Nature, it seems, is a fan of Halloween. She litters the ground with appropriately-hued splendor; pops out pumpkins in time for carving; and turns the trees to gnarly skeletons before our very eyes.
She is in the spirit long before we slouch in with fake spider webs and jack-o'-lanterns to top off her work.
Still, what fun it is to top off, no?
For those looking to add extra boo to their home's autumnal facade, consider these suggestions from local design centers and craft stores.
Rich Designs Home flower designer Marcia Wurm suggests lining front walkways with seasonally-themed luminaries made from miniature pumpkins.
Take an even number of small pumpkins, available at most grocery stores or markets, cut a lid and hollow them out. Then, pierce holes throughout using a power drill. Place a votive candle inside each and use the pumpkins to accent a walkway, stoop or stairs.
"It makes for a fun, autumn look that's not necessarily doing the witches or ghosts or standard jack-o'-lantern thing," said Beth Martin, who works with Wurm at Rich Designs. "It's really easy and it's really pretty, especially if you're having people over or it's trick-or-treat and kids are coming up the sidewalk."
The front door and porch
Formable deco mesh, which is available by the spool in a vast array of colors, is a popular option for folks seeking a unique, do-it-yourself wreath that can be updated with the changing seasons, said Claudia Almanza, assistant manager and designer at Hobby Lobby on 8th Avenue.
Once the mesh is fashioned into a wreath, often around a wire or wood form, it can then be wrapped with holiday lights, single stalks or bunches of dried wheat, as well as a range of miniature themed embellishments available at the crafts store.
Deco mesh and lights can also be used to dress up a dried grapevine garland, affixed to the door or strategically arranged around the frame.
"With the wire mesh, you can use any dried garland and decorate it out," Almanza said. "You can use it for Halloween and for the whole fall, so you don't have to change it out."
To balance the look, stage the porch with rustic containers filled with dried corn and wheat bunches, and planters with orange and yellow mums. Of course, don't forget the pumpkins.
Dried grapevine garlands also work well for dressing up a mailbox and post, said Janet Finan, manager at Michaels craft store on Powers Boulevard.
Small gourds, faux spider webs, plastic spider rings and even glow sticks can be hung from the branches, using wire or Christmas ornament hooks.
Michaels also offers custom, laser-cut pumpkins - boasting the words or design of your choosing - in three sizes, the smallest of which could be secured to the top of a mailbox, say, with a greeting (or spooky message) for trick-or-treaters.
"On the Michaels website (www.michaels.com), you'll find lots of project ideas, along with product suggestions and materials," she said.
The front yard
At Phelan Gardens, co-owner Mark Phelan likes to think "harvest" more than "Halloween" when it comes to yard adornments.
His suggestion: Corn stalks, hay bales and pumpkins. All can serve both decorative and practical purposes this time of year, he said.
"Hay bales can be used for decoration. Then after Halloween you can put the straw in your garden or put it around plants to use as mulch, as a kind of a blanket for your plants. That's what people in the know do," Phelan said. "As for the pumpkins, you can carve them or use them as decorations and then eat them if they're small enough. The small ones are sweeter than the large ones."
For a gift that keeps on giving, get some old clothes and stuff them with straw to fashion a scarecrow. If it's sturdy enough, top it with a hollowed-out pumpkin head.
It's sure to make an impression.
Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364