There’s just something about front porch mums and pumpkins that make for quintessential fall decorating. It’s become a tradition in our home, once September hits and those temps start to drop, it’s time to retire the dying summer blooms on our porch and replace them with colorful mums and real pumpkins (emphasis on real…never faux pumpkins by our front door).
I’ve been decorating our small front porch for the last 8 years, ever since Colby built the tiny deck the first fall we lived here. I even decorated it with mums and one sad pumpkin (I’ve come a long way since then!).
For reference, this is the main entry to our home but it is in the back of our house near the driveway, even though we often call this our front entry. Confused?! Me too.
The real front entry we’ve probably only used twice to call the runaway dog back inside. The poor old, double doors and our sad front steps are in terrible condition and need major rehabbing. But that’s a project and a post for another day.
Today, I’m sharing my favorite tips for how to decorate a simple, small front porch with mums and pumpkins.
Choose A Color Scheme
There are so many different colors of mums! Everything from yellow to orange, red mums, deep burgundy, pink, and even white mums. I typically shy away from the white mums since our home is white and I prefer some contrast in color. But over the years I’ve used every color of mums from yellow mums to this year’s purple and pink mums.
While there are so many different colors to choose from, try to reign it in and select a tight color scheme. You can go for a harmonious look matching mums to the fall colors in your yard. So yellows and oranges if the leaves are changing or purples if there are a lot of evergreens around.
My personal favorite is to use pink and purple mums. They look great against our white clapboard home with a green door and go well with the ornamental kale I mix in with the mums.
Although, as our oldest daughter has gotten more invested in the mum selection each year, I’ve relaxed my usual tight color scheme and often find her favorite colors of red mums and white mums mixed in with my preferred color palette. Wild, right?! Ha! But who am I to say no to a six-year-old’s creativity?!
Use Pots Of Different Heights
Add visual interest to your fall mums collection and use plant pots of different heights. Larger plants need taller pots than smaller mums, so keep this in mind when shopping.
I love to find unique, aged terracotta pots from a flea market or thrift store. I collect them throughout the year to create a cohesive collection of flower pots on my porch. Even if you buy new terracotta pots from the Home Depot or local garden centers, they do age in a couple of years.
Here’s my collection of flower pots of different heights filled with plants for the porch.
Utilize Other Fall Plants
Mums aren’t the only fall plants for fall porch decor. Mix in other fall plants and diversify your container garden.
I started using ornamental kale plants last year when I came across some gorgeous ones while shopping for mums at our local garden center. I love the purple varieties the best and how they tie into my typical color scheme of pink and purple mums.
Add Real Pumpkins
When it comes to adding outdoor fall decor, I tend to do it in stages. The last layer is always pumpkins. Particularly real pumpkins.
Usually around the end of September, the local pumpkin patch puts out their stacks of pumpkins for us to peruse. Our favorite tradition is to load the kids in the wagon, walk down to the local farm, pick out a wagon full of pumpkins, and tote them home. We always return loaded with a mix of white pumpkins and orange pumpkins in a variety of sizes.
Starting with the biggest pumpkins in your stash, layer them among your mums and kale. You can even take small pumpkins and place them in your largest pot of mums, kind of like mulch. It’s one of my favorite fall porch ideas I’ve seen and I may need to try it later this year.
Must return to the store for more pumpkins…she says with gusto while her husband looks at her quizzically.
Mix In Unique Heirloom Pumpkins
While using more common white pumpkins and orange pumpkins is great, go beyond traditional pumpkins and add some interest with unique heirloom pumpkins.
Some favorite heirloom pumpkins include:
- Jarrahdale – A smooth, blue-green colored pumpkin
- Porcelain Doll – A smooth, pink-ish colored pumpkin
- Marina Di Chioggia – A bumpy, blue-green colored pumpkin
- Knuckle Head – A wart-like orange pumpkin
Most years I grow these heirloom pumpkins in our garden. But alas, this was a record-breaking year for rain, flooding, and diseases in our garden and I kind of gave up. The poor pumpkins didn’t make it. But there’s always next year! Isn’t that what gardeners always say?!
Add An Outdoor Rug
I can’t possibly talk about fall decor ideas without talking about adding an outdoor rug. It’s the base of your fall porch decor, right up there with a fall wreath on the door.
Every couple of years our poor doormat starts falling apart. That’s when I typically purchase a new one or a small outdoor rug just in time for the fall porch.
This year, I went with an outdoor rug instead of my traditional doormat style. It’s this hand-woven jute rug from Amazon. The jury is out on whether or not this switch was a good idea. I question its durability and if it really is an outdoor rug. Although, now that I’m looking at it again, I’m fairly certain it’s an indoor rug and I ordered the wrong thing.
