We are just coming out of an 80+ degree weather spell so that makes it a little hard to think about fall and winter decorations, but where we live waiting a day could mean the difference between the 80 degrees and a foot of snow. We are hosting the family Christmas this year so I have been looking for ways to make our outdoors as pretty and festive as the indoors. One of the things I would like to do is light the two trees we have in our front garden so they are a treat to see when you come up the driveway. Now days there are so many options in string lights it can make your head spin, but my suggestion if you live in an area with limited snow cover is to consider Solar lights, not only do you not have to worry about plugging them in each night but you will save on your electric bill as well. Hammacher Schlemmer has a 32.9' strand that is guaranteed for 10,000 hours of light and includes two rechargeable batteries in red, green, blue or white for only $59.95. If you plan to order more than one set be sure to use coupon code WWGRDN, good for free shipping on any order over $85.00.
Even less expensive than lighting is using your existing planters that held all your beautiful flowers during the summer and switching them out for fall. All you need are some things collected from the outdoors, dried grasses with feathery tops, fall branches with colored leaves (these you can change out when the leaves fall) a few branches from Curly Willow, a Walking Stick plant or twisted branches, and some evergreen. All you really need to do is place these items right into your dirt you used for your flowers. If you keep the dirt watered you will keep your grasses a little longer, but remember, in a very cold climate freezing will make it hard to get your items out to switch for the Holidays if you want, and it may also damage your container.
When the weather does get cold enough to freeze consider using that to your advantage. If you have a large bucket, spray the inside with a non stick spray and fill it with water, then take a smaller container with the outside sprayed with non stick spray and place it in the center (it may float around a little but the next step will help stabilize it) Next you will need items you would like to see in the ice, things like sliced oranges, acorns, bright leaves, small pine cones, red berries, cloves and star anise work great for this. Place your decorative items around the middle container then cover with plastic wrap to keep everything from coming up over the top, if you need to you can place something heavier on the top over the plastic wrap. Then freeze outside in the cold weather. When its all set, the two containers should be easy to remove and you will have a beautiful glass like container for outside your front door that looks great with either a battery or solar flicker light or a little tea candle in it.
I would love to hear your creative and low cost or no cost ideas! If you need more inspiration check out the articles at About.com, they have a whole section devoted to outdoor decorating. I hope you are all having a great weekend.