Fall and Your Outdoor Space – Making the Most of What the Season Offers
The cool, crisp air of fall ushers in a new season; one of thick sweaters, hot beverages, and cozy nights by the fire. The beauty of autumn lies in its kaleidoscope of warm hues. The lush shades of red, orange, and yellow blanket many a backyard, providing a picturesque backdrop for family gatherings.
This year, why not make the most of what the season has to offer? Why not don the sweaters, cup the hot drink, and sit by a cozy fire outside? Extending your living space beyond your home’s four walls, offers you and your family many benefits. Before you can comfortably enjoy your pumpkin-spice latte outside though, your outdoor fall living space will require a bit of seasonal maintenance.
Autumn is the time to get your gardens ready for the colder temperatures of winter. Landscape Ontario recommends cutting back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Plants such as daylilies and irises can handle the harshness of the oncoming cold and should be trimmed.
For the rest of your garden though, it is recommended to merely cut off any dead foliage and flower heads. Leaving the rest of the plant as protection from the elements, ensures that your garden will bounce back in the spring.
Your Leaves and Pumpkins:
The cooler temperatures of fall provide the perfect opportunity to infuse your lawn and soil with added nutrients. Lucky for you, the best source for this already exists in your own backyard. Those beautiful fall leaves strewn across your lawn are extremely rich in nutrients and microbial life.
When added to your grass and gardens, leaves can boost the soil’s water-holding capacity and improve its structure. Leaving them whole on your lawn though is not recommended. By covering the grass, they block the sunlight and reduce water evaporation, which can lead to fungus, mould, and disease. A better alternative is to break them up into smaller pieces. This allows them to be absorbed faster into the dirt and act as a nutrient. It also provides a much nicer looking mulch in your gardens.
There are a couple of ways to chop or shred your fall leaves.
- Leaf mulchers can be purchased at Home Depot or Amazon. These tools break up leaves quickly and easily, making bagging or composting less of a chore.
- Your lawn mower can also get the job down quickly. Set your mower height to about 3 inches and proceed to cut your grass. This will mulch the leaves until they are small pieces. They are then ready for you can rake into manageable piles.
What are the best tools for raking?
- The Scotts 30-in Poly Rake with Colla-PSIble Garden Bag has a 47-inch long handle, ensuring less back stress. The bag is foldable, reusable, and flips open within seconds.
- The Amazing Rake RK31000 Original Ergonomic Pickup Rake allows you to rake, scoop and pick up leaves without bending or stooping and is available at Amazon.ca.
- Leaf Scoops are purchased as a pair and make picking up large bunches of leaves quick and easy.
- The Bagez is a handy tool used to prop a leaf bag open on its side.
Leaves decompose at different rates, depending on the type of leaf and the environment of the compost.
- Under the right conditions, leaves decompose within 3-6 months.
- Keep them damp and turn them once a week. This ensures the entire pile has consistent air and moisture levels.
Once Halloween has passed, your pumpkins too can be recycled and decomposed.
- If your pumpkin has been carved, it will decompose very quickly. Pumpkins are 90% water and will break down within days. Cut it into smaller pieces and mix them into your garden soil.
- Uncarved pumpkins provide even more options for recycling due to the slower rate of decomposition.
- If you do not have a garden, remove the seeds, and dry them out. These can then be mixed with regular bird seed and placed within the hull of the pumpkin for hungry birds.
- Small chunks of pumpkin can be put out as a snack for local wildlife.
- Many communities offer drop off locations for pumpkins, ensuring local farms and community gardens can utilize the nutrient-rich gourds.
- Uncarved pumpkins can also be used in decorative containers and other seasonal displays. You can even transition them into holiday decorations by spray painting them white and adding painted snowman details.
Your Outdoor Fall Living Space:
Extending your living space beyond your home’s four walls, not only adds value to your property, but to your quality of life too. Creating a comforting and inviting outdoor oasis allows you and your family to commute with nature.
Being outside reduces stress, depression and anxiety, and contributes to an improved immune system. The trick is to treat your fall living space as an outdoor room.
- To boost the warmth and coziness, provide a base layer of textiles.
- Outdoor carpets provide colour and texture and are easily swept clean.
- Warm throws and soft pillows will beckon your family outside for cozy afternoons. When not in use, these items should be stored in sturdy storage containers.
- Create a welcoming ambience by twining strands of outdoor lights through your porch railing or seasonal containers.
- Place LED candles in outdoor lanterns and place strategically throughout your fall living space.
- Start a fire for family members to gather around. Fire bowls, chimineas and outdoor fireplaces are available at many local distributors such as Canadian Tire.
- Outdoor heaters offer an alternative heat-source and are available in propane gas and electric models. Although not as atmospheric as an open fire, they can warm a much larger area.
The beauty of autumn should not be wasted; the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges should be viewed in all their glory. Creating an outdoor fall living space allows you and your family to reap the benefits of nature, while extending the warmth and comfort of your home.
Just as you would clean and declutter your indoor space, winterizing your gardens and composting your leaves and pumpkins, provides you with a clean backdrop, perfect for cozy nights by the fire.