The winter landscape in the northeast can be jaw-dropping: A picturesque winter wonderland with freshly fallen snow. But, that same winter landscape can look stark and desolate when snow isn’t present, exposing lifeless grass and fallen foliage, barren trees, and a colorless vista. That means, your yard may face the same bleak landscape. However, with a few helpful hints, your property can continue to provide brightness and beauty all year long. Here are five ways to brighten your tri-state area home during the winter months:

1. Plant Hardy Winter Plants

Most of the drab winter landscape comes from lack of color. We don’t mean a white-out of gorgeous snow, though, we mean the opposite: When the snow melts and you’re left with muddy brown fields and bare branches. To combat this, colorful plants, trees, and shrubs can make all the difference. Think evergreens and different varieties of holly, which retain their brilliant greens throughout the winter—and female holly bushes offer the bonus of producing stunning red berries. Perhaps even more exciting and magical is seeing these pops of color after the first big snow of the season. There are many varieties of hardy plants that will compliment your landscape as well as a number of native cold-weather bloomers that will do the same. One of the major benefits of adding native plants to your residential landscape is that they are used to area’s seasons and weather conditions. A few plants that are native to Pennsylvania include American Holly, American Witchhazel, Winterberry, Blackhaw, and Virginia Roses.   Finally, another wonderful benefit to adding these types of plants to your back or front yard is the wildlife they attract—generally a variety of birds that feed off the plants or use them as shelter. Birdlife includes the Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Bluebird, American Bluebird, White-throated sparrows, wild turkeys, and the Northern Cardinal.

2. Hang a Bird Feeder

Another way to attract birdlife, rather than adding plants to your landscape, is to hang a bird feeder or two! Or three! Hanging a few feeders with quality bird seed throughout your property and near windows will breathe life into any dreary landscape by adding colorful movement and activity throughout the winter. You don’t have to be an enthusiastic birder to get enjoyment out of spotting new and familiar beaked faces at your kitchen window. It adds to your routine, something to look forward to, and is a fun, safe, (and warm) indoor activity for young children to monitor throughout the seasons.

3. Add a Permanent Pop of Color

One fun winter project that will surely bring joy is painting pots, window boxes, or even your front door! If you’re beginning to notice that your outdoor clay pots are becoming dirty or discolored, your painted ceramic pots are chipping or losing their luster, or your window boxes are becoming weathered, cleaning them or painting them vibrant colors may be just the ticket! Similarly, consider repainting your exterior door or front gate. Opting for a brighter color will cheer things right up. It’s surprising how one little detail can change the entire feel of a property. Embarking on this small home improvement will also add value and curb appeal to your home.

4. Install Landscape Lighting

Naturally, one of our favorite ways to brighten winter scenery is to add outdoor lighting to your property. Illuminating your home, walkways, driveway, and especially your garden and outdoor living space can truly lighten a dreary winter night. The benefit of installing landscape lighting is that it is the only way to address the winter blues in the evening. All other measures are aimed at daytime enjoyment. Adding outdoor lighting helps extend that enjoyment into the evening hours. It helps you appreciate (and show off!) all the ideas above: the bright colored pots, the new window boxes, front door, gate, and your colorful winter-hardy plants. It enhances the beauty of your home and landscape while adding a level of safety and security to it, too.

5. Introduce Tropical Elements

Even if you have a sunny indoor pool or sun porch with big windows, these rooms can still feel a bit bleak come winter. So, bring the outdoors in. Or, better yet, bring the tropics to the northeast and bring them inside, taboot! Adding some lush green tropical plants and wild-colored tropical flowers can give you that vacation-like sense of relaxation; it can take you out of your everyday routine in the northeast and provide some stress relief as well as a cure for the wintertime blues. You can take it a step further by adding landscape lighting and showing off these cheery new additions.

Take Your Gray Skies Away

Any of the suggestions above will help add some color and life to your winter landscape. Our goal is to help take those gray winter skies away and make your home a colorful retreat for you, your family, and your guests. While it may be cold outside, these tips will surely bring some warmth to your surroundings and smiles to your faces. Happy Winter!