5 Cool Trees to Brighten Winter Landscapes

Written by Mario Cipriano of Davey Tree - North Virginia
Updated December 14, 2016
Japanese maple tree's colorful leaves
The Japanese maple tree has colorful foliage and striking sculptured features, adding interest to autumn and winter landscapes. (Photo courtesy of Mario Cipriano)

Birch, cedar and other cold-hardy trees are good choices for warming up a snowy scene.

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Winter landscapes can look less than cheery once colorful autumn leaves have fallen and perky perennials begin their long seasonal nap. But you can add interest to your winter landscaping with trees and shrubs that provide color, height, texture and berries throughout the cold months. 

Besides being attractive features, winter trees also provide food and shelter for local wildlife and increase property values. 

1. It’s always Christmas with holly

With its crisp green leaves and bright red berries, no wonder Christmas decorations so often showcase holly. While the scarlet holly berries are a welcome sight in winter, hollies add year-round interest to winter landscapes. Choose from many varieties, shapes and shades of green.

Research the holly’s needs before planting, including its mature size and maintenance requirements. Plant both male and female varieties to ensure your trees produce the most vibrant red winter berries. 

Wild birds can eat the holly berry without ill effect. The same is not true for humans and our pets! Be especially careful to keep holly berries away from children, as well as dogs and cats.

2. Possumhaw: a star of winter landscapes

A species of holly, this female plant produces bright red, orange or yellow berries that beautifully accent fall and winter landscapes. This variety of holly can adapt to many soil conditions and grows in spaces that receive shade to full sun. 

3. The birch tree offers many winter landscaping ideas

The unique bark and delicate foliage of birch make it a prized addition in winter landscapes. Different varieties have distinctive bark colorations and forms. Plant a white birch tree for white bark and river birch for cream, tan or orange bark. Keep these trees healthy by planting in a spot where soil is moist and the tree will receive full sun. Planted in the right location and with proper care, birch trees should live for 40-50 years. 

4. Try a cedar tree for winter interest

It's easy to see why we think of evergreens as the best winter trees, especially when frosted with a light coating of fresh snow. Though any persistent-needled conifer will have that evergreen effect and remain colorful all year, a cedar tree usually is your best choice. Choose cedars such as juniper, arborvitae or deodar for their great architectural structure and they’ll reward you for years to come. 

cedar tree foliage
Evergreens are the original cool trees, and a natural choice for winter landscapes. Try a cedar tree; there are a number of varieties to choose from. (Photo courtesy of Mario Cipriano)

5. Japanese maple is a colorful showstopper

Japanese maples add beauty to fall and winter landscapes. This small tree packs a big punch with its stunning architectural-like features and colorful foliage in hues of crimson, orange, gold, pink or white. Choose weeping varieties of Japanese maple with cascading branches and lacy leaves for a look that stands out. 

Find out how to add value and natural beauty to your landscape by consulting with a certified arborist, who can provide recommendations for your landscape and tips to make it beautiful year-round.

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About this Experts contributor: Mario Cipriano is a certified arborist and district manager of Davey Tree Service’s North Virginia office.

As of December 13, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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