Add to your Yard’s Winter Palette

by Blake Herzog

Our part of Arizona is famous for having the largest stands of ponderosa pines anywhere, but that doesn’t mean all our trees and shrubs stay green all winter long.

We have many that drop their leaves after gifting us a gorgeous autumn show of reds and golds. Their winter profiles have their own power and beauty, but here are a few species you can add to your yard for pops of cold-weather brilliance.


These conifers, workhorses of the western landscape, come in hundreds of varieties from ground-hugging spreaders to awe-inspiring “alligator” juniper trees.

For a dependable, low-maintenance shrub that will shine year-round try the blue star juniper with its short, bluish-green needles. These versatile plants tend to spread out more than up so they can be a great ground cover. With some training and trimming, though, you can maintain it as a compact, lively bush.

Bonus: This is a great time of year to plant this or any juniper!


Similar-looking to the holly bush, cotoneasters can put on the same kind of festive show throughout the winter with their bright red berries, drawing birds and other wildlife to your garden for even more color and entertainment.

They come in a plethora of varieties that serve as anything from a tight ground cover to a high hedge of 10 feet or more. Some of them fruit in the late summer or autumn, so make sure you know what to expect from the plant you buy.


Both varieties have green stems in the spring and summer, but in winter they drop their leaves to expose branches as vivid as the crisp red and yellow leaves other trees display in the fall.

When planted in groups, these plants make excellent year-round privacy screens as they can grow up to 9 feet. Dogwoods generally prefer moist environments but these subspecies have also done well in drier conditions with some irrigation, especially if they have some shade while they grow.