You know the familiar sensations. Evenings feel a bit shorter, mornings a tad cooler. There’s a different scent in the air that nips and whispers . . . autumn. Giddy with anticipation, we await warm, fuzzy sweaters, flames in the fireplace, gatherings of friends and family, and pumpkin spice everything. But before we move too far into the season, let’s make some preparations. Now that the temperatures are dropping, fall is the best time to spruce up the lawn to prepare for winter and plant some cooler weather plants for those pops of color. Before you light that fire in the fireplace, have your chimney cleaned and inspected for safety. Consider an inspection to prevent pests from finding their way into your cozy home during winter. And it’s not too early to think about decorating your home for Halloween and Thanksgiving! Read on for details.
Design is in Our Nature: Multi-Functional Decorating Fosters Warm, Cozy, Get-Together Vibes for Home this Fall
by Victoria Ellender
Come on in! Make yourself at home. This fall, we’re decorating with togetherness in mind, focusing our attention on welcoming transitional spaces and open concepts. After two years of distance during the pandemic, this year’s fall décor reflects our innate desire for connection—bringing clean, natural elements indoors and setting our dining tables for laughter and meaningful conversations.
Natural wood elements, pampas grass and mixed metals form the backdrop this fall, with warm earthy tones and occasional pops of color infused throughout for a clean, bright aesthetic. Brittany DeRouen, owner of Sway Boutique in Moss Bluff, La., said that people are aiming for natural, cozy elements that make their home feel warm and inviting.
“Before it was all pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows,” Derouen said. “Now, we’re still seeing that but instead of traditional gourds, people are opting for warm, wool pumpkins and lots of deep fall tones with occasional pops of color like pink, blue and even white for accents.”
Sway Boutique is an all-around gift shop in Moss Bluff that carries gifts for every occasion, baby and children’s items, fashion and home décor. Derouen said her customers are especially excited this year to decorate their homes for the fall season.
“One thing we’ve noticed this year is that people have started planning for fall earlier than ever. We started getting questions about fall décor early in the summer, and we have noticed an overall desire to start fresh with new color palettes in their homes since COVID-19,” Derouen said. “It’s like people want to make their homes cozy and inviting, and celebrate being together again.”
A major theme for interiors in 2022 is biophilic design, bringing nature indoors with fresh, green plants, atriums and outdoor elements. We’re harvesting that same trend for fall with natural wood elements and earth tones that reflect Mother Nature’s autumn glow.
“A lot of the traditional holiday décor is being pared back a bit and we’re seeing people focus on bringing those natural elements to the forefront. It’s about creating that cozy space to gather and enjoy being together,” Derouen said.
Spooky Gets Cozy
Even Casper is invited this fall, with Halloween décor also focused on transitions between interior and exterior. People are using warm, bright lights to guide people to the backyard for gatherings around the bonfire, and decking out their lawns with larger than life displays that evoke feelings of eerie fun and excitement.
Together is Better
For Thanksgiving, designers are utilizing natural elements and neutral palettes, with warm nostalgic overtones of plaid and checkered designs to set the table. Making memories is the goal for our gatherings this year, with fun and creative ideas to come together.
“Everything is focused around comfort and connection this year, bringing people of all ages together. One idea I’ve seen is spreading brown paper out as a runner centerpiece for the dining table for everyone to write something their thankful for,” Derouen said. “These kinds of activities and together-focused concepts are extremely popular.”
Sway Boutique is located at 271 Highway 171 North in Moss Bluff.
Add a Palate of Color to your Yard
by Alexis Allured
In Southwest Louisiana, we can have abundant color in our landscape all year round! There are many great options when it comes to adding colorful cool season bedding plants to flowerbeds. LSU Ag Center’s Super Plants are a go-to, with many field-tested cultivars of dianthus, petunias, violas, and delphiniums, just to name a few. Vista Bubblegum Supertunias can withstand temperatures down to the 20s, are more heat tolerant than other cultivars, and flourish from October through May. Amazon dianthus is a full sun lover, has deep green foliage, and when planted in the fall will continue to produce blooms through early summer, attracting butterflies. Ornamental cabbage and kale make a great option for cool weather background plants that add a variety of color and texture to landscape beds.
Prior to installing your fashionable fall color, be sure to make landscape bed preparation a priority, as this will make a difference in the performance of the plants.
Fall cleanup to clear out disease or pest infested plant matter is essential.
