Even if you are pressed for time this year when you decorate for autumn, be sure to add a touch or two to these three important areas.
Before guests even get to your door, let them know you're excited about fall. Find a spot on your front walkway to tuck in a fall display. My favorite trick is to select two large lanterns, then fill each with an attractive seasonal display.
It might be a battery-operated pillar candle surrounded by fall foliage inside and a cute fall ribbon tied onto the lantern handle. Lantern displays take just minutes to pull together, but look fetching. If you don't have a natural spot to place a fall display up close to the road, put a lantern on your front stoop.
I also like to do a little something near the entry to the walled courtyard behind my home. The wall is large and open and just ripe for a lantern. My favorite picks are flat-back wall lanterns because they hug the wall and don't flap in the wind. If you don't have a wall, dress up your garden gate.
Let your creativity run wild when coming up with a display to put inside the lanterns. How about a figurine of a bird? A bird's nest? Maybe a piece of artwork that features fall images? Or, just take some fall picks and intertwine them with strands of bittersweet. Finish off with a great seasonal bow. I'm partial to burlap ribbon because I love how it looks with the organic elements of fall.
If you have time to decorate only one outside spot this fall, make it your front door. It's here that you set the stage, giving everyone who visits a glimpse of what they can expect inside.
If you have only minutes to spare for decorating, tap into the power of the wreath. Good in a pinch, they always look lovely. I hang mine from my door knocker.
When you hang a wreath, you can just secure it to the knocker with some zip ties or florist wire. Or you can hang it with fall ribbon. I think the ribbon adds a nice touch and gives you a chance to include a bit more color and texture.
Don't like wreaths? Here's another fast and easy idea: Find a bundle of tried twigs in your backyard or at a park, cinch them together into a small bouquet, tie them up with a fall ribbon, then hang them upside down on your front door.
Sometimes understated treatments like this are the most powerful because of their simplicity.
Add intrigue to your garden
Adding a touch of fall to your garden is easy. All you need to do is augment the display Mother Nature has already created. Pile up some pumpkins around a tree. Fill a birdbath with gourds. Top a pillar with a pumpkin.
I use a mix of real and artificial pumpkins and gourds when I decorate my home.
I love the real pumpkins and gourds because they are so crazy-looking, full of interesting colors and imperfections. But the fakes are so good these days, it's often hard to tell them from the real. And if you put up your fall decor before the weather turns cool, you don't have to worry about them rotting.
I invested in a set of iron pillars a few years ago, and I'm so thrilled I did.
I use these guys constantly in outdoor decorating, reinventing them season after season. Sometimes you'll find them holding serving trays. How about a cachepot filled with a fall mum? Or lanterns? That's the beauty of versatile decorating tools like these: You can use them a million ways.
You can also place decorated lanterns in your garden beds or on the edge of garden walkways. Don't overdo -- one or two usually is sufficient.