Autumn landscaping and decorating

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Autumn is a great time to landscape, and late fall is my preferred tree planting time. Many folks prefer seasonal landscaping and love fall decoration. It’s easy to appreciate the glorious fall colors. Perhaps one of the best parts of all is sitting around a firepit or a campfire on a cool clear evening. Brilliant blue skies and colorful trees add glory to the experience.

Now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the season. Sure, there’s falling leaves that may need your attention, but surely there’s also time to just enjoy relaxing, or taking a stroll, on a lovely cool day.

As the days get cooler, and the ground is warm, you have a perfect planting period—from grass seeds to shade trees and most things between. As soon as trees and shrubs drop leaves, you can dig and safely move many plants you wish to relocate. The cool air and warm soil provides a better experience for doing this than springtime for most tree and shrub species.

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As the days get shorter and the sun is at a lower angle in the sky, all landscaping chores become more pleasant. Building a retaining wall or digging a planting hole at 90 degrees is a grueling job, but at 70 it can actually be fun. Autumn is also a good time to replace or re-seed a yard. And since October is often the driest month, construction projects generally aren’t a muddy mess like they may be in spring.

For fall decorating, good quality at a good price is ideal. So many mums and pumpkins are purchased on the spur of the moment by impulse. Here’s an idea—if you’re not going to eat the pumpkins or other perishable decorations, perhaps you should consider fake pumpkins and gourds you can store and put out several seasons to give your budget a break. Either that, or consider decorating with apples, nuts and other fruits you’ll want to eat instead of throwing to the trash bin or the compost pile. A bushel of apples could easily garner the appreciation that pumpkins and squash do for fall displays.

Containers, especially attractive large urns or pots, can be a quick solution to sprucing up a landscape in fall. Depending on what you plant in them, you may be able to have lovely plants blooming past frosts and freezes. Pansies, kale and sedums can look good long after the petunias and vinca are frozen.

Statues, fountains, large boulders and birdbaths are some landscaping items that can bring a quick improvement to your place. The comfortable chair or bench by a fire pit can add much to the landscape quite easily. 

If you can, grow a few fruiting plants you or the birds can eat. That’s a trend that may be here to stay. There’s something to be said for replacing a Bradford pear with a tree that bears delicious fruits but still looks good in the yard. Add some evergreen trees, or other trees that have nice fall colors if you’re hoping to give the yard some zip. Try to be creative and make landscape choices that are different from the other houses in the neighborhood. 

The author is a landscaper. Feedback welcome. rockcastles@gmail.com