For best results, remove any weeds, spread organic matter, and apply fertilizer. Mulch installation is another important component of healthy and aesthetically balanced landscape beds. Mulch not only adds much needed contrasting color, but also hinders weeds, regulates moisture, and provides insulation against freezing temperatures.
The best time to plant trees and shrubs in Louisiana to ensure successful establishment and root growth is between October and March. This time frame allows plants and shrubs to adjust to their new home before the stressful heat of summertime sets in. Even plants which are dormant in cooler temperatures will store nutrients and generate root development during winter. Come springtime, the newly planted shrubs will be strong and ready to show off vibrant foliage and blooms!
Lawns require fall care, too! Fertilizer stimulates lush fall growth but do not apply beyond mid-November as this could make warm season grasses more susceptible to cold injury. Some fungi are more active in winter months and may need treatment to prevent damage to turfgrass.
Cool-season grass, such as ryegrass, can be used for overseeding existing lawns in October to extend the lawn’s green color through the winter months. Even though mowing should not be as often, it is still important to mow regularly to maintain proper height.
Fall in Southwest Louisiana is a great time for planting, enjoying time outdoors, and preparing your landscaping for the next season of growth!
Alexis Allured and her husband, Nathaniel, own The Grounds Guys in Lake Charles. She is passionate about the green industry and enjoys learning and helping to educate others. Alexis holds all licenses for The Grounds Guys which include Louisiana Licensed Landscape Horticulturist, Irrigation Contractor, Commercial Pesticide Applicator and Louisiana State Board for Contractors Licensed Landscape Contractor. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Doctorate in Pharmacy.
For more information, call The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles at 337-242-3903.
Focus on Fall Pests
As the temperatures drop in the fall, pests begin searching for food and a warm place to hide out. Often their chosen shelter is inside your home.
“In this area, we see a lot of roach and rodent infestations when things start to cool off,” says Keith Dubrock, owner of McKenzie Pest Control. “If it’s a particularly rainy season, we’ll see ants getting into homes looking for high ground.” All of these pests cause costly damage to homes if they’re not removed quickly.”
It can be hard to know exactly how to deter these pests; however, Dubrock says there are some universally effective steps you can take to prevent pest invasions this fall.
Seal off entry points. “It sounds simple, but if pests can’t get into your home, they can’t cause damage to it,” says Dubrock. “It’s a good practice to look for places on the exterior of your house where pests could get in and seal those up.” Dubrock adds that no crack or gap is too small for pests to enter through. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime and some insects only need paper-thin openings to get through.
Eliminate food sources. In cool weather, pests flock to food sources in warm places. That means that your kitchen and pantry are at high risk for pest issues in the fall. “The smallest crumbs will draw in roaches and rodents,” says Dubrock. He suggests keeping food off your counters, storing dry goods in airtight containers and not leaving dirty dishes in the sink.
Keep up with yard maintenance. In the fall, you don’t have to mow your grass or trim shrubs as often, but completely taking the season off yard maintenance will draw in pests. Dubrock says rodents that don’t make their way inside your house will look for some sort of cover. That could be in your grass or overgrown shrubs.
Don’t forget termite prevention. “People don’t consider termites a threat in the fall, but it’s the prime time to install a prevention system,” says Dubrock. In cool weather, termites move back to their colonies underground and search for food. Prevention systems like the ones installed by McKenzie Pest Control’s technicians provide an inground food source for termites that’s ultimately deadly, eliminating whole colonies before they ever have a chance to swarm and invade.
When to call a pest management service? If you don’t already use a residential pest management service, the best time to get started is before you have a pest problem. Dubrock says that pest prevention services save homeowners money long term. “If bugs and other pests can’t make it into your home, then you avoid paying for extermination services and damage repairs.”
If think you have an invasion and you don’t have services in place already, the earlier you call a professional, the better. Your home may not need to be treated as frequently as you would think. Depending on your needs, services can be monthly, bimonthly or quarterly.
McKenzie Pest Control has been serving SWLA since 1951. Locally owned and operated, they provide superior pest-control services and specialize in termite treatment and prevention, flea and tick treatment and general pest management. To schedule a free consultation, call McKenzie Pest Control at 337-478-7826.
Go fora Clean Sweep this Fall
by Matt Dye
As we get closer to autumn and those chilly nights, there are several maintenance issues around the house to attend to. One that often gets overlooked, if you have a fireplace, is cleaning out the chimney. Do this before you light your first log of the season, whether for warmth or ambiance, to help ensure a safer season around the fire.
