Autumn Gardening Ideas for Filling in Bare Spots

If your autumn beds and borders are starting to show a few bare spots due to dormant plants, don't worry. Here some quick and easy fixes for filling in the gaps.


Decorate with seasonal accents. Shop fall garage sales, flea markets, and craft stores to stock up on seasonal accents. Then use them to fill in bare spots in your garden beds and borders. The key is to choose decor in colors and styles that match your garden. For example, a scarecrow or garden banner can add the perfect touch of whimsy to a rustic, country-style garden. A formal garden might call for an elegant urn filled with cut branches, or a small metal sculpture.

Look for these:

  • pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and gourds

  • banners and signs with seasonal themes

  • statuary and iron work

  • large interesting rocks or driftwood

  • old crocks, crates, and baskets to use as containers

  • dried willow sticks or grape vines

  • corn shocks and straw bales

  • sorghum stems (also known as broom corn)

  • red or gold colored ornamental grasses

  • ribbon or bows made of nature fibers like raffia

  • premade garlands and wreaths featuring fall leaves, sunflowers, fruits, and berries

Get creative with your containers. Autumn is a great time to utilize the mobility of your container plants and relocate them to parts of the garden where you need more color. Refresh tired plantings with seasonal plants like chrysanthemums and ornamental kale. Don't be afraid to mix things up by adding in some ornamental grasses or cut branches. Keep your container plants well watered throughout the fall, and don't forget to remove them in time to make way for emerging spring plants.

Make a Pumpkin Planter:

Nothing says autumn quite like pumpkins, so why not use them as containers to hold your potted plants? Here are a few quick tips for making a simple pumpkin planter.


  • Instead of placing potting soil and plants directly into the pumpkin (which promotes rot), plant them in a plastic nursery pot first, and then slide the pot into the hollowed out pumpkin. Take a 6 to 8-inch pot along when shopping for pumpkins to make sure you get one large enough.

  • To prepare the pumpkin planter, cut an opening in the top large enough to accommodate the pot. Scoop out the insides and cut a 1-inch drainage hole at the bottom. The pumpkin will last longer if you coat the inside with Wilt-proof ® spray (pay special attention to the area around the top and the drainage hole). For a great seasonal display, combine ornamental kales with pansies, asters, cape daisies, or chrysanthemums.

  • Before sliding the plastic pot inside the pumpkin, water the plants thoroughly and let the pot drain completely.

Fill bare spots with late bloomers. Sometimes the best way to fill in the gaps between dormant plants is to use late season annuals that come in fall colors-like marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and cockscomb. Set out transplants or sow seeds as soon as your early bloomers show signs of decline. Pinch them back in mid-summer to encourage compact, bushy growth.


Annual vines, like "Empress of India" or "Canary Creeper" nasturtiums are also great choices. Not only do they grow quickly to fill in empty spaces, their peppery edible flowers also make a beautiful addition to seasonal dishes.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.

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