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Inside and Out

Getting Your House and Yard Ready for Fall and Winter

Courtesy Of Michelle Edwards

With cooler temperatures just around the corner, now is the time to get your house and yard ready for fall and winter. Say goodbye to summer flowers, plants and decor and make room for some crisp autumn-like accessories and plantings.

The Great Outdoors

Mary Louise Hagler of, a Web site with information on flowers, food and friendship, says the first thing to do is go out to the street in front of your house and take a good look at the yard and front entry. “Are they neat? Tidy? Inviting?” she asks. Then, identify and create a list for plants and decorations to be replaced. “Fall is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs, which provide structure and privacy to your home and garden,” she says. Focus on the areas you use the most and that are most visible, and then work on the rest later.

October is the time to over-seed warm-season grasses, such as centipede or Bermuda, with annual rye grass for a green lawn in the upcoming winter months, according to Southern Living Magazine’s Month-to-Month Garden & Lawn Checklist ( Replace summer annuals with cool-weather annuals, but prepare the soil first. The checklist says to add a balanced, slow-release fertilizer, organic matter such as composted pine bark and then till the bed before planting.

November is a good time to start a compost pile, according to Southern Living. As you clean up your garden, use fallen leaves and plant debris mixed together with some soil and an optional handful of fertilizer (any kind but a weed-and-feed product) to get started. Place in an out-of-the-way corner of the yard, water weekly if there’s no rain, and you should have healthy compost by spring.

Fall Plantings

This is also a great time to plant a fall vegetable garden with seeds of mustard, collards, turnips and lettuce. It’s also a good time to plant herbs such as rosemary, cilantro, oregano, sage and parsley, accodking to Hagler.

In addition to the popular fall plants such as pansies, violas, mums, sweet alyssum and snapdragons, try adding a few ornamental edibles. “Ornamental kale, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, ‘Freckles’ romaine lettuce, ‘Romanesco’ broccoli and ‘Japanese Giant Red’ mustard will add unique interest to your garden and front-door containers,” says Hagler. All of the above-mentioned plants are edible and well as ornamental, so get your kids involved with the planting and harvesting.

Spruce up your tired planters and window boxes simply by adding a few pops of color for the winter months ahead. Glazed containers are available at your local garden centers in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. “Container planting is very popular and you can find many fall/winter recipes for what to plant that will thrive in a container,” says Hagler. Changing out old summer outdoor cushions with new ones in fall colors will also add a little punch. And fire pits are great to warm up a cool night and they are a magnet for teenage gatherings.

When deciding how much to plant or outdoor decorating you should do, Hagler says less is more. Your eyes should focus on one or two things to keep it tasteful. A natural wreath on the front door with some dried material is very inviting. “Southerners think of their yard and garden as an extension of the house, so create that feeling by adding touches of the inside to your patio or other outdoor areas,” she adds.

Bringing the Outdoors In

Augusta interior designer Julia Kay says that as the weather gets cooler we are inside more, but want to be around all that nature has to offer during these months. “Pumpkins, squash, apples and gourds are in abundance in the fall and are all you need to bring the beautiful colors of autumn inside.” Kay suggests grouping these on and around a tray on the dining room table as a great way to show them off. And don’t skimp, as more is better in this case.

Michelle Edwards, visual merchandiser, floral designer and artist who blogs at, likes to concentrate on her fireplace. “Having the majority of seasonal decorations in one location, like the mantle, really packs a punch,” she says. Using a round mirror above the mantle as a focal point, she anchors it on both sides with fairly large accessories like glass vases or wooden candleholders, and fills in with small things in the middle. “I like combining new with the old and add a touch of homemade,” she says.

As for mantles or sideboards, Kay adds bittersweet, rose hip or decorative branches like curly willow to containers. They provide both color and height and, with the addition of evergreens, are perfect for the holidays. Edwards also uses branches from recent pruning or a downed tree, or even from the local craft store. “Whichever you use, branches create texture, height and dimension wherever your put them,” she says.

Adding Ambiance

As the days grow shorter, use candlelight to create a cozy atmosphere. Add candlesticks and inexpensive votives to your dining room centerpiece or mantle. “This is also a good place to use metallics that are so beautiful with the autumnal color scheme,” says Kay.

Texture is also important accent in any room. Think wool, velvet and boucle fabrics. Adding a warm blanket to the back of a chair, a few chocolate brown pillows to a sofa and filling glass containers with acorns or pinecones are easy ways to bring the outside in.

Instead of replacing items for a seasonal change, Kay suggests layering. “Minimizing bright whites and pastels may be necessary, but even a pink vase takes on an autumnal quality when filled with bittersweet and curly willow,” she says.

Edwards tends to rotate a few things around as the seasons change. “A couple of things I typically switch out in the living room for fall and winter are my decorative pillows and my window treatments,” she says. Simply changing out bright summer colors and gauzy fabrics for deeper colors and rich fabrics brings a different feeling to the room.

More simply, just adding a large container with potted mums in the fall or paperwhites for the holidays, still in their pots, adds a nice touch. “I suggest using large containers because they really make a statement and it only takes a few large pieces to give the whole house a seasonal feel,” says Kay.

Don’t worry if your home is not decorated in all neutral colors, advises Kay. If red doesn’t look good with your color scheme, then use three shades of green for holiday decorating. Use yellows and browns in the fall if orange and red clash with your interior. Remember that metallics work with any color palette. “Make the season work for your home,” says Kay.

Cammie Jones is an Augusta freelance writer, wife and mother of three.

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