These brilliant fall landscaping ideas will help you preserve your beautiful outdoor spaces as we return to the office.

Autumn is just around the corner, and we are more than ready for the transition to crisp, cool weather. However, as many of us are gearing up to head back into the office at least a few days a week, it’s important to think through how we will transition our outdoor spaces this fall to accommodate our new schedules. In the same vein, our outdoor spaces are sure to become more sacred than ever as we navigate our new normals and will likely experience more hustle and bustle in our daily lives.

First-time gardeners that discovered a new passion for plants during the pandemic and long-time horticulturalists alike will have to navigate caring for their lawns and gardens with less flexibility and time at home, but there are plenty of ways to ensure your landscaping stays in pristine condition. We looked to landscape architect Margie Grace of Grace Design Associates and Joe Raboine, director of Belgard Residential Hardscapes, to share emerging landscaping trends and help us prepare our landscapes for a season of hosting, harvesting, and finding solace in the great outdoors.

How Summer Weather Will Effect Fall Landscapes

fall landscaping
Grace says leaning into weather-hardy plants and rock gardens will be a must for residents in the western U.S. They also make for lower-maintenance outdoor spaces.


Grace says as the weather seems less predictable than ever these days, it will have an impact on the way we landscape this fall. The landscape architect is based in Montecito, California, and says the drive for “water-smart, fire-smart, low-maintenance outdoor spaces” will continue to be a top priority in the western U.S. She says this means creating defensible, low-fuel content landscapes. That requires leaning into more weather-hardy plants and utilizing other materials, like gravel and rock, instead of grass in traditional lawn spaces. She also expects many landscape requests to be related to food production with fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens still being a priority even as we venture out of the home more often.

“In the east, I’m mostly seeing a ‘wait and see’ posture,” says Grace. “People are moving forward with landscape elements like covered patios, outdoor cooking areas, fire pits, pools, and other hardscape elements.” However, the designer is seeing a lot less intensive planting schemes and requests for high-maintenance planting borders.

“The trend to get the most of outdoor spaces continues, but landscapes are becoming less plant-centered,” she says.

Fall Plantings to Consider

fall landscaping
Boston Ivy makes a lush, verdant canopy in the spring and summer while transitioning to a festive crimson color in fall.


Grace has five favorite fall plants that feel festive and add brilliance to your outdoor design scheme. She loves Boston Ivy to cover a home’s exterior in a blanket of crimson, while it brings a historic flair to your home in the spring and summer. These plans fare best in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8. She also likes bringing oak leaf hydrangeas in for fall, which features red leaves during the season and thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.

Another favorite fall plant is the Japanese maple tree, which thrives best in the colder environments of USDA Hardiness Zone’s 1-7, but they are possible to grow in zones 8-9 with a little extra care and planting in a shady location. Natchez crepe myrtles are an autumn favorite for bring in vibrancy to your landscape as, “the vivid orange and yellow fall leaves against the sculptural form of a multi-trunk crepe myrtle [is] perfection!” These beauties will be at their best in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-9.

Tulip trees are a popular favorite for fall, as these large, shady trees offer a fiery display of yellow leaves and offers the best of both worlds in her coastal California town as they offer all the color with a short leaf-raking season. Also called Tulip poplars, these trees are best for those living in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.

Emerging Fall Landscaping Trends

fall landscaping
Increasing outdoor lighting and adding heat features are must-haves for enjoying your outdoor space and admiring your beautiful landscaping at any hour.

“We’ll get busy again and will probably tend towards spending less time in our outdoor spaces, but I think we will continue to get pulled outdoors,” says Grace. “We really got grounded in the stress-reducing nature of our outdoor spaces, and we will continue to value and seek out time spent in our gardens and the outdoors for the shear feeling of of well-being it provides.”

The landscape architect says in light of this, people are craving simplicity and a sanctuary for connecting with the natural world. Many of the requests her firm is getting include quiet plant palettes, a soothing water feature that attracts wildlife, and high-habitat value plantings that attract pollinators. She also notes that we are far from over the emotional toll of the pandemic and many people are hungry to make their outdoor spaces more livable. Her clients also want help finding outdoor furniture that’s comparable to indoor pieces in design and comfort in order to make these spaces more inviting.

Raboine’s team processes plans from contractors across North America and says that as more people have seen their outdoor spaces as a destination for activities other than just hosting alfresco dinners, they are becoming daily retreats to work, play, meditate, unwind, eat and build relationships.

“People are thinking much more about using these spaces to impact their overall health, wellbeing, and add value to their lives, and that’s a radically different way than we are used to thinking,” says Raboine. “It used to just be, ‘how can I accommodate 20 people on a weekend afternoon out here.’ The features we’re seeing a lot of right now are yoga and meditation spaces, outdoor offices—spaces that are much more individual than just community based. Because of that it, the size of our usable outdoor space has increased significantly as we are doing so much more there.” This means people are doing more to integrate important aspects of their indoor living outside, and he says one of the top requests his team gets is improving outdoor lighting options to ensure families will be able to enjoy these spaces long after Daylight Savings hits.

“We’ve said for a while that we need to move the indoors out and it really has become like we are building houses for people outdoors with all these features,” says Raboine. There’s so much technology specifically designed for outdoor living now, with Bluetooth and WiFi. Outdoor kitchens, fire features, and pergolas are the top requests we are getting right now, and all of this is really an indicator that people are still looking to use their outdoor spaces year-round.”

What to Consider Before Creating a Fall Landscape Plan

fall landscaping
Grace’s mantra is “dream, research, design, build, live,” which requires clients to get creative dream up their perfect outdoor space for their specific needs.


Raboine says now’s the time to schedule a fall landscaping plan with a trusted expert or on your own, as labor is in such high-demand right now. He advises coming in with a clear understanding of your vision for your landscape and outdoor spaces, being clear on the size and scale of your project, along with the colors and textures you’re looking for to streamline the process.

“The top of the list is always asking yourself the question: how do you see yourself or your family using this space?” says Grace. “How do you want to feel in the proposed space? Think through the resources, time, and budget you’re willing to commit to the project. As always, with any project, the steps for creating a new space are: dream, research, design, build, and live.”