When it comes to exterior holiday décor, less is definitely more. The Griswold-esque house-lighting ceremony is long gone and homeowners are opting for a minimalist approach that embraces sustainability without sacrificing taste. Monochromatic color schemes and geometric shapes are all the rage and harken back to an eye-catching, simpler aesthetic.
According to Ed Furner, director of customer care at Mariani Landscape, there’s been a push among clients in recent years to extend the life of their gardens. Incorporating natural elements like the dried seed heads of coneflower and black-eyed Susans into container designs has become popular. Botanicals are in and if homeowners can harvest interesting pieces from their landscapes and find new ways to repurpose them into holiday designs, the ability to create something truly unique to them is at their fingertips. A spritz of gold spray paint on dried pomegranate and a dollop of hot glue to affix a stick to nestle it into a container arrangement ups the ante, adding spherical sparkle without having to resort to plastic baubles and trinkets.
Whether it’s dried hydrangea flowers spritzed with glitter paint or plumes of fountain grass placed strategically in a container design, the garden offers a wealth of possibilities with minimal cost.
“I think the client feels like they’re getting more out of their landscape and it’s aesthetically pleasing,” says Furner.
John Hoerst, merchandising manager and buyer at Chalet, says the botanical trend is becoming more popular at the front door too.
“Branches like red twig dogwood will hold their holiday color all winter,” says Hoerst. “Sometimes they’ll even root into a container and sprout leaves in the spring if left in place.”
A bundle of birch branches arranged in a galvanized container suits the minimalist palate. Traditional evergreen wreaths are commonplace and home- owners are opting for the less expected. Simplicity is key with single-element designs such as wreaths fashioned from twigs and adorned with sprigs of winterberry. Large glossy magnolia leaves, common in the south, are finding their way to Midwestern entries in the form of billowing wreaths and as design elements in container gardens.
Additionally, small evergreens like arborvitae and boxwood are bold and versatile centerpieces in the container garden. As a containerized design anchor, an evergreen is able to withstand harsh winter temperatures and can carry a variety of adornments as the seasons change. A simple underplanting of fall mums can be switched out for a holiday arrangement of dried flowers and twinkle lights.
Light It Up
Nothing says holiday more than string lights. According to Inside Energy, a group that studies energy usage, a home decked out in incandescent lights will add an additional $58.34 to the monthly electric bill. LED lighting has made high bills a thing of the past. When first introduced, the light was harsh but designers have made great strides in warming up the colors. According to Hoerst, the new lights are tough and able to withstand foot traffic. Set on a timer, waterproof cordless lights like those from Terrain, requiring just a few batteries, will give up to 45 days of glow. Hoerst suggests wrapping lights around logs or branches for a simple, yet sophisticated look. Glass lanterns filled with cordless fairy lights offer another low-cost option.
In the past, incandescent string lighting used outdoors had a brief lifespan, usually one season and then it was cut from trees and bushes and discarded. According to Furner, LED lights may cost more up front but clients are able to get many seasons out of them.
“For very little electrical usage, you can achieve an enchanted look with the twinkle or steady burn options on the LED lights,” says Hoerst. “Even without ornaments, a Christmas tree decorated with just these lights is outstanding.”
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