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Preparing Your Yard for Fall

This past weekend, I hosted a brunch for a group of close friends — I’d been looking forward to it for a month and a half! As I prepared for this end-of-summer gathering, I scanned my home and yard to see which areas needed improvement. Let’s just say…my yard required some help. After all, with summer temps reaching 100 degrees and higher, several plants had not survived, despite my watering efforts. And then there was the little plant that had been uprooted and carried away by a ground squirrel. Not to mention, the weeds were out of control!

String lights brighten the evening

I realized that with fall on the way, now was the perfect time to do a little freshening up. Today’s post is dedicated to the power of the late summer yard makeover. After all, cooler temps will be here soon, making outdoor dining a reality again (which is a big deal if you live in a part of the world where summers involve avoiding the outdoor heat as much as possible). How do you make your yard hospitable for plants and people as fall approaches? Today I’ll share some of my summer outdoor projects with you, but don’t forget to share your ideas as well by leaving a comment at the end of the post!

Assess Your Yard for Problem Areas

I began my late summer yard update by assessing the area for problems. Our grass was green overall, but we’d worked hard to maintain it while being respectful of our city’s watering restrictions. The biggest issues in our outdoor space involved dead plants that needed to be cleared, weeds that needed to be pulled, and neglected areas that needed a little bit of freshening up.

Assessing your yard for problem areas

As you eye your outdoor space, don’t forget to pay attention to all areas of the yard, even those that do not involve grass. Weeds and overgrown plants can plague rocky pathways as well, and sometimes it can be helpful to remove stray pebbles and reinforce the border between gravel and lawn. Or between gravel and other gravel, as shown below…

Stepping stones on a gravel path

Also assess the overall health of your vegetation. Are there nearby weeds that could interfere with the growth of your plants? Are there potted plants that are not thriving in their location? Are there simple changes you can make so your plants will flourish?

Blue agave plant

Some of these changes may involve moving plants to a new location. For example, if your plants are on shelves, perhaps the most sun-tolerant selections should be on the top shelf. We had a top shelf plant that clearly didn’t make it through the 100 degree days. Hey–you learn from your mistakes, right?! On the upside, as you can see below, the plants we’d placed in cinder blocks were flourishing in their full-sun location!

Healthy plants in pots and cinder blocks

Tend to the Lawn, Graveled Sections and Pathways

You’re now aware of what needs to be done… Time to get busy! However, don’t assume that all problem areas require the need for immediate action. For example, our lawn is zoysia, and it will be dormant in the winter. Since it’s already the end of summer, we don’t plan on filling in any gaps or dead spots at this point. That’s what spring is for, right?

Stepping stones and zoysia grass in an outdoor space

However, our graveled areas were in need of some help. An abundance of weeds had taken hold, and some of our natural-toned pebbles had meandered onto our dark pathways filled with basalt gravel. Not a crisis at all, but a cleanup was in order. Weeding accomplished and gravel re-positioned!

Lawn and graveled areas in a backyard space

Refresh and Beautify Pots and Planters

With the lawn and graveled areas in better shape, it was now time to focus on the “fun stuff”–the potted plants! And there’s nothing I love more than healthy potted greenery…

Succulent in a blue pot

Now is also a great time to give your outdoor table a lush centerpiece. In fact, as you can see below, we have a mint green container of succulents on our outdoor dining table, and this low-maintenance collection of plants has been a true joy. Aside from clearing out acorns and stray leaves, the plant required little work. But others were in need of some TLC…

Planter of succulents

One of my big summer projects involved painting our large terracotta planters a deep shade of gray. This created a modern look that was a cool-toned contrast to the plethora of beige and wooden hues in the other portions of the yard. Plus, there’s nothing like a healthy foxtail fern in a sleek modern planter, right?!

Foxtail fern in a gray planter

Speaking of modern planters, you may discover that some of your plants have outgrown their containers. Our gray planter out front was completely hidden by an overgrown fern that was clearly in need of more container space. So I gently transferred it to another planter and filled the one below with an autumn fern and a cascading ground cover. Now you can see the planter, but there’s still a “wild” look that contrasts the clean lines of the pot. Plus, since it’s out front, it’s a great way to welcome guests to our home!

Autumn fern in a gray pot

Add Fall Color

Ready for a dose of color? One of my favorite ways to embellish an outdoor space with bright tones is through the use of vivid potted plants. And a new season calls for a new selection… My dear friend Katherine gifted me with this beautiful red pot of gerbera daisies. The fall tones are irresistible, and the contrast of the fiery-hued blooms with the plant’s green leaves is striking, don’t you think?

Gerbera daisies in a red pot

As you add greenery to your outdoor space, make sure you pay attention to the contrast of tones between the different plants in your yard. Below we see the tops of my fountain grass plant, complete with dark burgundy and wheat shades. I love the way they look against the backdrop of the lime green, mint green and Kelly green vegetation that surrounds them…

Fountain grass is a low-maintenance option

Another great fall selection: a croton. The leaves of this plant are filled with reds, oranges and yellows, not to mention greens. In this next image, we see a close-up of my newly planted croton plant. We’re hoping it survives in the ground this winter. I’ll keep you posted…

The gorgeous leaves of the croton plant

Beautify Your Patio

Don’t forget to give your patio the same level of attention that you give to the yard itself. And this may involve updating your outdoor seating, especially if the past year has been hard on your chairs. Mine were definitely in need of an update. These chairs are close to my heart, as I used to sit in then as a kindergartener in my grade school library! When the chairs were later sold after some of the school’s furniture was replaced, my mom bought 8 of them–4 for me and 4 for my brother. For their latest makeover, I sprayed them down with Rust-Oleum paint in a shade of matte silver.

Spray-painted chair frame

Next I reupholstered the seat cushions in a shade of slate. Yes, this was part of my plan to add more cool tones to my outdoor space! Recovering the chairs involved little more than purchasing vinyl fabric and using a staple gun to secure it to the seat cushions. An easy project that can be done in a day or two…

Refurbished vintage chair

With my patio seating in better shape and the string lights hanging overhead, the yard was finally taking shape. For me, preparing for fall involved giving the yard a face lift in anticipation of the many hours that will be spent outside as the weather cools down. There are still some other changes I’d love to make, but for now, everyone here is happy. Including kitty!

Pre-fall cleanup in a backyard space

What are some of the ways that you prepare your yard for fall? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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