With the summer heat mercifully behind us, now is a good time to get outdoors and work in the yard.
Justin Cave, host of HGTV's Ground Breakers, says spring isn't the only season to grab a shovel and plant some trees and bushes.
"Fall is a great time because there's still warm days,'' he said. "If you can get it in before the first freeze, those roots will have a chance to stay hold and bloom out in the spring.''
Cave, 30, will be in Tampa on Nov. 5 talking about fall decorating ideas and promoting CSN Stores' $15,000 Battle Your Blah Backyard Contest, a nationwide search for the person most in need of a backyard makeover. Homeowners can submit their tales of landscaping woe through Dec. 1 at tinyurl.com/387k9rr.
In an interview from his home in Atlanta, Cave offered these inexpensive tips for sprucing up your outdoor living space this time of year.
• Decorate your front porch with dried cornstalks, pumpkins and gourds. Buy mums or other plants that come in yellow, orange and deep red to complement the colors of the changing leaves.
• Add drama and color to your entryway with container gardens. Place three kinds of plants in each container: a tall one in the center to give it height, shorter ones around it to fill out the space and plants to trail over the edge, such as ivy. Follow Cave's Rule of Thumb method for watering. Dip your thumb into the soil daily. If it comes out wet, wait a day or two. If if comes out dry, water it.
• Get a chiminea or other portable fire pit to add warmth and the ambience of fall. "If it's a cool evening, people can sit around it to enjoy a drink, dinner or s'mores,'' he said. "It's a great way to get people together.''
• Hang a decorative thermometer. When it starts to get cold you'll be able to check it to see if you need to throw some sheets over your plants. You'll have an exact reading of the temperature, rather than have to rely on local averages.
• Buy an outdoor-rated rug, one of Cave's favorite outdoor accessories. They can withstand any weather and come in all kinds of shapes and colors.
• Start a container herb garden. Rosemary, lavender and basil can add fragrance to a deck or patio and can be used for cooking. Grow them from seed or buy them from a nursery as young plants, which is less work but more expensive. If freezing temperatures loom, take the containers indoors and place in a spot that gets five to six hours a day of direct sun.
• Get outdoors and enjoy its therapeutic benefits. Breathe the cooler air, feel the sun in your face and watch for wildlife. "While you're doing your curb appeal or battling a back yard, get outdoors and connect to the natural world and do it in a way that's functional for yourself, your family and your home,'' he said. "The little things in life can make you feel good and happy,'' he said.