Have you recently moved to a new home with a garden, patio or courtyard? Now that it’s winter, we may be spending less time outside, but it’s easy to create a colorful, low-maintenance space that you can enjoy during the colder months too.

Would you like a rural garden feeling, full of overflowing pots and meadows? Or maybe a more traditional lawn with flowerbeds around the edges?

Here we show you five ways to bring some color to your winter garden, whatever your style. And as a bonus, you also help the bees, birds and many other wild animals in the garden.

1. Give a small tree a home

All of these shrubs will grow in large pots if you want some color to brighten up your sidewalk or walkway:

  • Holly: the bright red berries of this evergreen are a Christmas classic. Choose a female variety if you want to see those bright red berries, and a self-fertile variety like Ilex aquifolium ‘JC van Tol’ guarantees you a harvest (they are not that spiky either).
  • spindle Euonymus europaeus: in fall, bright pink lantern-shaped flowers cradle a bright orange seed.
  • crab apple: varieties such as Malus x robusta Red Sentinel was bursting with beautiful red fruit until January.

2. Decorate your fences

Fences are a perfect blank slate for welcoming winter colors. Here are some top tips for decorating fences and walls:

  • Dear Briar Rosa rubiginosa: this beautiful plant is bursting with pink roses with open flower heads in late spring, as well as apple-scented foliage and profuse red hips in winter.
  • winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum: a fragrant scrambler with bright yellow, star-shaped flowers that bloom from January to March.
  • Common ivy Hedera Helix: an evergreen that flowers from September to November and then produces fruit from January to May.
  • native honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum: it has beautifully fragrant flowers in spring and summer that are much loved by moths, and in the fall it will be adorned with bright red berries, favored by birds such as blackbirds.

A robin perched in a tree with berries

3. Build a bulb lasagna

Planting bulbs together in a ‘lasagna’ means they will pop up one after the other and bring color from late winter into spring.

Try this ‘recipe’:

Layer 1 (bottom): allium with bold purple orbs
Layer 2: honey garlic with hanging cream and pink heads
Layer 3: Grape Hyacinth with Collected Blue Trumpets
Tier 4: (top) – Crocus, whose purple, yellow and white cups are the first to bloom in February.

A final scattering of primrose seeds on the ground gives a bright yellow contrast to the bulbs in the second year.

4. Provide a birdbath

Plants are not the only way to add color to your winter garden. What could be more colorful than a goldfinch spreading its wings with their gold band? Or a robin with his iconic red breast?

A great way to attract birds to your yard is by watering. Birds need water, both for drinking and for cleaning their feathers, so installing a birdbath will quickly attract them to your yard (especially in the winter when other water sources can freeze). Make sure it is no more than about 5cm deep and for some traction with rocks or gravel if the bottom is slippery.

Provide seed in your garden to attract and feed the birds this winter

5. Feed the Birds

Another way to attract birds to your yard is to put food outside. In winter, there are often fewer natural food sources available and birds need extra calories to keep warm.

If you’re concerned about squirrels getting the best bites, you can try setting up a squirrel-proof feeder, and if messy leftovers are a problem, using ‘no mess sunflower seed’ mixes can help.

In winter, you may even be visited by migratory birds, such as a flock of redwings, fieldfares foraging on fallen fruit, or you may even see the yellow and black stripes of a siskin.

For more ideas on how to design a garden with nature in mind, including mini makeover videos and an inspiring guide, visit rspb.org.uk/yourdoorstep.

Images provided by rspb-images.com