It’s been a harsh year, but there’s still a lot to smile about this season.
So whether you have a massive snow-capped yard or a tiny balcony, let’s explore some Christmas garden ideas to brighten up your space and spread some holiday cheer. We’ll go from high-end to down DIY.
1. Natural Baubles
Uneasy about commercialised Christmas decorations? All that sparkle and plastic can’t be good for the environment. Luckily, you can DIY décor using all-natural items. Get an old wooden box or crate from the junkyard. Fill it with pinecones, rose hips, and frozen leaves lying on a bed of straw. It’ll soak up any dust or excess moisture. Place it under outdoor accent lights for effect.
2. Turf Topiary
You’ve heard of sky-writing. And you’ve probably seen topiary used to spell the name of a college or institution. But you don’t have to grow a smart edge to get that holiday edge. Who even has the time! Instead, buy some non-toxic turf and spell out ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Goodbye 2020!!’ You can lay your grassy writing at the front door or on the fence for neighbours to enjoy.
3. Whittle Wattle
Who can resist a pretty reindeer? But PETA, Santa, (and your local weather) may stop you from adopting one. So if you have any whittling skills, you can carve a timber reindeer from local driftwood. Or you can get a nearby craftsperson or carpenter to make one. It’ll cost you though!
4. Go Live Go Green
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a tree. For many families ‘tree hunting’ is a crucial part of holiday festivities. But you don’t have to actually cut the tree. If you have trees in your yard, you can string them up with lights, mistletoe, and holly wreaths, even if they’re not traditional ‘Christmas trees’ (traditional examples include fir, spruce, pine, cypress, or similar tree species).
5. Wonders of Wicker
We frequently forget Christmas is a pagan festival. So it wasn’t initially Christian – we just tweaked it for modern religious needs. Meaning if you’re not particularly churchy and would rather skip the nativity scene, you can still set up a pretty Christmas garden. Arrange some wicker baskets, stars, and woven ornaments in the snow. Fill them with goodies for guests.
6. Go Alfresco
If the weather is decent, you can easily set up a ‘Christmas Table’ in the yard. Load it with ornaments that are safe for the outdoors, both in category and construction. A tiny tinsel reindeer would be at home at the garden table. Fake candy canes? Those could cause a health hazard when it gets nibbled by neighbourhood pets, pests (or even naughty human kids!)
7. Coloured Trees
Spruce is a popular choice for Christmas trees so you can plan to plant them earlier in the year. That way, they’ll bloom in time for the holidays. Position them tastefully so they’ll frame your yard without crowding it. And opt for ‘coloured’ spruces in blue, silver, or white rather than green. Their unexpected hues will brighten your yard and loo great with lights and baubles.
8. Flowery Wreaths
Speaking of unconventional décor, who says your Christmas tree has to be a tree? If your family loves flowers, consider X-mas-tree-shaped flower arrangements. You can mount them in doorways, windows, or on the deck and patio. You can even set up a make-shift Christmas aisle lading to your door and line the sides of the pathway with flower tree-shaped flower wreaths.
9. Wreaths for Tables
Mistletoe is conveniently placed for those magical Christmas kisses. And holly wreaths often adorn windows and doors. But you could set up distressed tables in the yard and place a basic wreath on the surface or the legs. You can also put wreaths on garden posts, fences, or trees.
10. Tree-House … or Tree Poster?
This can be an extravagant Christmas garden idea … if you want it to be. Help the kids set up their treehouse for the holidays. Or work with your teens to build a Christmas Clubhouse from scratch. A less labour-intensive project – especially for smaller kids – is to make a Christmas tree house mosaic, collage, or even a massive stencilled wall-to-wall printout they can colour in.
11. Float and Feather
Indoor Christmas décor is delicate and dainty. Baubles and globules with fragile forms and colours that glint as catch the Christmas light. Outdoor décor needs to be tougher so it can withstand the weather. That also means it can be cheaper to avoid wasteful damage. Lightweight baubles made from feathers, wicker, and pinecones so they can dance and flutter in the wind.
12. Lit and Lovely
Outdoor lights are generally waterproof. And with LEDs, your garden can be versatile this Christmas. Invest in self-lighting outdoor garlands. They’re often shaped like leaves and flowers that glow in the twilight so it’s a quick-fix to your decoration challenges. Just be sure to get lots of outdoor-grade extension cables to power your garlands. Or get rechargeable versions.
13. Gifting Table
A lot of us have family over for Christmas. But if you’re the type that has hundreds of people walking in and out this season, party favours can get expensive. So set up a little gift table on the porch. Pack it with pretty gift boxes and guests can grab one for a Christmas surprise as they leave. You can also encourage guests to bring gift boxes to exchange as they come in.
14. Christmas Corner
Contemporary homes often have a tiny spot on the balcony or back yard. It may have a view but is probably just a cosy corner strung with fairy lights and garden furniture. Turn the corner into a Christmas cubby by switching out your fairy lights for coloured ones. Just for the season.
15. Tiny Trinkets
Christmas decorations don’t have to be grand or exaggerated. Give the kids (and your inner adult children) a bit of a treasure hunt. Buy Christmas-themed trinkets, bracelet charms, or pendants in the form of snowflakes, miniature reindeer, bows, and baubles. Hang these around the house on potted plants, fence posts, random nails, switches, or branches. X marks the spot!
16. Christmas Wall
Kids (and adult artists with childlike hearts) love to draw on walls and blank surfaces. So turn one of your outdoor walls into a Christmas Canvas. You could erect white tarp for that specific reason, or whitewash one of your outer walls. Make a Christmas stencil for everyone to colour in. Use crayons, temporary spray cans, or water colours – anything that’s easy to wash off.
