From the Pros to Your Home: 5 Ways to Enliven Your Yard for Winter

Want to transform your yard into a seasonal stunner? Try these expert tips from Minnesota-based firm, Mom's Design Build.

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Colder, darker days may be an inevitable part of the winter months, but they don't have to diminish the beauty of your backyard. With the right features in place, you can ensure that your outdoor space remains green, warm and welcoming, even in the throes of winter weather. 

In-Ground Pool with Pool House

In-Ground Pool with Pool House

Lush plantings around the pool and pool house form a natural windbreak and also give the setting a sense of privacy. Low voltage lighting accents the surroundings. Plants include a grove of aspen trees and large evergreen trees.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

The Design Team from Mom's Landscaping and Design

The Design Team from Mom's Landscaping and Design

L to R: Designers Becca Bastyr, Heather Grossmann, Karie Zemlicka, Matthew Wurm, Angela Jelsma, Jim Sweeney (founder), Stephen Kung and Kyle Boucher

L to R: Designers Becca Bastyr, Heather Grossmann, Karie Zemlicka, Matthew Wurm, Angela Jelsma, Jim Sweeney (founder), Stephen Kung and Kyle Boucher

Based just outside of Minneapolis, Minn., the designers at Mom's Design Build have perfected this adaptive approach. By creating stunning outdoor spaces that their clients can enjoy even under a blanket of snow, they embrace and celebrate the dynamism of seasonal change.

"Our goal is to design outdoor spaces that enhance the seasons year-round," says Becca Bastyr, Mom's senior designer. "Many Minnesotans stay here because of the change in seasons, so we showcase all of them in our gardens by evolving bloom, color, texture and scents."

Backyard with Pool and Sunken Poolhouse

Backyard with Pool and Sunken Poolhouse

A sunken poolhouse provides a focal point for the swimming area. The sunken design unites the various activities, so that whether in the water or on dry land, participants feel connected to what's happening. The sunken building also offers an unusual perspective of the surrounding landscape.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

So, how can you make the most of your own yard, even in the winter months? Read on for Mom's expert tips. 

Choose Functional, Artful Features

Before breaking ground on their clients' outdoor spaces, the Mom's team first considers how things like sun exposure, wind and rainfall will vary from season to season. They then choose features that will both provide protection from the elements, as well as draw visual interest.

Coastal Pool Deck

Coastal Pool Deck

The design of the pool deck mimics the front porch, which ties the spaces together. Synthetic turf between the lounging space and the pool allows the surface water to drain and creates maximum flexibility in the use of the tight space for entertaining. The flooring is made of a tropical hardwood.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

"We do a lot of fire features — fireplaces, fire pits, infrared heaters, etc. — to establish warmth," explains Bastyr. "Covered pavilions or pergolas that can turn into a roof also offer protection from rain, wind and the chill of the seasons."

Introduce Warm Colors + Textures

"Because the draw of the outdoors is intensified by our short season, creating exterior living spaces that are cozy and embellished with indoor comfort is key," says Mom's founder, Jim Sweeney.

Glass-Enclosed Deck With Orange Accents

Glass-Enclosed Deck With Orange Accents

Four wicker chairs with bright orange cushions provide comfortable, stylish seating around the deck's fire pit. Thanks to the surrounding glass wall, this contemporary outdoor space feels even more warm and intimate.

Photo by: Bullis Photography

Bullis Photography

For this reason, the designers suggest outfitting those sheltered spaces with warm colors and textures. Plush cushions and pops of orange, for example, will visually brighten a deck or patio, making it all the more alluring in the winter. 

Create Pleasing Viewpoints

It's also important to consider how these features will look from the inside your home, as this is where you'll spend most of your time. By framing those views within a window or door, you can create a vignette that you'll enjoy no matter what the weather's like.

Resort-style Backyard and Pool

Resort-style Backyard and Pool

The swing bed underneath the pergola provides views of the resort-style backyard. Annual planters offer seasonal color nearby. Lighting around the yard ties the space together to create an at-home resort getaway.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

"It's like looking into your living room from your kitchen," says Sweeney. "It has to make sense for its space, but also be pleasing from other spaces."

