Here we are stuck squarely between the “rake leaves” and “plant flowers” seasons. Indeed, it’s actually “shovel snow” season in many parts of the country, and if you’re an avid gardener, that can be a big bummer.

Thankfully, you can do a little gardening during winter. Here are 6 ways to get your green thumb on (without getting frostbite).

1. Find winter-loving shrubs

Depending on how much snow you currently have, you might not be able to plant these now (in which case, mark your calendar for next fall). But if you can, ask your garden center about colorful winter-hardy shrubs like winter honeysuckle and winter jasmine.

2. Fake it ’til you make it

If your ground is stone cold frozen and a bed of flowers is out of the question, you still might be able to enjoy the beauty of blooms by planting pots. Winter flowers that’ll add a gorgeous pop of color include pansies, calendula, and snapdragons.

3.  Do the dirty work

Your weeds might be covered under a fine layer of frost, but you can still take care of other small maintenance chores, such as pruning shrubs and trees and making sure that the dead leaves are completely off your lawn.

4.  Feed your feathered friends

This isn’t technically a gardening activity, but it sure can contribute to a lovely garden. Winter is the perfect time to establish your home as the “place to be” by keeping a bird feeder full of bird-friendly choices like suet, peanuts, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds. You can also give your frigid winged visitors their own spa amid other frozen surfaces by purchasing a heated bird bath. Just keep the birdhouses and bird baths clean since there may be lots of different feathers flocking together in your inviting yard.

5.  Enjoy cold weather veggies

Granted, the tomatoes and green beans will have to wait, but there are a number of vegetables that can grow all winter. Among the hardy veggies that can survive a frost are winter faves like carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and turnips — perfect to turn into a hearty stew or soup.

6.  Know your zone

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help you determine which plants might thrive in your local area so you can select ones that are most likely to survive. You’ll also want to consider how much natural light select plants need.

7.  Dream about next spring’s garden

If you’re stuck in the house, you can at least dream about the garden fun you’ll have in just a few short months. Take the time to sketch out your ideal garden, taking into account your “zone” and the sun needs of the various plants you are considering. Then settle in with some catalogs or your laptop and find the seeds you need to create your spring garden oasis.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.