You might think that snow on the ground means the end of your gardening season, but that's not necessarily true. With the right plants and seasonal accents, you can still have living holiday container gardens to show off outside (as opposed to using fake greens and berries from the craft store). Follow our design or take your own creative liberties to assemble a seasonal showstopper to live on your front porch this winter.
Fill your container to 3/4 full with compacted soil. Press the soil down slightly so it stays in place and provides a sturdy base for your fresh evergreens. Use your hand to create a hole in the four to six inches deep and about an inch wider than the tree you're planting.
Plant a small spruce tree in the center of the pot where you made the hole. If you're not planning to plant the tree in the ground in the spring, use a pre-cut tree topper instead. Otherwise, buy a full tree with roots (it can be potted or balled-and-burlapped). After you bury a few inches of the tree trunk in the container, backfill the soil into the tree's hole and firmly tamp down around the trunk to keep it in place.
To transplant the tree in your yard, wait until spring when the soil has thawed. Choose a place in your yard that gets plenty of sun and has enough room for the tree to grow. Dig a hole twice as large as the root ball and bury the tree at the same depth as it was in the container. Only fertilize the tree after you see growth in the spring.
Use branches of juniper, cedar, and pine to fill in around the spruce tree. Tuck the cut ends of the evergreen branches into the soil and keep adding around the container for a full and lush look. Be sure to stick shorter evergreens in front and taller in the back. For example, pine and juniper branches are a good filler around the container and cedar branches are ideal for sitting in the front and spilling over the sides of the container.
Decorate the small tree in the center however you'd like. We used beaded garland and small plastic ornaments to garnish ours (Editor's Tip: Don't use glass bulbs—they can crack in the cold). You can also use string lights, twinkle lights, or ribbon to finish the display.
Fill the container to 3/4 full with compacted soil. Press the soil down slightly so it stays in place and provides a sturdy base for the evergreen branches.
Place long and narrow birch branches into the soil as far as they will go. Use different lengths for a more dynamic look.
Place fir branches (ones that are more sturdy) around the base of the birch branches. Add layers of pine, cedar, and juniper around the container for fullness. Like with the smaller winter container garden, put cedar around the rim of the container to spill over the sides.
Related: How to Plant a Container Garden
Finish with winterberry stems or any other ornamental decorations, like dried hydrangeas, pinecone picks, or dried seed pods. If the planter is against the wall, focus these props at the front of the container.