Each year, nearly 250,000 housefires occur due to lack of proper chimney cleaning. This happens due to a buildup of creosote – a carcinogen created from tar and other waste from the burning of wood. Creosote can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it extremely hard to put out once it is lit. This is the primary hazard eliminated during a chimney sweep. You’ll also remove leaves, dust and other debris, and maybe a bird’s nest or two.
As complicated as it might look, cleaning your chimney on your own only takes a couple tools and a few simple steps:
Gather your tools. You’ll need a chimney brush with extension rods. It is helpful to have one just a little wider than the size of your chimney opening. You’ll also need a screw gun/drill, a screwdriver for your chimney cap, a ladder, a tarp or plastic sheeting, and duct tape. You’ll also need a mask, gloves, and safety goggles for protection. If you don’t already have these items, create a shopping list.
Go on your roof and measure your chimney opening. First, remove the chimney cap. This is also the time where you may finally see if you still have a chimney cap after the hurricanes or if you ever had one to begin with. If your chimney cap is missing, this should be another item to add to your shopping list.
After assembling your tools, cover your inside fireplace opening with tarp or plastic and tape in place. A shop-vac can come in handy but isn’t a dealbreaker.
Head back to the roof, connect your brush to the extension rods, and attach the rods to the drill. Insert the brush in the chimney, run the drill, and begin to work off all the soot and creosote built-up in your flue. Inspect the flue, using a flashlight, if necessary, to ensure there’s no leftover build-up. Once it looks clean, put the chimney cap back on, head back to the fireplace, and safely clean out the fallen debris. Also, if you have a clean-out door in the back, remember to clean that as well.
This should help ensure a clean burning fire for all your fall and winter events or those quiet, cozy evenings at home, allowing proper airflow and reducing the chance of an unexpected housefire.
If heights aren’t your thing and the thought of being on roofs terrifies you, call a local professional chimney expert to make your day easier and your fireplace cleaner and safer.
Fall Into a Beautiful Lawn
by Kristy Como Armand
Many people work diligently during the spring and summer to ensure that their yard and everything in it is lushly landscaped, perfectly mowed, trimmed and weed-free. Then, when the first cold front arrives, the mower and gardening tools are packed away until spring returns.
But, according to the professionals at Landscape Management Services in Lake Charles, you shouldn’t ignore your yard at any time of the year, and that includes cooler months. There is work to be done now that will set the stage for a healthier start next spring.
“Fall is the best time of year to trim hedges and trees,” says Chad Everage with Landscape Management. “Not only will this mean you have fewer leaves to rake, but it also improves the appearance of your yard.” He advises identifying and removing dead or diseased limbs first, and then cutting back excessive growth and trimming shrubs into the desired shape.
“You also need to fertilize your lawn in the fall to give grass needed nutrients for the winter, which is when the top layer of grass is dormant while the root systems continue to grow,” explains Everage. “Roots easily absorb and store nutrients during this time, and fall fertilizing will also help your lawn ‘go green’ faster in early spring.” The type of fertilizer you need varies depending on the type of grass you have, and Everage says you may want to ask a landscape expert for some guidance in choosing the right one for your lawn. He also recommends raking or mulching leaves to keep your lawn healthy over the winter months. If you are establishing a new lawn, he suggests you use sod and fertilize as soon as possible. “This late in the growing season, try to get it laid by mid-October.”
Everage says it’s important not to stop mowing your grass just because the weather is cooler. Raise the height on your lawn mower to leave a blade that is two-and-a-half to three inches tall throughout the fall. This is the optimum height for preventing diseases in winter while still providing your grass the self-sufficiency it needs to store food for the coming months.
“Late October through March is the prime season for planting hardy trees, shrubs and ground covers in Louisiana, so now is an excellent time to assess your landscape situation and begin to make plans,” advises Everage. “The benefits of a well-planned landscape are many, from providing shade, privacy and color, to correcting drainage problems and creating outdoor living areas for your family to enjoy. Beautiful landscaping also increases the value of your home.”
He says most homeowners have no trouble dealing with small projects themselves. “Planting a tree, designing a flower garden or planting beds around a deck are perfect do-it-yourself projects. Designing an overall landscape, including drainage, outdoor living areas and major planting, may require some expert design advice and/or installation assistance, depending on the capabilities of the homeowner. It may also be something you add to in stages over time. We’re always here to help, whatever the size of the project, and whether you just need advice and supplies, or a full design and install.”
For more information on landscape planning, call Landscape Management at call (337) 478-3836 or visit www.landscapemanagement.org.