17. Christmas Bowl
Here’s an elegant Christmas garden idea. Set off a particular corner – you can mark it off with artificial turf or lawn edging. Nestle the area with moss and wickerwork, then use large ceramic bowls. Preferably white and preferably glossy. Fill the bowls with quirky holiday arrangements of cotton wool, pine needles, fir leaves, holly twigs, and Christmas berries e.g. rose hips.
18. Holly Hazel
Indoor Christmas décor is fragile and sparkly. Outside, you can get a bit more creative. In your Christmas Corner, nit everything has to be red. Add alternate colours that still yell Christmas. This alternative Christmas bowl veers towards golden yellow. The ceramic tumbler holds an arrangement of hazelnuts and glossy green leaves. Roast the hazelnuts for garden nibbling.
19. Petals in the Snow
For your window ledges, picket fences, and Christmas tables, a simple floral arrangement can bring out the seasonal ambience. Snowdrops are popular. Their long stems and delicate flowers add elegance to any holiday space. They also counter the louder Christmas ornaments. Place your blooms in tall vases of clear glass and position them where they won’t get knocked over.
20. Vintage Lighting
Christmas is all about candles and carols. But we have to be extra careful because Christmas scenes are filled with fire hazards. Consider buying some vintage-styles lanterns. The type with glass chimneys encased in wire cages. But instead of feeding the wick with kerosene, use the lantern as a wind-proof candle holder. Get larger candles with holiday scents and colours.
21. Rosy Remedy
Yes, Christmas colours are red, white, green, and silver – sometimes gold. But red roses are all wrong for the holidays – unless it’s a Yuletide proposal. So opt for white roses instead. Dot them with rose hips, pine needles, and holly branches. Ideally, use a bulbous, glossy, ceramic vase that won’t be overwhelmed by the fullness (or physical weight) of these pretty Christmas flowers.
22. Vintage Electrics
Most of us have migrated to LEDs. They’re safer, last longer, use less power, and are better for the environment. But for special occasions (like Christmas) you can splurge on vintage tungsten bulbs. Replace your outdoor lights with these clear filament bulbs and pair them with faux lanterns – they look like traditional oil lamps but they have LED chips as light sources.
23. Potted Plantwork
Here’s a grander idea to pull you away from those delicate florals. Get heavy planter in glossy black. Fill it with a dense arrangement of spruce branches, pine cones, and large Christmas baubles. Secure the baubles so they don’t fall off (or get tugged off by curious little hands). It could be a small tabletop flowerpot or a larger one that sits on the garden floor with accent light.
24. With Love and Kisses
You could herd your crush towards strategically placed mistletoe for a sneaky (but fully consensual) Christmas kiss. Or you could guide them to the stumpy makeshift snack table for a Christmas apple … and a bunch of mistletoe in a tall vase. You may have to label the mistletoe or your crush (and the rest of your guests) will wonder why you stuffed a bunch of leaves in a can.
25. Carvy Angels
For lovers of art and sculpture, Christmas is the perfect excuse to hire a few protective cherubs and spread them around the yard. You can buy temporary ones made of plastic, wax, or papier- mâché. Or can go all the way and have them carved from wood, stone, or concrete. These latter angels will stay outdoors all year round, so you can ‘dress’ them in holiday garments as needed.
26. Berry Merry Minis
If you don’t want the fuss of a large outdoor tree, miniatures are a good option. Get a handful of tiny trees and decorate them with outdoor ornaments like hardy baubles, pine cones, bows, and spruce twigs. You can also get large wicker baskets and fill them with ilex twigs and berries.
27. More Christmas Colours
Ditch he glossy ceramics and get a hardy terracotta planter. Fill it with hellebore, pine cones, and conifers. This is a living decoration so the plants are … planted rather than placed. You can position a Christmassy lantern next to the post as a form of seasonal accent lighting.
28. Floral Garlands
Christmas wreaths are assembled from holly, wire, and sometimes flowers. They’ll typically include a handful of berries. Turn that on its head by crafting a garland that’s primarily Christmas berries. Rose hips work well, so arrange them in a strong hollow frame. Hawthorne pairs well with rose hips, and you can use a wicker basket for alternative flower framing.
29. Pathways to Christmas
As we said when we began, some Christmas garden ideas are lavish and require months of planning. This is one. You’d have to either plant the trees early enough to bloom (and position them correctly) or hire a seasonal landscaper. The landscaper can bring the trees in for the season and arrange the garden lights then cart them away come January. It’ll cost you though.
30. Branch and Bauble
For a yard that’s browner and less green, turn your wintry twigs into décor. No leaves? No problem! String your Christmas lights along the bare branches. Craft a reindeer out of straw and branches (or buy one at the craft store) and ‘tether’ it to the tree for Christmas grazing. A few strategically placed Christmas bows (and maybe a red bulb for Rudolph’s nose) and you’re done.
31. Little Red Lanterns
The Christmas lanterns we’ve looked at so far were understated models with rustic appeal. But if you want your lights to stand out on the snowy landscape, buy bright red ones and hang them on outdoor branches. Make sure the lanterns are shielded from the wind and blow out the candles before bed to avoid accidental fires. Accent yard lights can keep the lanterns visible after dark.
32. Christmas Gazebo
They don’t have to be spruces or fir trees. Take your regular garden plants and ask your landscaper for Christmas garden ideas. Many will gladly offer Christmas topiary, trimming your hedges and shrubs into seasonal shapes and embellishing them with large bird-friendly baubles.
33. Glowing Globes and Flowers
For grassy back yards, strategically placed globe lights can bring out the Christmassy feel. Be sure they’re big enough to avoid accidental trampling. Dress the grass with bright poinsettias. Their crimson petals provide naturally Christmassy décor. But they have to bloom at the right time, so plan your planting (and weeding) if you want those red leaf-like flowers for Christmas.