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Portland Fall Lawn Care and Outdoor Staging with flowers and MORE!

Do you just pause when looking over Portland real estate listing photos with lush, beautiful lawns in front of the house? Yes, we all do, including the new buyers. Here’s our agent-approved guide to growing the best lawn on the block this fall.

Fall Lawn Care for Portland Homes

Many Portland homeowners let their lawn go brown in the summer through infrequent watering. They know that if it’s only been “dead” (really dormant) a few weeks, the fall rains will bring the green right back.

If you’re selling your home this fall, you might want to kick-start the greening process by watering heavily for a couple of days. If the grass stays brown, it’s actually dead. You will need to re-seed or re-sod, depending on the size of the area. Seeds can fill in sparse or bare patches, but if there are areas bigger than a couple of square feet in need of grass, sod is your best bet.

Most lawns come back from the dry spells with great resilience and enjoy the abundant Portland rainfall. Keeping grass a little bit long — 3 or 4 inches — is the best way to keep it from going brown between rains. Longer blades shade the roots and keep sun and wind from drying them.

Three-step Guide to Portland Lawn Maintenance

Fall is a great time to remove thatch, fertilize and reseed your lawn for lush growth. Here are some tips for each:

  1. Aerate: Grass has a tendency to build up a thick layer of “thatch”, a web of roots, stems and debris that can block water from reaching down deep and prevent new growth from coming up. The solution is to pull up plugs of lawn with an aerator, leaving behind small holes that will allow water and nutrients to reach the grass’ active root layer.
  2. Fertilize: Fall and spring are the two best seasons to fertilize your lawn in Portland. After aerating, you can apply a fertilizer close to the ground to feed the roots. The best way to select the right fertilizer for your lawn is to have the soil tested. The soil test will tell you the nutrient content, composition, and pH level of your soil. Testing costs between $10 and $20 and will save you from buying expensive fertilizer if you don’t have to. It will also keep excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus, from running into Portland streams and rivers, which can disrupt the ecosystem balance and harm fish and other wildlife. If you do need to fertilize, don’t do it within five feet of a street gutter or drain, and don’t water excessively afterwards.
  3. Reseed: Reseeding is important not only to keep your lawn looking good, but also to prevent weeds from coming up in bare patches. Raking, aerating or otherwise disturbing the thatch layer before casting seeds will allow them to burrow down and stay moist.  Applying compost after reseeding is another great way to keep them from drying out. Check out some varieties of Plants that Reseed on Pinterest.

Enhance your Portland Lawn with Compost

Despite being one of the few urban centers with curbside compost pickup, Portland still likes to take the DIY approach. After all, why would a good gardener give up this rich source of organic nutrient?

If you’re putting your Portland home on the market and wondering what to do with the lovely compost pile in your backyard, consider distributing it to your lawn. Your grass will quickly grow through a thin layer of compost, and thrive with the addition of the micronutrients and microbes it contains. And, your home buyers will thank you for not leaving your compost pile behind!

Prepping the compost
Most piles don’t decompose perfectly, and there may be the occasional egg shell or avocado pit that you don’t want to throw directly on your lawn. The best solution is to screen your compost before spreading it. Screened compost has the ideal particle size and is easiest to distribute in an even layer across your lawn.

Create a simple compost screen by using some hardware cloth in a wood frame, or borrow one from a neighbor. You’ll also need a wheelbarrow or a tub to screen the compost into.

Ideally, aerate and reseed your lawn before adding compost. However, compost has the effect of allowing grass to grow up and through it, leaving the old thatch layer behind. Over time, your grass will also grow in thicker due to the increased nutrients and decreased thatch, so reseeding will not be necessary. However, for the best-looking lawn in just a few weeks, scatter some seed before you add compost.

Applying the compost
Use a shovel to throw the screened compost directly on the grass. Aim for a 1/4-inch layer, using a rake to even out thick patches. Avoid walking on the grass for a few days to prevent compaction, and even longer if you’ve reseeded the grass. In less than a week, your lawn will look as it did before the compost was added.

Outdoor Home Staging Guide

After you’ve cared for your lawn this fall, what else can be done to enhance curb appeal before your home is listed on the Portland market? Here are a few ideas.

  • Decorate? Fall is a popular time to decorate outdoor areas, but if you anticipate home showings, it’s best to keep decor minimal and holiday non-specific. On the other hand, a nice-looking fall arrangement of cornstalks, pumpkins, and potted mums can really set off a walkway, patio, or front porch. Just avoid blocking walkways, doors, and stairs.


  • Clean-up: A higher priority is to ensure summer garden beds are cleaned up, removing dead plant matter and anything that won’t survive the first frost. Keep up with leaf-raking and fall pruning. And remember, cobwebs are great for Halloween, but not for home sales.
  • Emphasize three-season spaces: Do you have a patio, deck or other outdoor space that can be enjoyed into the fall? Let buyers know visually by keeping the furniture out and the barbecue uncovered, weather permitting. Put away sun umbrellas and other summer items.


How To Balance & Properly Arrange Your Potted Plants

There are no rules set in stone when it comes to designing with potted plants. The most amazing outdoors spaces are created using imagination, not just following a set of rules but certain combinations just simply POP. It’s what’s different that captures attention, not what looks the same as everything else.

