Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of annuals…at any time of the year really. They’re an added cost…and frankly, I’m really not into the extra work they require – planting them and then taking care of them…waaah! And with fall approaching…as the days are getting cooler and shorter…and my yard starts to slip into its long winter’s nap…I’m tempted to take a nap myself. But…buuuuttt…I have to admit, adding a few strategically placed fall annuals (or better yet…some perennials) to your outdoor spaces can really make a big difference. They can bring an otherwise boring, dormant spot back to life. Which really is a good thing.
So give yourself a little slap on the face and wake up to consider the following suggestions for extending the life of your outdoor spaces…through the fall and into winter.
Strategically Place Fall Annuals…and Perennials
Again, I’m not a big fan of annuals…which is why I try to utilize evergreens and perennials whenever and wherever I can. However, adding a few strategically placed fall annuals…mixed in with some perennial flowers, can really go a long way. And what I mean by strategically placed is…simply putting a pop of fall color here and there in the pots, flower boxes, or annual beds immediately outside your door…as well as where you look outside the most – for example, out your kitchen window. Not only will you be refreshed, you will also be sending the message to your guests that you’re not only awake, but that you’re glad they’ve stopped by…vs. the message that’s sent by dead flowers, dirt and an occasional spider web… “Go away…I really don’t want to see you!”
Here are a few suggested fall annuals & perennials:
- Garden Mums: I almost didn’t include mums on my list, because they’re so expected…so everywhere. But I ended up putting them at the top of the list because you really can’t get a hardier flower that comes in as many fall colors as the classic mum. Suppliers have even made it easier by selling them in fairly attractive containers…that you can literally buy and then plop down on your porch when you come home from the store. If you don’t think you can do much more than that, I’d really recommend your picking up a few pre-potted mums and putting them just outside your back door. But if you’re up for more…with their impressive displays of flowers, they make quite a statement when planted en masse.
- Pansies: Another annual that provides you a whole host of color options is the pansy (which by the way, is a hybrid of the viola). Their colors may not be as fall-ish as mums, but if you’re looking for an even brighter pop of color with an annual that has great cold-tolerance, try pansies. Add a few to your containers or a large wave of them in your annual beds and you’ll be sure to liven things up.
- Asters: Although their flowers won’t last as long as pansies’ will, I’d still highly recommend adding some asters to your garden’s blooming palette. Their delicate daisy-like flowers provide a bit of life and whimsy to any space. Asters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes…so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. Since they are most often sold in the fall, they typically don’t last through the cold winter months; but if planted early enough…giving their roots time to get established, they have a good chance of coming back the following spring.
Flowering Kale and Ornamental Cabbages: Honestly, I had to warm up to the idea of planting kale and cabbage where I’d typically plant flowers. However, after considering their unique characteristics and what they add to a space, I now think they’re actually a great addition to a fall garden. Ornamental cabbages and flowering kale are just like their edible cousins; however, with their rosier coloring they are prettier to look at…but a bit too bitter to eat. They are low-lying, so they look best as borders…and like other annuals or perennials, they look great when planted in your garden in big sweeps. If you only want a few of them, I’d suggest adding them to a container vs. the odd blob here and there in your landscape beds.
- Others Top Contenders: There are so many other annuals and perennials to choose from…and which ones are best for your outdoor spaces depends on where you live and what’s available to you. Here are some others I’d recommend your considering: diascia, calendula, lobelia, petunia, Million Bells, snapdragons, alyssum, verbena, nasturtiums, salvia, Mexican Heather, and pentas.
Besides planting fall flowers, there are other ways to bring life to your otherwise sleepy outdoor spaces this fall.
- Consider Using Edibles: Growing your own veggies is something of a thing these days…but they’re often regulated to the vegetable garden. Consider taking some of these edible lovelies out of their typical confines and add them to your containers and landscape beds. For instance, I’m going to plant waves of spinach and lettuces where some of my summer flowers have petered out…as well as in a large window box that hangs on my chicken coop. Heck…they’re green and alive…and bonus, you can snack on them when you’re hanging outside.
- Use Objects & Other Fall Décor: There’s really no easier way to add texture and a sense of intention to any space than to incorporate seasonal objects and otherdécor into whatever else you have going on. For instance:
- Place groupings of pumpkins and gourds among your potted mums…you really don’t have to wait until Halloween.
- Hang string lights to bring warmth, dimension, and interest to both outdoor living and dining spaces.
- Hang a wreath that’s made or embellished with fall textures, colors, and objects. (For step-by-step instructions on how to create a burlap wreath, check out Britt’s post from earlier this year.)
Okay…hopefully now you’ll be able to fight off the temptation to literally and figuratively shut the door on your outdoor spaces this fall. The reality is…some of the best times of the year to be outside are during the cool days of fall. So don’t miss out…and make them that much more inviting and that much more enjoyable to hang-out in with really fairly minimal effort.
What are some things you’ve done to extend the life of your outdoor spaces? I’d love to hear about them and then share them with everyone else.
Oh…and speaking of bringing life to your outdoor spaces…and because our Container Gardening 101 post back in April was so well-received, once again I’m going to partner up with the Container Gardening Guru herself, Helen Weis with Unique by Design, and do a Fall Container Gardening 101 post. So stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks.