As the air turns crisp and leaves become a variety of rich, warm hues, it’s time to enjoy autumn outdoors. Don’t hang up your gardening gloves just yet — we have tips from the pros on what to do in your garden this fall.
While most look forward to the change of season and beautiful fall colors, avid green thumbs sometimes feel a slight disappointment in the lack of gardening options available during fall (picking up leaves is not on the top of our list for fun gardening activities). Luckily we have Chris and Peyton Lambton from HGTV’s Going Yard here to share their secrets for getting outdoors this autumn and enjoying your fall garden a few more months.
Best plants for fall foliage
Summer isn’t the only season when bright perennial flowers reign supreme. To have showstopping fall foliage every year, Chris recommends planting sunflowers: “I have a couple varieties in my garden. They look beautiful right now, and they give you great height of about 5–6 feet.”
For additional color, the Lambtons have sedums, which are on the verge of blooming any day now, because “they give a great deep pink or red in the fall, which adds to your flower garden.”
Don’t overlook the power of a simple white flower, which can look stunning against a dark green background of evergreens or other greenery. The Lambtons have Montauk daisies in their yard, and while they aren’t blooming quite yet, when they do, they’ll provide a lovely display of white flowers.
Fall decor outdoors
Interested in bringing a quick boost of color to your space? Check out popular annual plants for fall for an easy update to the garden. Peyton likes using mums and ornamental kale for easy seasonal flair. They provide color that will last well into the fall without the maintenance involved in perennial plants. For easy and affordable fall outdoor decor, Peyton likes decorating their patio and porch with planters filled with mums, saying they provide “instant color and are cheap and hearty.”
See more of Chris and Peyton Lambton’s tips for outdoor decor >>
Fall vegetable garden
You don’t have to give up those fresh salads you enjoyed eating all summer just yet. Fall can be an even better season for growing cool-weather crops like lettuce, kale and broccoli, among others.
“For my veggie garden, I just did a second lettuce planting that should give me some good salad crop up until the first frost,” Chris explains. “Carrots, garlic, potatoes all grow well into the fall and give you a good late harvest as well.” Consult your local planting schedule or gardening extension office to see what grows best in your area. If you’re lucky, you could be enjoying homegrown carrots for Thanksgiving.
What to plant?
While spring and early summer are more common seasons for establishing new plants, there is one task in particular that should be reserved for autumn.
“Fall is a great time for the planting and splitting of larger perennials,” Chris tells us. “The weather is optimal, with cooler nights and warm days and a heavy early-morning dew. This is the time I split my hydrangeas, ornamental beach grasses and favorite flowers — black-eyed Susans and iris.”
Gardening on a budget? Consider swapping some perennials with a neighbor. The plants are likely already acclimated to your climate, and you’ll be able to diversify your garden without spending a dime.
Get Chris Lambton’s advice for sprucing up your yard >>
“Ugh, do I really have to rake leaves?”
Sure, frolicking with the kids in a pile of fallen leaves might sound like the picturesque autumn afternoon — until you realize who has to clean up that mess (you!). Luckily Chris has a few tips for tackling this dreaded fall cleanup chore. “Those pesky leaves start falling, but they are actually good for the garden.”
Don’t start doing the happy dance yet. While you don’t have to spend endless hours raking leaves, Chris recommends at least moving them over to particular locations in the yard. “I clean them off my lawn, as they are acidic and cause the lawn to yellow, but leave them in my planting beds until spring,” he explains. “The leaves provide a nice blanket for the bulbs and other perennials from the cold winter, and will break down and add a natural fertilizer.”
If you have a compost pile going, you can also add shredded leaves to the bin during fall so that it is ready to use come spring.
Best places to see fall foliage
If you’re looking to see more signs of autumn than what’s in your own backyard, consider taking a trip up to the East Coast. The Lambtons love visiting Vermont or New Hampshire. “Best foliage in the world and apple picking… Need I say more?” notes Chris.
Having a fall wedding outdoors? See the Lambtons’ tricks for affordable backyard wedding decor.
Watch: How to grow seeds inside
In this episode, learn how to effectively grow seeds indoors.