Hang A Fall Wreath
Hanging a fall wreath on the front door is another classic fall decor item. It’s a staple and a basic for fall porch decor.
I picked up our current fall wreath 8 years ago from a Target clearance endcap and have used it every fall and every spring to adorn our door. It’s held up great over the years, although this year I briefly debated switching it up with a wheat wreath.
Fall wreaths are everywhere. You can find them at Target, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, or even at your local hardware stores or garden centers. You can even make your own! Note to self…make own fall wreath next year.
Other Simple Fall Front Porch Decorating Ideas
There are many more options for simple fall front porch decorating ideas than just colorful mums and a collection of real pumpkins. They’re just my favorites and I’ve found a formula that works great for our small porch. Other items you can mix in:
- Corn stalks or other natural elements
- Black lanterns
- Hay bales
- Wooden crates
- Fall foliage
- Faux pumpkins
- Galvanized containers
- Wooden stools
My Fall Front Porch Decorating Process
Typical me, there’s a method to my madness…I mean fall porch decorating. I go through the same steps each year for setting up our fall porch. It’s an easy decorating project and one you can do with kids.
However, when decorating your porch with kids also factor in overspending at the garden center (who can so no to one more warty pumpkin?!), taking many snack breaks, and an intermission for the toddler to chase the barn cat around with the broom you were using to sweep the spider webs off the house. True story.
Start With A Blank Slate
The first thing I do to create a festive front entry is to do a reset. Everything comes off the porch, the summer flowers get composted, and the decking is cleaned. This is also the time I usually give our front door a fresh coat of paint or at least some touch-ups.
It’s like what The Nester (Myquillyn Smith) always touts, you have to quiet the room. Removing everything and quieting the space helps you see clearly the area you’re working in without all the noise.
Once everything is cleaned up and I have a blank slate, it’s time to start building it back up.
Ooof…now that I see this picture maybe it’s time we finally spring for a pressure washer to really clean up our porch.
Bring Out The Pots
Next, I break out the pots I want to use and tally up what I’m looking for. For me, I always look for two large mums for my biggest pots and two medium-sized mums for the medium-sized pots.
If you have a large collection of pots for a bigger porch, make a list on your phone or take pictures of the pots to help you shop for what you need.
Armed with a list and a vague plan, I go shopping for mums first and pumpkins if I come across some I love.
My oldest daughter (currently age 6) adores garden centers and shopping for flowers. I try to always take her with me. We have pics of her as a toddler helping lug flowers to my cart and to this day, those shopping moments together are some of my favorite memories.
I always pick out the largest mums first and those are “mom’s choice.” After that, she picks out small mums in colors she loves and we pick out a few ornamental kale plants as well.
Most garden centers also have pumpkins these days. While we do get our traditional pumpkins and carving pumpkins from our local farm, we often find unique heirloom pumpkin varieties at the local garden centers. Trader Joe’s is also a great place to find interesting pumpkins.
While shopping, don’t forget to pick up a bag or two of potting mix. I almost ALWAYS forget this and it’s back to the store I go. My current favorite is the organic self-watering potting mix from Gardener’s Supply.
With a trunk full of colorful mums and pumpkins rolling about, it’s time to get to work.
Another favorite family tradition in our home is potting the porch plants together.
I have this amazing potting bench that Colby built me many years ago, in my early days of blogging at our first home in Maine. I love that potting bench. It’s found a semi-permanent spot at our current home in Vermont on the front patio. Someday I would love to really configure and dress up this space but for now, it’s functional. I use this potting bench each spring and each fall to pot the deck flowers.
A few years ago, Colby built Rowan her own mini potting bench. She usually pots the smaller mums there while I pot the larger ones on my potting bench. This year our youngest daughter, Beatrix (age 2), also helped. Although she spent more time watering the weeds growing through the cracks in the patio than potting. It’s a start.
Arranging A Beautiful Porch
Next, we bring everything around to the porch area and start arranging the front porch mums and pumpkins layer by layer.
The first layer is hanging the wreath on the door and setting out the outdoor rug or doormat. It’s the base layer.
Next comes the base layer of mums. The most significant two pots flank the door followed by the medium-sized mums.
After that kale plants and the smaller mums are placed around them, along with the pumpkins. I always work the largest sizes down to the smallest sizes, adjusting where needed.
Before I know it, I have that layered look I’m going for with our front porch mums and pumpkins.
Adding In Halloween
As we get a little closer to Halloween, I’ll start layering in some spooky elements as well. The carved pumpkins and maybe some bats or witches’ brooms for whimsy. I love adding little touches here and there to adjust for the season as we go.
Pssst….Do you decorate with front porch mums and pumpkins? Do you have a favorite heirloom pumpkin? Mine’s the Jarrahdale for sure!!