Avant Gardening

How-To Create A Lovely Winter Container in 5 Steps

Annual container displays aren’t just for the warmer months! Just think of all the possibilities – instead of the traditional wreath this year, why not an ice skate filled with bright berries or an antique children’s sled propped up with birch branches? Make your front entry unique this holiday season.

This blog post will provide step-by-step instructions for creating a simple, yet elegant winter evergreen display in a container for your front porch or patio area.

1. Empty Your Container – It’s important to start fresh, be sure to remove and compost any old annual material from summer/fall before starting your winter display. We don’t want any unsightly material poking through. Now is a good time to gather all of the materials you need , so you’re not running around wasting time during the creation of your holiday display.


2. Base Layer of Evergreens – This layer won’t be very noticeable later on so we suggest using more of your “filler” evergreen material (aka less expensive), possibly a good layer of balsam or frasier fir. There are multiple ways to assemble your evergreen boughs but I think it is easiest with a small container to start in the middle and work your way out, sticking in bough ends into the soil ~4″ in different directions. Remember that both sides of the bough can be used, rotating them can add extra interest. Depending on the size of your container you may want to cut the bough down to the next node, for the appropriate size and scale. You want them just poking out over the edge of your container ~4-6″, you can hang over more if you’re going for a more draping effect though, or if it’s not in a high traffic area.


3. Add Diversity – Displays can be filled with an wide assortment of evergreens that will hold their color during our long winter months. Types of evergreens include: balsam, scotch, red & white pine, frasier & concolor fir, junipers, arborvitae, boxwood, blue & Norway spruce, etc. If you’re not sure about a certain type, test it out! Just use a little of it sparingly the first year and if it holds up well and you like the look, go ahead and use more the following year!


4. Create Height – Now we’re getting into the fun part! Start in the center of your container and add stems. Just like the evergreen options, there is a wide variety of natural materials you can use. Consider curly willow, pussy willow, kerria, ninebark, birch branches, and of course any kind of dogwood twigs – red, yellow, coral. There’s even a Dogwood cultivar called ‘Arctic Sun’ with stems that change from yellow to red!

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5. A Little Something Special… the final touches! These are the cute details that really make it your own creation. Think about tucking in small splashes of extra accent material. Possibly some dried flowers (hydrangeas and allium work well), preserved ruscus, eucalyptus, pine cones, and winter berries… Really whatever your heart desires! Don’t forget about the more traditional holiday decorations too, such as: twinkling lights, shiny ornaments (we’d recommend the shatter-proof ones!!), glittery floral picks, silky bows and ribbon. The sky is the limit! Just make sure it will hold up to our harsh winter climate.


Our Avant Gardening & Landscaping team has created seasonal displays for many years. Nothing welcomes guests and visitors to your home or business better than a cheerful holiday display. If you need help designing and installing your winter container displays, just give us a call or email us!

608.838.2054 or