Fall is your last opportunity to enjoy your outdoor garden living and to hold on a bit longer to the playful warm-cool temperature. And so is another reason to update your garden. Along with falling leaves, are the summer and spring plants beginning to fade away as they prepare for dormant winter seasons. But not to fret, this is not an offseason for your landscape, but fall is merely a beautiful transition you should take advantage of.
Although cooler temperatures mean slower growth for your plants, you can still expect gains. Fall is the best time to try out other beautiful plants. This season is also an opportunity to emphasize your other landscape features. With the right combinations and several techniques, you can create a beautiful scenic landscape suit for the fall season. Here are some creative ideas to keep your garden in tip-top shape.
Time to Trim Your Grass Low
As the weather turns cool, grass roots and rhizomes grow quickly. Once they reached their full growth, they turn yellow and pale over time. Lowering your lawn mower blade to about 1 ¾ inch will keep the grass growing and healthy looking.
More Reasons to Trim Grass
- During fall, the cool humidity also creates moisture that encourages mildew on grasses which causes those yellow to brown patches on your lawn. But shorter grass blades will likely get infected with these fungal diseases and will keep your lush of carpet healthy and beautiful looking.
- You will find raking autumn leaves more difficult with larger blades of grass. Leaves tend to get stuck on the blades as the large height of the grass clench on it more. But with a well-trimmed lawn, you’ll find raking leaves a seeming effortlessly chore.
- Weeds like most of any grasses likely grow at the autumn season, making mowing more of a must-to-do chore during fall. In addition, you need to apply herbicide, so weeds won’t return next spring.
Fall with its cooler temperature is the ideal time to fully upkeep your lawn. It is this time when the grassroots are in their energy-absorbing mode due to a cooler temperature. The condition makes it an ideal time to aerate lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the grassroots.
Continue to water and mow your lawn, as needed, throughout fall. Then as the season ends, you can drop the mower’s blade to its lowest setting. This method will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, preventing those unattractive brown patches on your lush of carpet.
Contrast Warm and Cool When Planting
The warm and energetic color is apparent in fall. The seasonal change can lead to clashes if individual plants change to a color that does not harmonize with other plants. Building on the same idea, it would be a waste to place all the warm-colored fall flowers together in a bed unless you are aiming for a formal vibe. Contrasting warm with cool is a rule of thumb ideal for this setup.
Why contrast warm and cool? Given any setting, warm colors stand out. Thus, utilizing too much of these vibrant colors in your garden becomes too overpowering and can really be an eyesore at times. The eyes need something ‘cooler’ to rest into, like that of cool colors. Incorporating a contrast between these two hues will add balance to your landscape and create a colorful and exciting array of beauty for your you and your guest’s viewing pleasure.
What are warm and cool colors and how do you apply it in landscaping? Warm colors, typified by red, orange, and yellow (or varying shades in between) is contrasted when put up next to cool colors, such as blue, greens and violets (or combinations of these hues). You can use this method when planting by color. For example, the coral pastels of Dr. Salter’s hybrid will appear more vibrant alongside the blue spikes of Sunny Borders Blue. Or a bright yellow bright California Poppies can be mixed along with purple Bachelor’s Button to make a beautiful mix of groundcovers. Combinations of these warm and cool-colored plants will balance out the look of your garden.
Other Uses of Contrasting Colors in Landscaping
- Using the same method of contrasting the colors, you can create an illusion of distance. Plant warm-colored species towards the front to bring a focus appears closer than it really is. From there you can make a gradual change by concentrating on cooler-colored plants as you draw closer to the backspace. This will create depth and make your landscape dimension seemingly larger.
- Or you can use varieties cool-colored plant species alone to evoke calm and serenity. The warm coloration expressed by fall in your landscape is a good backdrop for blue, purple, pink and white perennials. It’s a good time to make a garden of cool shades of perennials during this season because they will visibly stand out with fall’s bold vibrant background. You can mix it up with a meadow of natural-blendedgrass like Miscanthus, blue fescue, and fountain grass to create a full calming haven.
