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How to Transform Your Garden for Outdoor Autumn Living

Autumn is here.

The hot sun has finally yielded to cooler weather as trees litter their lawns with foliage. It is the season for long dinners and heartfelt conversations.

Luckily, anybody can transform their garden into an inviting space full of warmth and colour, ideal for outdoor living as the days get cooler. This article offers a host of suggestions with the goal of boosting your garden’s overall charm and outdoor appeal.

There are three key elements to consider when transforming your Autumn garden:

  1. Structures
  2. Plants
  3. Lighting

Build Your Structures

Being outside means facing the elements – rain, wind, sunshine, sleet or even snow. Preparing for changable weather conditions means introducing cover without forgetting to add the warmth that suits the season.

You can take the living room, patio, even the kitchen outside by building a ‘living’ wall to enclose that area. Hang planters on it filled with flowers and herbs. Not only does it create privacy from nosy neighbours, it gives you a tall boundary like that will provide shade and additional greenery to a plain deck.

Build a natural stone path in your garden. It only requires a shovel and a wheelbarrow, as well as a strong back and plenty of stone and sand. A garden path allows the homeowner to create a sense of narrative for guests to enjoy, highlighting important features and checkpoints for a richer experience.

Install a pergola, which is a covered or uncovered structure supported by posts (typically all timber construction). Over time, growing climbers will give this ancient garden structure a fair bit of shade and whimsical beauty.

Consider also a gazebo, which is typically freestanding, roofed and round in shape, and can be screened for insect protection.

Or to keep it simple, you can always go for a retractable awning, which is an extendable fabric structure that provides shade and shelter from the elements.

Going for a rugged camp-look? Build a fire pit in the yard that people can gather around and enjoy.

Create structures that encourage opportunities for barbeques, reading, relaxing and other fun outdoor activities.

Pick Your Plants

“A garden is a complex of aesthetic and plastic intentions; and the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant — rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance — but it is also a colour, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself.”

Roberto Marx, world-renowned Brazilian landscape artist

The cool weather and warm soil makes autumn the perfect season to lay down your summer plants and edibles. Opt for citrus plants like oranges, lemons or grapefruit, suitable in most climates. All they need is sunshine and consistent feeding.

Other vegetables that thrive in this season include spinach, beetroots, onions, kale and cauliflower. Plant herbs like coriander, chives and parsley that will stock your kitchen for months. As long as homeowners plant according to their temperate zone, they are in for a delicious harvest.

Flowers are the budding stars of every garden, and the best way to offer a striking first impression. Sweet peas, Flanders, Shirleys and calendulas planted in autumn will blossom beautifully in spring.

Consider native Australian trees like bottle brush, banksia and lilly pilly. Go for the deep reds and perennials that thrive in sun and shade. Japanese anemones known as wind flowers, are the focal point of any autumn garden. So are pink ‘Queen Charlottes’ and Limelight Hydrangeas.

The leaves of the Goldmound shrub turn bright, golden yellow in the autumn, perfect as a border or wall lining.

And nothing says autumn colours like Japanese maples.

The autumn garden is all about variety. Place the flowers, trees and shrubbery at the gate, along the walls, and on the steps leading to the house for a hero’s welcome. Let the pots and planters join in the chorus of colours. The contrast of these planters and the walls in the background make the flowers even more attractive. Pop into your local nursery for some window shopping and more ideas.

Install Your Lighting

“In nature, light creates the colour. In the picture, colour creates the light.”

Hans Hoffman, renowned painter

Lighting can transform a garden into a perfect venue for social gatherings, especially in the evenings.

Beyond its practicality, proper outdoor lighting enhances everything it touches. It pulls everything together – the plants, flowers, trees, textures and overall landscape – into a perfect Insta-worthy scene.

Overhead lights can be hung on trees or pergolas to cast a warm atmosphere. Use path lights to lead guests from the entrance through desired routes, and to highlight steps and other features like decks, patio and gazebos.

String lights up on the walls and edges. Submerge water-proof lights into the water feature or pool. Consider motion sensor lights or integrating outdoor lighting for added security. There are as many light fixtures as there are places to put them, so you should think carefully about the picture you are trying to create.

Importantly, make sure that all fixtures are designed for outdoor use and the lighting complies with Australian Standard AS 4282-1997. A professional electrician should be able to advise on this and more. When the work is done, insist on a certificate of compliance.

The cost of installing outdoor lighting depends on the type and number of fixtures, among other considerations, e.g., high vs low-voltage systems.

  • Low voltage systems are cheaper and safer in the event of exposed wires in a storm.
  • On the other hand, high-voltage products designed for outdoor use last longer.

DIY vs Using Professionals: Which is Best?

Materials, products, site accessibility, scale of the project and the contractor fees all factor into overall cost. So, focusing on what you can do well – such as sourcing materials, project management, or improving site access – can save you money in the long run.

But often the actual construction, planting and installation is best left to the pros as it usually gets done quicker and is more likely to be fully compliant with any building codes or safety standards, which can also save you money in the long run.

Not to mention a lot of hard yakka.

Smart homeowners can compare several quotes in their region to get the right tradie and best value for money.

When it comes to tasks that involve construction – paving, retainingn walls, concreting – the best option is to hire a specialist. DIY is cost-effective but only to the extent of an individual’s knowledge and expertise.

Besides, another opinion often yields better results overall – in terms of both safety and aesthetic. Tradie Denis Knight, a landscaper with 25 years of experience says that ‘It’s always good to have another set of eyes on something other than just your own.’

Begin with a specific idea about the look and feel for the space, and how you’d like to use it. A professional landscaper can help you draft a site plan based on this, and work towards a garden transformation within a certain budget.