garden that shines 365 days a year.
Phlox, pansies, and bulbs like tulips and daffodils are sure bets for spring. Annuals like zinnia, cosmos, and moss rose and heat-tolerant perennials—blanket flower, coreopsis—are standouts in summer. In fall, try purple aster, ornamental kale, and sedum. And don’t forget about winter, when there are a plethora of show-stoppers, including Harry Lauder’s walking stick, hellebore, evergreens, and berry-producing shrubs (which bring colorful birds flocking).
2: Look beyond the living. Garden structures and ornaments are critical to a garden that sparkles year-round. Gazing globes, statuary, and other garden décor work wonders in adding color and interest in dark or sparse parts of the landscape.
3: Containers are key. Express your creative side with planters that celebrate the seasons. Stick to pastel palettes and cold-tolerant plants in spring. In summer, take inspiration from the tropics and switch out tulips and pansies with lush, colorful foliage like canna, tufted hairgrass, and Persian shield. Maple Sugar hibiscus, strawflower, and dwarf grasses are fall favorites, while dogwood twigs and evergreen boughs ring in the holidays.
4: Plant annuals. Most gardens experience lean months, when the landscape transitions from one season to the next. Achieve continuous color with annuals. For the biggest impact, plant en masse. Large, thickly planted beds of annuals provide swaths of color that everyone will notice.
5: Evergreens and conifers are critical. Evergreens, such as boxwood, holly, arborvitae, and junipers look great throughout the year. During the growing season, they provide a backdrop for colorful annuals and perennials. But when the garden quiets in winter, they provide both structure and color. The same goes for conifers. Who can resist the graceful, snow-laden branches of a pine or spruce? And with so many colorful cultivars and dwarf varieties available today, there’s one for any yard.
6: Don’t forget about foliage. Ornamental grasses (fountain grass, blue fescue), dogwood, burning bush, deciduous trees like maples and white ash—all feature dazzling foliage that spans the seasons.
7: Provide good care. Continue to keep plants pest- and disease-free for a colorful show well past the growing season. Cut back spent foliage and deadhead spent blooms. The flush of color that most often follows is well worth it.