Spruce up Your Landscaping With Fall Flowers for Visual Interest
It’s a given fact that flowering bearing plants can add a lot of color to your fall landscaping. But beyond color appeal are flower’s texture and form can add visual interest to your landscape.
What are the ‘forms’ and ‘texture’ in plants? Forms take place in plants through shapes. Plants develop different shapes as they grow. Some have narrow, upright look, while others are mounted. Shapes work like colors and needed contrasting to achieve that visual interest. For instance, a mound-shaped plant like Silver Mound will give you a good counterpoint when plant next to a spiky plant such Dracaena. Textures, on the other hand, are mainly visual matters that cannot be separated from forms It is dependent upon the form of the blooms or foliage of the plant. Besides color, both texture and form should be the factors needed to be considered when choosing outdoor plants.
What to plant? It’s mum planting time for the fall season. Chrysanthemums or aptly referred to as mums are popular during the fall season. They carry out the season with their classic autumn hues of orange, gold, russet, and bronze. But not everyone prefers this traditional fall color scheme. Some prefer pinkish-purple mums over other colors, which is also a charm.
Other flowering fall plants include a variety of annuals, bulbs, and perennials. Among the cool-season annuals that work well in the fall-flowering garden are snapdragons, pot marigolds, and pansies. Bulbs such as toad lilies, autumn crocus, and cyclamen also do well. These plants bloom throughout fall and some of them can even spruce up till winter.
Fall planting should not be just limited to flower-bearing plants. Trees and shrubs make a good addition too. They are great for boosting not only landscape’s color but also shape and texture. Japanese maples and witch hazels bring a brilliant fall foliage. Spruce up some Virginia rose and blue rambler on your rose bushes. The color of this foliage can be further enhanced when placed among the background and evergreens.
Don’t forget ornamental berries. They generally reach their peak during fall, so they are great in adding texture, volume, and color. Berries, for instance, ripen in fall and supply additional color and interest with shades of red, yellow and purple.
- Bonus tip: Take advantage of plant sales in the late season! Cheap flowers can be found in July and August. Gardens shop normally tries to unload leggy annuals that they could not sell in spring, and so they slash off prices. As the summer wears on, fewer and fewer garden shops will be carrying your favorite annuals. That is why you should shop plants no later than early August while they are still in stock.
When to plant? Knowing when is the right time to plant is important for a successful fall landscaping. Contrary to other’s belief, you shouldn’t wait for fall itself to plant, unless you live in a warm climate. Planting them in fall gives you little time to enjoy them. However, a late August planting would still subject your plant to too much heat-stress. Wait for the temperature to cool down a bit. Some summers, a rainy period arrives in mid-to-late August, gives you the perfect opportunity for planting.
Where can you spruce up fall plants? If growing ornamental plants have been your passion, fall is the perfect time to fill your landscape with a rainbow of ornamental plants in your favorite fall color. Start off with the front yard. Nothing’s more inviting than the sight and scent of the flower blooming plants like roses, wisteria and jasmine and some climbers around entrance, fence or gates. Place planters filled with varying colors of mums on steps for a warm welcoming path.
Have some plants spilling over the walkway edge to give the landscape an established, lush feel. Groundcovers such as creeping thyme between pavers add a charm to your walk path and are fragrant to walk on. A mix of shrubs and ornamental grasses can give a curb appeal to your sidewalk. A large swash of stout perennials deserves a spot in the front row too, along with beds and walkways and in containers. Add irresistible festive berries right to a shrub or perennial border for a unique variety of plant.
Don’t forget to fill up your garden bed with exciting arrays of petal-filled blooms. Pendulous flowers like pansies are great for hanging baskets. Just avoid putting too many species in one bed, as overcrowding can result in poor growth of your flowering plants. And of course, include the essence of the fall which is vibrant autumn leaves. Maple and deciduous trees like bald cypress will look good in your front and back yard.
There’s a fine line as to how many species you can include in your landscape. Too many species and types can make an impression of unplanned and messy landscape design. A good rule of thumb is no more than five to 10 species of perennials, three to five types of shrubs and vines and one to two types of trees. Repetition of plants through species, color, size, and texture can hold together a well-kept landscape.
