A summer patio is designed with the heat of sunshine in mind--umbrella shades, water toys and colorful blooms. Dressing a patio for fall means thinking about the change in weather, seasonal colors and fun icons that celebrate upcoming holidays and events.
In most regions of the country, fall means less potent sunshine, an earlier sunset and the onset of cooler breezes, especially in the evenings. Decorative and warming coverlets, candles, a fire pit and tall heat lamps or lanterns acknowledge this signature seasonal transition. Roll back shades, remove water containers and push green, leafy potted plants to the edges. Make space for fall's decorative touches.
The first items that come to mind for a fall patio include hay bales, pumpkins and other gourds, cornucopias and dried corn stalks. Beyond these traditional fall materials, a small wheelbarrow planted with zinnias, a ceramic bowl filled with glass candies and old metal buckets containing with nuts in their shells (for the table) or filled with bocce balls (for the ground) offer guests fun conversation starters. For the rustic feel of fall, gather twigs, leaves and acorns in a large basket and stack old glass containers, twine and dried beans or corn nearby for a constant source of creative inspirations.
In all these efforts, seek the deep tones of fall--sunflower yellow, burnt orange, forest green and brick red. Table linens, furniture covers, blankets, plant containers and candles can mix and match these fall colors as well as common seasonal patterns like gentle plaids and simple paisleys. Fall colors can also guide the choice of seasonal items to use for decoration: a basket filled with apples and walnuts or a rustic terra cotta gourd planted with tiger lily, marigolds and geraniums capture the contrasts amongst deep red, dark saffron and carroty orange.