Grow a Gorgeous Fall Garden Your Birds Will Love
Plan a fall garden that flourishes beyond spring and summer. Follow these tips to create a landscape you and visiting wildlife will love.
Keep Your Garden Growing into Fall
It’s time to think about extending your garden’s interest into fall. Discounted plants are abundant this time of year, and birds will certainly be thankful for additional sustenance and shelter that a fall garden provides. Plus, cool-weather landscaping can absolutely still be beautiful.
Check out the top 10 blooming fall perennials for your garden.
An Eye for Fall Garden Design
After four decades of designing and installing gardens, Darryl Abraham of Naples, New York, appreciates options that aren’t just easy on the eyes but also on the back. “I’m on the naturalizing, low-maintenance side of things,” he says.
He also knows the value of working in layers and using a variety of plants—trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers and ground covers—for contrast in height, shape and texture. Some of his favorite fall plants include red twig dogwood, gray dogwood, Jerusalem artichoke, ornamental grasses, rose of Sharon, goldenrod, American bittersweet and milkweed.
Darryl is an advocate for autumn gardens thanks in part to his parents, garden authors and radio hosts George “Doc” and Katy Abraham. They grew lush landscapes that included hazelnut shrubs, apple trees, brambles and more—for their own enjoyment and to help sustain wildlife.
To design an outdoor space with lasting power, follow some of Darryl’s top fall garden recommendations.
Here’s why you should keep planting perennials in fall.
Gorgeous Grasses for Fall
Ornamental grasses peak after summer, when they reach their mature height and develop striking flower heads. Many turn an attractive buff color, which serves as a perfect backdrop for bright companions such as mums and sedums. And a few offer their own hues, like flame grass (Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’), which turns a fiery red-orange.
Most grasses remain upright during the cooler months, adding extended interest. Darryl says, “They’ll go right through the winter, have kind of a brown tuft, and then you cut them back in the spring and get the new growth coming out. They’re fairly easy to maintain.”
Check out the top 10 perennial grasses for your garden.
Appealing Fall Fruits for Birds
Certain fruitful plants attract birds in autumn, including mountain ash, a favorite of cedar and Bohemian waxwings. Other seasonal picks that get a thumbs-up from Darryl include American bittersweet, blackberries, cotoneaster and sumac, with its beautiful burgundy leaves in fall and conical fruiting structures.
Meet 7 backyard birds that eat berries.
Standout Fall Shrubs and Trees
When it comes to adding trees and shrubs with flair, Darryl recommends viburnum and mock orange, which offer spring flowers and striking fall color. Rose of Sharon blooms from summer into early fall. And hydrangeas have large summer flowers that fade into attractive tones of pink and tan. Look to oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) for burgundy fall leaves.
As for trees, Darryl suggests red and sugar maples for brilliant fall foliage and northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) for its cigar-shaped seedpods.
We found the 9 best fall shrubs to grow this season.
Favorite Fall Garden Flowers
While mums are a well-known seasonal standout, Darryl likes seed-bearing perennials that feed birds. “Black-eyed Susans are pretty tough,” he says. “Echinacea is another good one, and you can break the seed heads up and cast them around.” Other favorites of his include Joe Pye weed and asters.
Try these late summer and fall flowers that attract hummingbirds.
“Birds pretty much like any kind of tree,” Darryl says, but he points out that they especially enjoy the shelter of evergreens. Good options include western red cedar (Thuja plicata), eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) and blue spruce (Picea pungens).
Check out the top 10 dwarf conifers for small spaces.
Perfectly Potted Fall Plant Combos
Mix and match fall container plants. Here are a few reliable options to pretty up your front porch pots:
- Coral bells
- Creeping Jenny
- Dusty miller
- Ornamental kale
- Purple fountain grass
Next, discover 5 essential fall butterfly garden tips.