Get Creative With Autumn Leaves
The raking and bagging of autumn leaves, week after week until the last leaf has fallen seems to be an endless chore. But why make so much work for yourself when there are simple ways to use them in your landscape.
Compost leaves. Autumn leaves which have been shredded by lawn mowers are dream additions to gardener’s compost pile. Decaying leaves are a great source of the high carbon material for the compost. Simply alternate layers of shredded leaves to your compost pile to the plants you pull out in your fall garden clean-up. Let it sit for a period and by planting time you’ll have a finished compost.
Make leaf mold. Leaf molds are wonderful soil amendment made from nothing more than autumn leaves with the occasional layer of garden soil or finished compost. Let it sit for about a year and when it’s ready, you’ll have that perfect amendment for flower gardens as well as potting soils.
Create mulch and add it to plant beds for color. Shredded autumn leaves added with pine or other wood-type ground covers bark make a great mulch. They can be spread around flower beds or container gardens. They are great additions under trees and shrubs too. Simply apply two to three-inch layer of the shredded leaves to the beds, keeping the mulch directly touching the trunks of the plants. Mulch add nutrients to the soil, and as a bonus, it brightens your landscaping.
Create a Garden Escape
After you’ve completed all your fall landscape chores, you will need a place to relax. Also, fall is the last season to enjoy outdoor living, in the last few weeks of refreshing cool temperature. Updating your garden into a trendy outdoor living for fun outdoor activities like barbecue grilling can make the most of your landscape space. But whether an outdoor trendy living or peaceful retreat that you are after, you must first find that perfect spot retreat in the comfort of your garden. Here are some ideas on how to mix landscaping with leisure.
An Outdoor Patio Ready for Party. Turn your front porches and back patios into a useful outdoor living space. With a few additions sitting area, possibly a grilling area or firepits, you can host social gatherings. If you have a large space, take advantage of it. Have an outdoor kitchen to make your work easier. You can set up picnic tables too and throw in a few rugs and some candles. This a perfect setup for entertainment in the long fall days while enjoying the view of your garden.
A Peaceful Cozy Retreat. It’s common to find a ‘thinking bench’ amid any elaborative garden. But you can also use what you have. In fact, any old chairs or new chairs or even a tied-up hammock will give you something to sit into while viewing your garden to your heart’s content. It’s all about how you pull up the look. You can add few types of furniture like ottomans, or something to rest your feet in, possibly while reading a favorite book and sipping tea. By incorporating a simple sitting area, you can have a place to relax in while connecting with nature, especially if you place it near water features like ponds or fountain.
A Romantic Dining Area in the Garden. What’s a perfect way to have a romantic dinner with your loved one than with a pleasing view of the garden? In any case, a romantic space is enclosed or sectioned off. The space can be created using a pergola, a seated or swinging Arbor, a gazebo, trellis panels or small cottage. Pergolas with partially enclosed curtains are popular for romantic setup. Spruce up some climbing roses to encourage the theme more. If a secluded space is just an option, you can lay out any dining area on any hardscapes like decks or patios. A candle-lit table will dab hand throwing perfect dinner for two.
Block a Portion of Your Garden for a Hidden Sanctuary
When you create a landscaping design that hides a portion of your backyard or garden, you create an opportunity for the imagination to flow. You will make one wonder what lies behind the hidden view. Although brick walls can do the trick, a natural partition or transition leading to your landscape sanctuary is more appealing. This is also a perfect setup for fall landscaping as you need something to protect you from the cooler breeze, be it trees or decorative materials. Below are some of the techniques and materials you can use to block a part of your landscape.
Using Shrubs and Trees. Covering the certain area with greenery, instead of divider or screens will add depth and help fashion separate sub-themes running throughout your design. For instance, you can use large shrubs or small trees to cover certain areas of your yard. Since you can’t see the entire yard from one spot, you create the sense that your garden goes beyond than it really is.
