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20 Easy Winter Gardening Ideas and Projects

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With a chill in the air and shorter days, it’s easy to assume that gardening is a luxury reserved for the summer months. Surprisingly, though, there are plenty of ways to get creative in the garden throughout the winter. From growing houseplants to creating mini terrariums to planting veggies, there are plenty of fun ideas and projects that will make this time of year both interesting and rewarding. 

Let’s explore the ways you can keep your garden growing despite the cold and brief days of winter. We’ll go over easy steps to prepare your garden for winter and provide some great winter garden ideas and projects that you can do to keep your garden looking its best all-season-long. Many of these projects are also great for late fall or early spring when some areas may have a longer cold season. 

The benefits of gardening

Did you know there are many health benefits to gardening? Winter brings not just cooler weather, but also seasonal blues for some people. Gardening can help to keep your mind and body engaged and active, helping to stave off those feelings the cooler months can bring. For a full article on how gardening benefits your health, check out this piece from The Mayo Clinic  and then get busy gardening with any of these ideas below!

Winter Gardening Projects

For the DIYer or the one who likes to keep busy outdoors during cold weather, here are some fun projects for those winter months. These will give your vegetable garden a head start or allow you to extend the fall garden. 

  1. DIY Cold Frame (Mini-Greenhouse)If you want to extend your fall garden season into the winter and have fresh greens and lettuces into late winter, then consider building this easy DIY Cold Frame. Use either on top of a raised bed or over an area of row garden or even over some containers. I even use mine to start seeds in the early spring. The possibilities are endless!
mini greenhouse
  1. DIY Straw Bale Cold Frame (The Reid Homestead): If you’d rather skip framing out a cold frame, then consider this DIY gardening project to grow all kinds of winter plants. The straw bales are the side supports and old windows allow the light and heat to warm up the space. This is a great idea if you don’t want something permanent. 
  2. Winter Sowing in Milk Jugs (The Reid Homestead): Get a jump start on starting your garden plants by using the winter sowing method. This is a great way for those who live in cooler zones to get a head start on the spring without much work or indoor space. Our zone is a little too warm for this particular method (those random 70 degree December weeks would have everything sprouting!), but it’s wonderful for those in the right areas. 
  1. Winter Flowers to PlantWinter is absent from all blooms and color. There are some flowers that chase away those winter blues with their beautiful colors. Check out this list of flowers that actually grow quite well in the winter and then visit your local nursery to see what works best in your zone!
  2. How to Winterize the Garden​If you want to take a bit of time off in the winter, it’s a good idea to winterize your garden beds or area before you hibernate for the rest of the season. The early winter is the perfect time to put your soil to rest, and these 3 easy steps will have your soil resting and rejuvinating all winter long!
  3. Homemade Bird Feeders​All kinds of different birds arrive and stick around for the winter. These different homemade bird feeders are easy to put together and delicious for your backyard feathered friends; plus, many of them use supplies you probably already have laying around. 
DIY Bird feeder

Indoor Winter Plant Projects

If you’d rather keep your gardening to the indoors this winter, it’s still a great time to garden on a smaller scale. Here are some fun winter gardening projects to keep your hands busy and your home filled with plants!

  1. Easy Succulent Terrarium (Mom Advice): Succulents are some of the lowest maintenance plants out there, and creating a lovely terrarium to enjoy them is the best thing for any small space. Grab this easy tutorial on how to create one at home!
  2. DIY Tin Succulent Planter: If you have an old tin laying around, this can make the perfect display for succulents as well! Grab some succulents from your local garden center, or ask a friend of some volunteers, and you’ll be ready to go for this easy diy craft. 
tin with succulents planted inside
  1. Grow Spinach Indoors​(Simple Living Country Gal) Did you know that that there are vegetables that can be grown indoors all winter long? It’s true, and spinach and other lettuces are good examples of plants that grow well indoors in the proper conditions. Try your hand at growing tasty spinach indoors this winter!
  2. How to Force Bulbs: Very common with paperwhite narcissus, forcing blubs to bloom indoors has been a winter indoor gardening activity for decades (possibly longer!). In the colder months, it’s lovely to have fresh blooms indoors to cheer up just about any space, and they’re actually quite easy to force!
  3. DIY Hanging Succulent Planter:​ Want a fun way to display succulents? Try this hanging succulent planter that is made with just a few supplies, most available at your local dollar store. This planter is beautiful and functional, especially for any trailing succulents. 
blue ceramic bowl in embroidery hoop as a hanging succulent planter
  1. DIY Magnolia Wreath: ​Looking to put green magnolia leaves to good use this winter? Use them to create a handmade magnolia wreath to grace any door on your home. Easy to put together and needing few supplies, this project is perfect for a few hours on a winter day and will stay green for months. 
  2. Tomato Cage Christmas Tree:​ Another way to use garden (or yard) waste in a winter project is to take any tree trimmings to create this DIY Tomato Cage Christmas Tree. It’s a perfect way to use those tomato cages that just sit over the winter and use up any limb trimmings you can find. 
tomato cage christmas tree

More Winter Gardening Ideas

Still need more garden activities for your winter landscape or winter garden space? Here are some great ideas that will keep you busy all winter long, whether it’s adding to your outdoor spaces, planting cool season vegetables, or preparing for next year, these ideas will keep you inspired. 

  1. What to Grow in a Winter Vegetable Garden: Not sure what winter vegetables to grow in your garden during the cold growing season? Here are a list of cold hardy vegetables, from greens to root vegetables, that will help you grow your own food, even when temperatures dip low. My garden is growing something all year long. Some years that’s just garlic and collards in the winter, but there’s always something. Find out what you can grow!
  2. 10 Tips for Winter Gardening ​(Ann’s Entitled Life): Looking for ideas and tips for your winter garden? Check out this post from Ann’s Entitled Life for all kinds of tips to help you and your garden this winter. 
  3. How to Grow Black Beans Indoors  (An Off Grid Life): If you’re looking to step up your indoor food growing this winter, then consider growing black beans indoors. While not considered a winter vegetable, these tender plants can grow indoors and provide nutritious beans for your family.
  1. Build your own raised beds:The winter is a perfect time to create new gardens through building solid raised beds. I have several instructional posts for how to build raised bed gardens, and you can check them out below:
    1. Easy Cedar Raised Bed: A simple design that doesn’t have to be built with cedar. Four boards and that’s it!
    2. DIY Raised Garden BedThis bed has a flat top edge and finished corners. It’s a more advanced design, and makes a beautiful addition to any backyard or garden space. 
  2. Build Your Own Rain Barrel: While you won’t be building the barrel itself, you can take the winter to put together a rain collection system from a large container, spout diverter, and a lid. My DIY Rain Barrel Tutorial is easy to follow, and we have loved having a water supply on hand for our garden!
  3. Subscribe to Seed Catalogs: ​Sometimes being inspired may be the only thing that gets you through the dull winter months. I highly recommend subscribing to a few free seed catalogs if you haven’t already. These catalogs start arriving in mailboxes in January, and they can be so much fun to look at! Get inspiration for what to grow in spring, see new plants, and read helpful articles, all from the comfort of your home. See my full post about The Best Free Seed Catalogs to get your name on their mailing lists!

With these 20 winter gardening ideas and projects, you can turn the coldest season of the year into a season of growth and beauty. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced green thumb, winter gardening can provide an excellent way to refresh, rejuvenate, and relax all season long. So start planning your winter garden projects today in order to reap the rewards of the growth and beauty that will come your way. As the old adage goes, “The best time to start a garden is yesterday.” 

Have other ideas that get you through the winter gardening slump? Be sure to share them below!

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