It’s hard to go wrong with great looking planters full of blooming flowers. Still, things can start to look awkward if you don’t follow a few key landscape design rules. Pairing the basics with your own creativity and eye for design will help your potted plants fit in with the rest of your landscape. Here’s a few tricks for ya!


1. Think of Potted Plant Arrangements As A Sculpture

If you have a cluster of potted plants, how do you know if they all fit well together? Potted plants might not remind you of a sculpture, but that’s exactly how you can think of them to help decide if your collection of potted plants works or not.

In order to view your cluster of potted plants as a sculpture, imagine if they were all attached, would the design still work or would it appear awkward? While all plants and planters can vary, overall they need to flow into one cohesive form when arranged together.

2. Give Planters A Purpose

Planters that serve a purpose help ensure that your planters don’t look awkward or out of place. A walkway or set of stairs is a great way to utilize potted plants so that they serve a purpose and look great. You can frame stairs with planters on either side. Even flat paths can be accented with planters, as this can create the border you need to break up landscaping appropriately.

Parallel rows of potted plants make a scenic walkway and can include different types of flowers, including various sized planters. Just make sure there is some sort of pattern to ensure it flows well. When arranging potted plants on stairs you can use even more diversity because the stairs help hold it all together.


3. Planters Need Patterns

You don’t need to keep all of you potted plants the same; after all, diversity is what makes landscaping unique. Container gardening can include a mix of plants and planters, so long as there is an underlying theme. Without a consistent pattern throughout, your garden display might seem confusing or poorly put together. For instance, an underlying theme could be white roses. These should be planted throughout the garden, breaking up the other diverse plants throughout. Having a common flower pattern in a display is refreshing and helps the eye notice all of the distinctive differences instead of feeling overwhelmed.

4. Potted Plants Must Match

By match we don’t mean to keep all of your planters and plants the same. We encourage color and size variations, just make sure you pick the right pot for the right flower in order to create a look that works. If a plant is too small, too big, or too vibrant for a certain planter it won’t look right. Also, if the main colors of a flower don’t go well with the shade of the planter, it can take away from the natural beauty.

So how do you make sure that your plants and planters match? For starters, take note of the surrounding colors, either already in the garden or on nearby structures. You can use these colors as a base, finding ways to highlight them throughout your landscape design.

To ensure your plants match the planters, you should first purchase (or at least plan for) the plants you want to use that work well in your environment. Then you should look into buying the appropriate planters. Not only for your plants to flourish in, but that will help accentuate the colors present in your foliage.


5. Tall, Short, Fat, & Thin—Make Planter Diversity A Priority

If your entire garden is all one height you are at risk for creating a look that no one notices. If your plants are displayed at different levels, more details will be noticeable.

Planters come in a wide variety of sizes, from very small to very large. It’s common for people to get overwhelmed by very large planters, but be careful that you don’t end up with only small planters. Oversize planters can make a grand statement to your overall landscape design.

While some potted plants offer more leverage than others in terms of height, none can lift your plants that high off the ground. In order to give certain planters more leverage, stack your planters on top of bricks, stones, or any sort of platform.

Another way to add height is by adding potted plants that grow into vines, which can then attach to nearby walls or other supporting surfaces.

6. Sometimes You Have To Think Small

When planning an entire landscaping project, the little details often get lost in the rush to make everything look good. Every corner of your garden can tell a different tale, in other words you can spread miniature themes throughout for a look that still comes together.

Use a porch or shady corner to add a table of potted plants, all of which grow different spices. Or, create a cluster of cactus plants potted in diverse pots. Just because you have a small section of spices or cactus plants doesn’t mean you have to add them throughout the rest of your landscaping. Instead, little details can be exclusive and offer a great conversation piece. So long as one space is not overstated, the rest of your landscaping should retain a cohesive appearance.

7. All in One Planter—Full Looking Planters Are A Must

Make sure that your plants fill out their planters, for most plants you don’t want the soil to be visible from a distance. Instead you want pots that are bursting full of foliage, which might take more than one plant to obtain. Not all plants have to be the same type either, as long as they require the same amount of sun and water, diverse plant breeds can grow well together. Just like in a garden bed, you can layer plants in a planter so that bursts of color sneak out of bright green pockets of grasses or ferns.


8. Create Cohesive Cluster Planters

Groups of planters can look incredible paired together, just so long as they fit well together. If you are struggling to make a group of potted planters look good grouped together, try this simple trick. Place one large pot at the center and then add smaller plants around the outside to adorn and decorate. This will draw the eye to the focal point, but also offer a lot of beauty in the surrounding pots as well.

For a more informal look you can add an odd number of pots into a cluster group. If you use an even number of pots this gives a more formal look.


Fail Proof Trick To Make Container Plants Fit In With Your Landscaping

Even with all of these trips and tricks for potted planters, are you still concerned if your display looks good or not? The easiest way to design a symmetrical look with planters (and landscaping in general) is to start with 2 different types of plants. Then, select a third plant, which will be your focal point. Your focal plant should be your brightest and most diverse display, used less frequently than your other 2 plants.  Good luck and show us what you created this fall.  As they’re many falls plants  and flowers to choose from.

Here’s our favorites:

  1. Balloon Flower
  2. Snake Root
  3. Sweet Allysum
  4. Celosia
  5. Michaelmas Daisy
  6. Beauty Berry
  7. Goldren Rod
  8. Heather

and SO MANY MORE!  CLICK HERE to see 15 Best Fall Flower & Plants from House Beautiful!


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