Using Ornamentals. Give your yard a better a block view by growing your favorite plants in raised beds or berms. You will be surprised at how much secluded your yard feels by mounding the soil enough to add a floor or two to your plants’ height. In addition, it puts medium size plants at eye level. Another method is by layering plantings to form pockets so you won’t be able to spot a section of your yard. The gradual layers can feel like you’re getting away from it all without going anywhere.
Using Decorative Panels. Wood slat partitions and partially enclosed pergolas are effective in blocking a view and nice to look at. For something more decorative, you can use climbing vines or espalier shrubs into the added cover. It doesn’t need to be a large piece of panel, you can get creative and divide into sub-blocks. The custom pieces with the decorative vines can also act as an interesting focal point.
Using Curtains. For a more secluded setting, add outdoor curtains to your pergola. They are easy to move when not in use and can help add decor to your scenic landscape.
Lattice Fence. If you feel a little claustrophobic at the idea of brick walls and other partition panels, a lattice is your bet. It’s an ideal way to add enclosure without closing off your yard too much. What’s more, a lattice fence is perfect for showcasing climbing roses or your favorite vines.
Rely on Other Landscape Features
Fall is the best time to weave additional elements and enhance other existing structures in your landscape design. You can always complement your wondrous landscape with garden decor items and structures that will add up a personal touch to your yard.
Water Features. Appeal to the natural senses by adding water features. A one of a kind water fountain can integrate seamlessly into any landscape. A pool feature doesn’t have to take over a landscape, you can incorporate one with a curvy design to fit your space or add a mini resort pool spa boxy to small spaces. Koi ponds are a perfect attraction. Have some water plants and beautiful stone edge arrangement as well as varieties of fish to keep your pond interesting. For smaller scale, you can explore unique container or oversized galvanized tubs. Add height and structure by filling it water and incorporating water plants such as water lilies. Group complementary containers of various sizes for a striking water focal point.
Garden Bridge. If you are lucky enough to have a natural stream or artificial pond in your yard, a captivating garden bridge is an absolute must. It brings both functionality and beauty to the landscape. Space is not a constraint as even the smallest gardens can feature a tiny bridge that can become a potential point of the setting. Top it off with lighting features like LEDs to create a surreal setting that will play host to some memorable evening gatherings.
Edible Landscape. Apart from flower-filled garden beds, vegetables, fruits, and herbs are also not hard to fit into existing beds. Besides providing tasty produce, many edibles are gorgeous and will beautify your landscape. Cool season plants such as lettuce and other leafy vegetables that belong in the salad family can make nice edging plants. Ornamental cabbage and kale are also popular. Blueberries with their spring flowers, tasty fruits, and exceptional fall color make great hedge plants. Nut trees are also a great addition. Just remember that in planting edibles, you don’t need to grow them in straight rows like how a formal vegetable garden does. Plant in graphic, pleasing patterns, leaving enough space between plants to avoid crowding but close enough to create a dense appearance and shade out weeds.
Garden Obelisks and Trellises. Garden obelisks and trellises, especially those made of ladders are an extraordinary addition to outdoor gardens. They make the most out of your landscape space and add charm. You can showcase your favorite ornamentals without having to use much of the ground space. With a little bit of creativity, like mixing floral arrangement on it or grouping them in configurations, it can stand out as other landscape structures.
Firepits and Fireplaces. Liven up your fall landscaping design by adding a fireplace to your yard. Fire pits are great to keep you and your visiting relatives warm as the holiday season approaches. Other beautiful fireplace design you may want to consider includes fire tables and torches or torch cages.
Your Next Step Is to Gear-Up Your Yard for the Next Seasons
Make a conscious effort to enjoy your autumn yard to the fullest by carrying out the mentioned well-thought plans. But also remember, that there’s much work to be done to prepare your yard for next seasons. Much of the work during fall is directed toward getting landscapes cleaned up and ready for winter. Whatever landscape maintenance practiced prior to the onset of winter will ensure a healthier landscape for the following spring. So, there’s really no time slacking off. Your attitude toward fall landscaping says a lot about how much of a landscape enthusiast you really are.