8 Ways Gardens Come Alive in the Dead of Winter

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Willow tit perching on frosty branch
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Though the ground's now frozen and flower buds have long since been forgotten, your garden doesn't have to suffer a dreary winter fate. Some plants and flowers actually thrive in cooler temps, allowing you to infuse a bit of color into an otherwise gray and brown landscape. Additionally, you can perk up your winter garden by employing a few tips and tricks that instantly give your backyard a much needed face lift.

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Leaves with frost on edges
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Winter Shrubs

Plant a shrub--or three--in your garden that will withstand winter's frigid temperatures. Alternatively, plant an ornamental grass, such as the pink muhly, that tolerates winter weather.

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Hanging plant in greenhouse
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Hanging Baskets

Instantly rejuvenate your winter garden with a hanging basket. You can hang the basket near your door, in the middle of the yard or anywhere you want to add color. Hanging baskets are convenient because you can take them down and put them inside if temperatures drop too low. You can also fill them temporarily with faux flowers until spring.

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Cloves of garlic
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Winter-Friendly Vegetables

Take advantage of winter weather by planting edibles that thrive in cooler temperatures. The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems says that onions, garlic and leeks are all grown over the winter. Plant the seeds in fertile soil during mid to late fall for best results.

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Herbal plants in carton, close-up
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Herb Garden

Many herbs also survive the decreased sunlight and cooler temperatures of winter. Such herbs include oregano, thyme, parsley, chives, chervil and various mints, says the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. To ensure a healthy harvest, make sure your herbs are mature before winter.

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Buckthorn berries on tree in winter
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Ornamental Wood Trees

If you're desperate for color during the gray and blustery months, plant ornamental wood trees that fruit come winter. Try the "Sparkleberry" winterberry tree, pictured here, which fruits vibrant, tiny red berries.

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Pots asiatiques (Vietnam)
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Decorative Pots

Another way to instantly add color and personality to a boring backyard is with decorative planters. Use them to house your herbs or winter edibles, small winter pines or just set them out empty in anticipation of spring.

Image Credit: Pots asiatiques (Vietnam) image by Ludovic LAN from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>