Garden Planning for All Seasons

Learn more about how to plant a garden that boasts year-round seasonal appeal with this guide.
Fiery Foliage and Berries Set Fall Garden on Fire

Fiery Foliage and Berries Set Fall Garden on Fire

Year around appeal is important in a garden and requires careful planning. The brilliant red leaves of Acer palmatum and dense red berries of a Cotoneaster set the garden on fire in the fall.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Related To:

Creating a spectacular garden design that looks beautiful and healthy throughout the year requires careful planning. Find inspiration and ideas by visiting open gardens at different times of the year, note the plants that are looking their best, and add these to your displays. Learn more about how the seasons will affect your garden with this seasonal guide.


Many herbaceous perennials are beneath the soil at this time of year, but those with sturdy stems and enduring seedheads make decorative displays when married with grasses and evergreens. Colorful dogwoods (Cornus) also come into their own in the winter with their scarlet or bright yellow trunks, while white birches (Betula), golden bamboos, and the red trunks of Prunus serrula are picked out by the sloping rays of the winter sun. A few shrubs dare to bloom, including Mahonia japonica, witch hazels (Hamamelis), and scented winter box (Sarcococca). Conifers add evergreen interest with blue-, and gold-leaf types injecting extra color. 


Heralding the start of the growing season, spring arrives with a burst of color as the sun warms the soil and buds unfurl. Delicate blossoms adorn tree branches like bolts of lace, while a few shrubs beneath their canopies also put on an early show. Magnolias are the queens of the spring garden, their beautiful flowers striking a pose against the graceful stems. Perennials are also starting to show their faces in the spring with a range of beautiful hellebores and also dainty bleeding hearts (Dicentra) leading the way. 


Long, sun-drenched days epitomize early summer when the garden is in full swing with plants vying for attention at every turn. The choice is vast, but remember that too many contrasting plants can look messy. Include a few attractive foliage subjects to offset perennials and flowering shrubs. Trees perform a similar function and also help to regulate temperature fluctuations in the garden. As summer draws on, beds and borders may look past their prime, so include asters, rudbeckias, crocosmias and decorative grasses that flower as the season comes to a close. 


It’s easy to forget about fall when you’re planting a border in the spring, but this can be a dramatic season with flaming red and orange foliage firing up the proceedings and branches laden with shimmering fruits. Trees and shrubs valued for their fall tints and berries include  maples, cherries, crabapples, SorbusCotoneasterCotinus, and Viburnum opulus. The violet beadlike berries of Callicarpa bodinieri are also well worth including. Some flowers, such as Verbena bonariensis, asters, and Abelia, continue to bloom as temperatures plunge, while hydrangeas, sedums, and the grasses that bloomed earlier have ornamental seedheads, many of which will persist into the winter. Include some fall-flowering bulbs, such as nerines and crocuses, at the front of a sheltered sunny border.

Keep Reading

Next Up

A Sensory Garden for the Rockies and High Plains

This landscape plan will give gardeners in the Rockies and High Plains a fragrant, colorful "wrap" for any patio.

Northeast Meditation Garden

Native grasses and accent plants, plus bamboo panels, create this secluded garden retreat.

Florida Meditation Garden Plan

Create a little bit of heaven in your backyard: In this landscape design, bamboo panels and native plants create a private garden retreat.

A Florida Sensory Garden Plan

Use this guide to create a stimulating, sensory garden.

A Northeast Sensory Garden Plan

Use this landscape design plan to provide fragrant, colorful plantings for your patio.

A Southeast Sensory Garden Plan

Choose these plants and flowers to create a garden founded on the senses.

Pacific Northwest Fruit Garden

Plant the best berries and fruit trees for your Northwest climate, and create a beautiful sitting area at the same time.

Pacific Northwest Meditation Garden Plan

Evergreen huckleberry and Pacific madrone help accent this low-maintenance garden sanctuary.

An Upper Midwest Sensory Garden Plan

This landscape plan provides a fragrant, colorful "wrap" for any patio.

A Fruit Garden for the Rockies and High Plains

Imagine stepping outside your back door to pick raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, persimmons, apples and pears. Here's a beautiful sitting area for your yard that will taste as good as it looks.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.