How to Create a Stunning Garden in Small Spaces for Fall and Winter
By Caitlin Richter
As the seasons change and temperatures drop, many gardeners find themselves hoping to retain their vibrant greenery and colorful blooms even as the leaves fall and the frost sets in. Fortunately, container gardening offers a creative and practical solution during each season, especially here in the Greater Wayzata and surrounding areas. Whether you have a small balcony, a patio, or even just a windowsill, you can create a visually stunning garden during the fall and winter months.
Benefits of Container Gardening
Container gardening is a versatile and space-saving way to enjoy gardening, especially if you have limited outdoor space. One of the benefits includes minimal maintenance. Container gardens typically require less weeding, pruning, and fertilizer compared to traditional in-ground gardens. They are also versatile. Containers come in various sizes and styles, allowing you to adapt your garden to your own personal style. Lastly, they can easily be redone to reflect the changing seasons!
Designing Your Container: Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers
Creating a visually appealing container garden involves understanding the “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” design principle. This concept helps you achieve a balanced and aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
- Thrillers: The thriller is the centerpiece of your container, usually a tall or eye-catching plant or decoration that adds vertical interest. In the fall and winter, consider using ornamental grasses, eucalyptus, willow branches, or tall birch logs.
- Fillers: Fillers are medium-height plants or objects that surround the thriller, providing bulk and color. For this time of year, ornamental kale, gourds, mums, berry sprays, or evergreen garland can be used to create a full, lush container.
- Spillers: Spillers are trailing plants that cascade over the edges of the container, softening its edges and adding a dynamic element. Common spillers include ivy, long evergreen branches, faux trailing berries, or by placing pumpkins on the ground to tie together the look of everything in the pot.
Characteristics of a Successful Fall and Winter Container
To ensure your container garden thrives, pay attention to these important details:
- Appropriate Pot Size: Choose containers that are appropriately sized for your plants and decorations. The pot should have enough space for root growth and good drainage as well as have a nice visual balance between foliage, container, and your own personal style. It’s also important that your pot be in scale with your home, a common mistake is to have pots that are too small and not in proportion with the house.
- Decorations: Faux plants and branches can add a touch of seasonal beauty during the fall and winter season to outdoor containers when live plants may not be at their peak. For example, artificial fall leaves, pumpkins, and decorative branches can create a festive and visually appealing autumnal display. Winter interests such as evergreen branches and faux berry sprays are more durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, including freezing temperatures and frost, without wilting or dying.
- Soil and Plant Care: While using high-quality potting mix enriched with organic matter is very important to provide essential nutrients to your plants during the summer, it’s not as important in the fall because plants are in the container for a shorter period of time. During the winter, it does not matter what time of soil you use as there are no living plants growing in the container.
- Proper Drainage: Ensure that your containers have drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogged plants, which can lead to root rot. Excess water also needs to drain from the pot before freezing temperatures to help prevent the pot from cracking.
- Watering: Container gardens often require more frequent watering than traditional gardens because they are growing in a smaller space and dry out faster. Cooling fall temps may mean you have to water less but you should still check your plants for water daily, especially if you have mums which need more frequent watering.
A few final tips:
Make sure winter containers are watered frequently until the soil is frozen. Just like a fresh cut Christmas tree, evergreen boughs and branches will take up water.
Evergreen branches should be sprayed with an anti desiccant such as Wilt Pruf which helps prevent the branches from turning brown by retaining moisture.
By following the “thriller, filler, spiller” design principle and ensuring the key characteristics of successful containers, you can create a beautiful garden that will brighten up your fall and winter days. So, don’t let the changing seasons deter you from gardening; get creative with containers and enjoy the beauty of nature year-round!