Go for Greenery

To further enliven your yard, look to greenery that will thrive in the colder months. "A simple way to extend greenery through the winter is to use evergreen hedges that help define the landscape," says designer Stephen Kung. "Boxwood, dwarf globe arborvitae, juniper and yew are all useful for this technique." 

Entry Garden with Island Patio

Entry Garden with Island Patio

A traditional Balinese garden features a patio designed to feel like an island. This garden design juxtaposes strict formal lines and shapes with free-form movement and informality.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

"Even if there isn't much interest in color, there are plants that have architectural interest with their branches," Bastyr adds. "For example, hawthorn trees have gorgeous horizontal structure." Incorporating these features into your landscape, then, will amplify the beauty of your outdoor space. 

Illuminate the Landscape

Soft lighting, too, will make a difference to your yard by transforming an otherwise dreary space into a sparkling showcase. Bistro lights strung from trees and planters with LEDs all evoke a luminous, inviting setting.

Pool Area with Swing Bed, Pergola and Lighting

Pool Area with Swing Bed, Pergola and Lighting

The swing-bed pergola defines a space for homeowners to sit back and enjoy their backyard. Palm trees were added to add more of a resort-vibe to nights by the pool. Touches of home can be seen in the columns, which mimic the front porch, and dainty white picket fences on either side.

Photo by: Steve Silverman Imaging

Steve Silverman Imaging

"When the days get colder and shorter, Minnesotans don't see much daylight outside of what peeks through their office windows," Sweeney explains. "Landscape lighting can diminish the oppressive darkness of those short days."

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Deck Features Wood Pergola

Positioned at the head of the pool, the swing bed allows for sweeping views of the entire backyard. A wooden pergola overhead provides some relief from the sun, while palm trees and annual flowers add natural greenery to the setting. 

In-Ground Trampoline

Behind the swing bed, an in-ground trampoline gives the owners' daughters room to practice new flips and other gymnastics tricks. Because the trampoline is lined with green trim, it blends in with the synthetic turf for a seamless visual effect.

Photo By: Steve Silverman Imaging

Synthetic Tumbling Turf

Because the yard is naturally flat, the designers used synthetic turf with crushed rocks underneath to assist with drainage. At the same time, the space is ideal for the owners' gymnast daughters, giving them room to tumble and practice cartwheels. 

Photo By: Steve Silverman Imaging

Coastal-Inspired Dining Table

Though the table appears to seat eight, it actually extends to accomodate additional guests. Starfish accents and a seahorse centerpiece further evoke thoughts of the beach, ensuring that the backyard feels truly tropical and inviting. 

Photo By: Steve Silverman Imaging

Raised Deck Includes Lounge, Fire Pit

Wanting to make the backyard feel like a natural extension of the home, the designers echoed specific tones from the interior and front yard. Thus, the raised deck includes wood paneling and white columns, as well as boasts a fire pit and lounge.

Private Pool and Water Features

Because the pool can be seen straight through the house, the designers added fountains to draw additional visual interest. On the opposite side of the water, planters with LEDs illuminate the space for playing late into the evening. 

Party-Perfect Backyard

Stepping into the backyard becomes an otherworldly experience as bistro lights, sconces and containers create a luminous atmosphere. With a pool, swing bed, raised deck and outdoor kitchen, this space is perfect for hosting a number of friends and family members.

Swing Bed With Luxe Touches

Though located in Minnesota, the home includes a number of warm coastal touches, like this textured swing bed. Here, throw pillows and a cushioned base lure the owners to recline while their kids swim and play. Palm trees on either side further the resort-style vibes. 

Photo By: Steve Silverman Imaging

Outdoor Kitchen and Dining Area

Entertaining is a breeze thanks to a fully-stocked outdoor kitchen and connecting dining area. Here, teal and coral plates and linens give the reclaimed wood table a coastal touch, while candles keep the setting intimate.

Photo By: Steve Silverman Imaging

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