Fall Garden Design

In the early fall garden, the air is cooler and fresher – what a relief this is if you get a lot of high humidity over the summer! However, fall is a great time to liven up your garden and add variety to your landscape.

For most gardeners, those first hints of cool weather at the end of a long, hot summer are a welcome relief. It’s almost as if Mother Nature is beckoning you to put away your lawn mower and dandelion weeder, kick back in a lounge chair with a good book, and enjoy the outdoor air-conditioning as brightly colored leaves flutter down around you.

If you’ve planned your garden well, you have late-blooming perennials such as sedums, asters, mums, and ornamental grasses to enjoy.

Before you enjoy a well-deserved break, take a good look around your garden. Do you see anything that captures the season and beckons you outside? Or does it look like a garden that’s been beaten to a pulp by the summer heat? If your landscape has a case of the blahs that threatens to drive you from the lounge chair to your living room — with shades drawn — this could be the time to make some outdoor improvements.

Get landscaping ideas to carry the beauty of your garden design into the fall.

Plan for Foliar Color

As the days shorten, plants’ abilities to synthesize chlorophyll become reduced. When this happens, the foliage of many plants begins to change from green to various hues of yellow, orange, red, purple and brown. The yellow and orange carotene and xanthophyll (hidden under the green of chlorophyll) that’s found in ash, aspen, birch, black cherry, cottonwood, sycamore, tulip tree and willow begin to appear.

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Shrubs and grasses with yellow fall color include:

Forestiera neomexicana
Sorgastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Another group of pigments, called anthocyanins, is responsible for the pinks, reds and purples, which are present in maple trees, sumac bushes and the Virginia Creeper vine.


Other plants that have red fall foliage include:

Rosa hugonis (Father Hugo Shrub Rose)
Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’
Rhus trilobata, R. aromatica ‘Gro-Low’
Viburnam lentego and other Viburnam species
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (Prairie Switch grass)
Schizachrium scoparium ‘Blaze’ (Little Bluestem grass)

Oaks contain high quantities of tannin in the leaves which are responsible for the brown and beige colors.


Plan for Fall Flowers

Many perennials bloom in the fall and should also be included in your garden. These include many plants with yellow flowers like Helianthus maximiliana (Maximilian Sunflower) and various Solidago cultivars (Golden rod).

Red and pink flowered varieties include tall Sedums like S. sieboldii,, S. ‘Autumn Joy’, S. ‘Neon.’ Hummingbird mints like Agastache x ‘Ava’ and ‘Desert Sunrise’ are essential fall bloomers.

Sedum sieboldii2

Orange flowered perennials like Zauschneria arizonica and Kniphofia caulescens are always welcome. Blue flowers are provided by Salvia pitcherii ‘Grandiflora’ and Salvia reptens. Purples are supplied by Aster ‘Purple Dome’ and ever-blooming Viola corsica.

Ornamental grasses provide a wonderful textural element with attractive foliage and colorful plumes. Miscanthus ‘Silberfeder’ and Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’ are particularly showy.

Don’t forget the various fall blooming Crocus. These little beauties are often overlooked but are perfect for planting into swatches of low groundcovers like Veronica ‘Heavenly Blue’ and Achillea ageratifolia (Greek Yarrow). These small naturalizing bulbs are planted in the fall and will spread to provide carpets of color in shades of pink, white and blue for many years to come.

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Plan for Design

When establishing fall plantings, keep in mind that many of the reds look good with the grayish perennials and ornamental grasses such as Stachys byzantina ‘Helen Von Stein’ (Lamb’s Ear) and Festuca glauca ‘Boulder Blue’ (Boulder Blue Fescue Grass).

– A combination of coarse textures to the back of the garden and fine textures toward the front will make a visual statement, even if the colors are similar.
– Perennial and annual grasses have a fine texture and still look great in the fall and into winter.
– Coarse textured plants that still look great in the fall would include Sedum, Ornamental Cabbage or Kale, Bergenia, Hosta, Ligularia, and Gold or Purple Smokebush.
– Tiger Eyes Sumac has a unique growing habit and a wispy texture. Its chartreuse summer color and orange/red fall color are equally noteworthy.

Plan for Winter Interest

– Flower heads from hydrangeas and plumes from grasses will peek through the snow in the winter serving as a memory of summer and reminder of warm weather to come.
– Yellow and red-twigged dogwoods stand out against the snow. The twigs can also be used as a decorative filling for containers. The Variegated Dogwood also has red twigs that are visible in the winter.
– The Autumn Magic Chokeberry will turn red in the fall and hold on to its small black berries throughout the winter.
– Many varieties of Crabapple Trees also keep their fruit throughout the winter.

For more Garden picture visit Autumn, Four Seasons garden Walsall

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