By Jeff Ray

(CBSDFW.COM) – As the leaves fall and the summer growth withers under first freeze, there is much dislike about the deep winter. It is as if the land goes monochromatic, with browns, grays and tans to match the short days, low sun angle and melancholy feel. Some turn to light-therapy to counteract the dreariness of the cold season. Or you can get planting.

There are options of color in the cold season that can help brighten your yard during winter. Perhaps the biggest player in this limited selection are pansies. They originated in a cold climate and have been bred to present an incredible range of color. Put these in the ground in tight groups in strategic places in your yard (like next to the front door). When temperatures threaten to get below 20 degrees you can cover them at night with a sheet. If they get cold damage you can trim away some of the dead leaves and flowers and let them start up again.

Sweet Alyssum doesn’t have the breadth of color options but is a nice bright white flower that grows low to the ground. Great for edges in front of your small winter display.

If you have the space, try some dianthus. They are actually perennials that bloom in the cold season. During the summer you keep them cut back and watered. They come alive just as it starts cooling down.

Another great way to get a spectrum of greens, purples and maroons is to plant winter kale, cabbage or chard. There are ornamental cabbages breed for interesting colors and shapes. There are also several types of edible kales and chards that can survive through the cold season. Treat the cold threat the same as with your pansies.

I’m not a big turf person, in fact I have never watered my grass. It is a pathetic display in the warm season. But I have a lawn hack — I plant annual rye in late October. My lawn is lush green all the way through winter. Unless there is a drought you’ll likely never need to water it through the season. It’ll start to die in the first hot days of May. I just cut it short and let the last of the rye keep the spring weeds at bay.

I put in some pansies, kale and dianthus last weekend along the beds in the front yard. My part to give a little lift of color for myself and my neighbors in the dead of winter.

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