KSL Greenhouse: How to prepare your yard to look nice for the winter

Dec 16, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: 8:49 am
Red berries hanging from thin branches lightly coated with snow...
With winter officially starting in a couple of days, it’s time to prepare your yard to look nice. JayDee Gunnell, Professor of Horticulture at Utah State University gives tips. (Maria Shanina)
(Maria Shanina)

SALT LAKE CITY – With winter officially starting in a couple of days, it’s time to prepare your yard to look nice.

JayDee Gunnell, professor of horticulture at Utah State University, joined Maria Shilaos and Taun Beddes on the KSL Greenhouse show to share some winter-friendly things you can plant in your yard to keep it from looking dull.


Conifers can add some color to your yard.

“It gives you that kind of hope for life,” Gunnell says.

Some examples that he gave are the blue spruce and the Alaskan weeping cedars. Though, the gowdy oriental spruce is his favorite.

If you’re looking for smaller options, the globosa spruce is 6 inches by 6 inches. If you get the named variety, then they typically will stay smaller.

Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses have a cool effect, and they look best when they get their early morning frost with the snow.

According to Gunnell, a lot of grasses will flop if they get wet or are snowed on. That’s why he likes ornamental grasses that have an upright columnar tighter form.

A good example is the northwind panicum, which is a switch grass.

Trees that have unique bark

Any tree that has a peeling, exfoliating bark is a good choice.

Gunnell has a paperbark maple, which has a cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark. It’s one of his favorites.

“If you go online and do a search for winter interest and landscape plants, number one on everybody’s list is the red twig dogwood because that bright red color against the snow and against the evergreen looks really nice,” he says.

There are also variegated forms, so gardeners can also have more of a foliar effect.

One thing that Gunnell is really excited about is hollies because they just bring a smile to your face during the holiday season.

Keep in mind that with hollies, a gardener needs the male and the female to have fruit. The male will provide pollination, and the female will bear the fruit.


According to Gunnell, a lot of shrubs tend to get easily buried if any amount of snow falls. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find taller shrubs.

Taun says the English laurels can get a little taller depending on the variety. One that he really likes is the dwarf English laurel, which can grow to about 6 or 7 feet.

Another example is the yew. It’s shade-tolerant and very pretty. However, Gunell wouldn’t recommend it if you live in an area where animals come and eat your fruit often.

Lodgepole pines

The last thing on Gunell’s list is lodgepole pines. The lodgepole pine has some cultivars available.

The Taylor’s sunburst lodgepole pine has bright yellow needles in the early spring, so it’s a nice contrast. The Chief Joseph pine stays green all summer and as soon as winter hits, it turns yellow and stays yellow all winter. It adds a unique bright yellow color to the landscape.

For more info, listen to the podcast below!

The KSL Greenhouse is on every Saturday from 8-11 a.m. You can follow the show on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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KSL Greenhouse: How to prepare your yard to look nice for the winter