As summer turns to fall, flower beds and borders that were once bursting with vibrancy start to die back. But it's no time to despair – add some outdoor fall decor to your scheme and your garden can still look beautiful without having to rely on plants.
It's amazing what the right garden decor ideas can do to transform a space, whether you want to curate a special setup for an alfresco get-together or simply pep up your patio for your own enjoyment.
From patterns and color palettes to creative cut flower displays and tablescaping, we've rounded up our favorite outdoor fall decor ideas to help you embrace this wonderful time of year.
Get your garden looking gorgeous with these outdoor fall decor ideas
We've covered fall front porch ideas, but why stop there? Give your backyard a seasonal makeover with these looks.
1. Cozy up outdoor seating with extra cushions and throws
Although many regions can still enjoy golden sunshine during this time of year, for many, the new season equates to lower temperatures. To keep enjoying your outdoor seating space that's seen you through the summer, a few additional throws and cushions are essential.
'Heavier cushions and throws will complement your lighter summer furniture well and can be layered together to create a cozy vibe both outside and in, without a big expense,' says Dobbies’ Buyer, Hayley Kerr.
Look for textural designs and mix and match tones for a laid-back autumn outdoor living scheme. And if you haven't added one to your plot already, now's a good time to add an outdoor rug underfoot, too.
2. Choose autumnal patterns for your tableware
Whether you're planning a garden party this season or just want to make the most of dining outdoors before the weather gets too cold, an autumnal tablescape is a must.
An easy and affordable way to curate a theme is by choosing seasonal table linen, such as this adorable pumpkin-printed runner. Complementary fabric napkins, twinkling tea lights, and pretty dried flower arrangements will help to pull the look together.
As for seating, make sure there are enough cushions and blankets for guests, so that everyone stays warm. And if you really want to go the extra mile with your autumn theme – perhaps for a special occasion – think about bringing hay bales in. Topped with a blanket or a well-sanded wooden board, they can be used as a rustic bench. Or, simply use them to display bountiful arrangements of gourds, flowers, and other harvest goodies.
3. Get creative with the seasons' harvest
Speaking of showing off autumn's harvest, how about this for an idea?
With a lick of paint, you can elevate a simple display of fruits and veggies into a work of art. Try painting a handful of apples and pears in metallic tones and using them to decorate a table or to top a basket, as seen here.
There are also lots of pumpkin painting ideas you can try, including these hand-written designs: perfect for framing a gate or door, decorating a deep windowsill, or topping a mid-height wall.
4. Use dahlias for dazzling displays
Dahlias come into their prime from late summer to fall, so be sure to make the most of them if you grow them in your garden.
They make wonderful cut flowers and will instantly brighten even the simplest of dining tables. Even just a few stems in an old glass jam jar can be all it takes to make a statement, although a larger display like this, woven together with airy ornamental grasses, will make a more dramatic impact.
There are plenty of options to get creative when it comes to outdoor table decorating ideas in autumn, though. Events Designer Fiona Leahy, for instance, loves using foliage, painterly hydrangeas in beautiful colors, and roses for her tables when the cooler temperatures hit. She also suggests creating tablescapes inspired by paintings from the old Dutch masters, complete with fruits and vegetables such as pomegranates, grapes and colorful radishes.
5. Plant up autumn containers
Dahlias aren't the only plant to come into their own in autumn. There are plenty of other seasonal delights, including heathers, which will continue flowering throughout the season.
Now is a great time to refresh your summer container gardening ideas by discarding old bedding plants and replacing them with autumn wonders. This vertical display has a modern look, and is good for smaller plots.
For a more relaxed look, opt for a variety of colors and forms: heucheras, sedums and Japanese anemones are pretty choices for the season.
6. Choose autumnal tones
Autumnal hues can be channeled into your space through your choice of accessories, be it soft textiles, planters, candle holders, or even dinnerware. But, you may fancy giving more permanent features of your garden an update, too – perhaps your fence or furniture, for instance.
'Consider the colors that already appear naturally in the space; this will form the foundation of your color palette,' says Matthew Brown, Technical Consultant at Sadolin and Sandtex. 'The majority of color already there will derive from flora and will most definitely include tones of greens along with strong shades of perhaps pinks, reds and blazing oranges. To highlight and accentuate these, consider using contrasting tones which will enhance the intensity of the natural hues.'
Alternatively, add autumn color to your garden while keeping the look fresh and modern by pairing traditional, seasonal tones like terracotta with lighter, cool-toned colors, suggests Hayley.
7. Pep up walls with fall wreaths
'Autumn wreaths are a great way to spruce up your outside space and warm up your garden shed or front door,' says Hayley. 'The golden yellow tones, soft ambers and muted browns all play their part in creating a cozy display to brighten up the colder days.'
There are plenty of autumn wreaths available online (try Amazon). But, if you're feeling creative, why not learn how to make a DIY fall wreath – that way you can customize it to suit your outdoor setup perfectly.
8. Set up a cute picnic scene
Decorate an off-cut of timber to turn it into a cute sign for your garden, which can then be hung from or propped against a fence, a tree, or your door. It's a budget-friendly and super-simple project and will instantly add character and charm.
Use a waterproof varnish to help it last longer. It's a gorgeous way to make a garden picnic feel on-theme, especially when surrounded by colorful squash, soft plaid blankets, and twinkling lanterns.
9. Use carved pumpkins for flower arrangements
Pumpkins are a must for this time of year, and there are plenty of pumpkin carving ideas to bring into your outdoor space.
And if you've learned how to make a seasonal pumpkin planter for Halloween, bear in mind that this decorative accessory isn't just for spooky occasions. It can be used to dress up a table or corner of your patio at any time throughout fall. Fill with flowers, sprigs of autumn leaves, and sculptural twigs for an eye-catching display.
10. Create a cozy retreat full of twinkling lights
The weather can start to turn as summer fades, which means a sheltered outdoor space is invaluable for extending the use of your backyard.
Pergolas are perfect for protecting you against drizzle. And, with the addition of outdoor fall decor, can be transformed into a cozy retreat for relaxing and entertaining while enjoying the fresh air.
Start by adding some outdoor patio lighting to illuminate the zone. 'Twinkling string lights and lanterns are a fantastic way to give your space a glow as the nights get darker and will add charm to any space,' says Hayley. 'Overhead fairy lights always look great and will completely transform the mood of a balcony or small garden. For an intimate vibe in a large space, assorted lanterns styled in groups will add warmth and help create a romantic ambiance.'
Consider adding one of the best fire pits, too. 'There are many reasons to add a fire pit into your alfresco setup,' says Patrick Bridge of Harbour Lifestyle. 'Making memories, telling spooky stories, and roasting marshmallows around a fire pit not only provides hosting opportunities, but also allows you to indulge in quality time without phones or TV, to enjoy one another’s company and switch off.'
11. Mix up the textures
'Styling different tones and textures together will help create a snug sanctuary, perfect for alfresco entertaining on cooler nights,' says Hayley. 'And, when we get into winter, these pieces can be brought inside to add depth and warmth to your home.'
Combine wicker baskets, crocheted throws, sheepskin rugs, artisan ceramics and linen textiles for a curated outdoor dining scene that feels pleasingly tactile.
12. Decorate with colorful corn
Flint corn, otherwise known as Indian corn, isn't much good to eat. But, it's gorgeous as an autumnal decoration, with its colorful kernels in reds, yellows, and almost-black.
Try growing a batch from seed for stringing up along windows and railings or to add to a seasonal centerpiece for your table. You could also tie a few ears of this vibrant corn together with a velvet ribbon and hang it on your front door to welcome guests.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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