Sunset over a grassy field with hundreds of pumpkins laid out as far as the eye can see.
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By John Patrick Pullen
September 22, 2017

Friday is the first day of fall, and after a long, hot summer people are ready to celebrate the 2017 autumn equinox with a weekend full of fun. But it’s still early for a lot of the activities, so what can you do? Here are five ways to make the most of your first fall weekend.

1. Buy your pumpkin now.

Not to start off autumn with an alarm, but if the Great Thanksgiving Pumpkin Shortage of 2015 is any indicator, you may want to buy your pumpkin early this year. In October 2015, it appeared there would be a pumpkin shortage by Thanksgiving, due to higher-than-normal rainfall during June’s growing season in Morton, Ill., where approximately 85% of the country’s orange squashes come from. That caused a panic, though eventually everyone got their fill.

Last year the crop rebounded nicely, but this year, Morton’s rainfall is higher than it was in 2016, (though less than it was in 2015). The long and short of it is this: Buy your grocery store pumpkins sooner rather than later, unless you’re out of your gourd. (Note: Technically speaking, pumpkins aren’t gourds.)

2. Plant next summer’s lawn today.

Want the neighbors to be green with envy over your grass next summer? Start putting in the work today, say the lawn wranglers over at Scotts. The best way to ensure that your grass remains healthy, strong, and well established come summertime is to begin working on it in autumn.

If you haven’t already, start by feeding your grass, something that ideally you should’ve been done in early September. Once that’s done and absorbed into the soil, reseed your lawn to patch all the holes left behind after a summer of hard playing in the yard. Then, a month or two after the first feeding, you’ll want to give the grass another dose of fertilizer to carry it through the colder months. The air may only be a little crisp at the moment, but as they say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.”

3. Be first to the pumpkin patch.

If you’re one for picking your own pumpkin, plan to get there before the crowds because—and not to sound like an overbearing parent here—there will be crowds. That means pack the car the night before, wake up and leave early, make sure you have snacks and water, and be ready for traffic, because parking at u-pick farms can be scarier than anything you’ll see at Halloween.

That said, there are a lot of patches to hit, just visit The Pumpkin Patch Guide to find one near you. And if you’re not going to be first, at least be well prepared by buying a collapsable outdoor utility wagon, which is great for hauling pumpkins, toddlers, or both.

4. Plan for peak fall foliage.

Optimal leaf-peeping time isn’t yet upon us, but if you want to sneak a peak at the current conditions near you or around the country, The Weather Channel has rolled out its Fall Foliage Maps for 2017.

As of this writing, (and depending on where you’re reading this from) the scenery still looks sparse. But you can forecast when the colors will begin to pop in your area using this guide from The Smoky Mountains. Keep in mind, the website notes, “While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.”

5. Enjoy pumpkin spice everything.

If you’re a fan of Starbuck’s pumpkin spice lattes, you already know the Seattle-based coffee chain has been pushing their signature fall drink since August. (And if you’re not, you can cozy up to their new alternative, the maple pecan latte.) But there’s more, like Krispy Kreme doughnuts (sorry, you missed them), craft beer, Cheerios, pizza of course, and even body spray.

With all these products, it begs the question: Why are we so obsessed with pumpkin spice? Sadly, no one has time to answer. They’re all too busy consuming pumpkin spice everything.

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