Fall is Here, Is Your Home Ready?
The warm array of autumn colors dotting the landscape indicate that it’s time to prep your home for the long winter. Get your home, lawn, and garden ready for cold weather with these tips.
- Start in the garage. Organize the tools you’ll need for fall and winter home and garden maintenance so they’re easy to access. If leaves have made their way into your garage, sweep or blow them out, and then use a shop vacuum to suck up any leftover dirt and debris. Using a shop vac is an important step, because along with grime, leaves have a way of bringing pests in with them, and this model of vacuum is designed for just that.
- Clean the gutters and downspouts. Double check that drainage areas are clear and any drain extensions have not wiggled loose over the summer.
- Check the wood around your windows, doors, deck, and railings for rot. Replace wood as necessary and re-caulk and replace weatherstripping around windows and doors to keep cold air out.
- Fall is a great time to give your exterior a makeover by painting the shutters, soffit and fascia, mailbox, doors, and window boxes.
- Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional chimney sweep.
- Contact your local HVAC contractor to have your heating system inspected before the first frost.
- Check your roof for missing shingles, leaks, and damage.
- Check your driveway and walkway for cracks, repair any damage, and apply a high-quality sealant. Bob Vila explains this is especially important for an asphalt driveway, as sealing will extend its useful life.
- Clean your home thoroughly and rid yourself of anything you haven’t used since last season. You’ll be spending much more time indoors soon and will want to enjoy a tidy environment.
- Fertilize turf grass and sew cool season grasses, such as fescue. Doing this before the first freeze will allow time for germination. Ensure your lawn has adequate nutrients, as many grasses can store carbohydrates throughout the winter and grow back fuller and brighter come spring.
- Rake leaves once a week; thick layers of wet leaves can compact and suffocate the lawn below.
- Drain your irrigation system. If your system does not have drain valves, hire a professional irrigation company to clear water from the pipes. This will avoid busted sprinkler heads.
- Aerate and fertilize your lawn.
- Remove water hoses from outdoor spigots. According to House Logic, this should be done in early fall before the first cold snap, as water trapped inside can freeze and expand, causing costly damage to your home.
- Davey, a nationwide tree services company, says to prune trees after the leaves have fallen. This will help minimize potential damage during the winter when heavy ice can create a dangerous situation.
- Divide or move perennials in early fall; mulch hearty varieties.
- Plant cover crops. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University explains that cover crops are useful for suppressing weeds, reducing surface crusting, balancing nitrogen levels, and suppressing diseases and pests.
- Add slow-release fertilizer to encourage a more abundant crop come spring.
- Cover exposed beds with compost. Feed your garden through the winter with a thick layer of compost and mulch. This will keep soil microbes active in cold weather. Rodale’s Organic Life further recommends adding a layer of straw or hay for added protection.
- Leave a few plants with berries and seeds to attract birds. This will liven up your winter landscape.
- Clean and dry all garden tools, and move them undercover to prevent rust.
Be safe when working in the home, lawn, or garden, regardless of season. Always have a second responsible adult available to hold the ladder and help with lifting heavy objects. Don’t work in the yard at night, and open the windows if you’re cleaning with chemicals.
By taking the time to treat your home with care this fall, you’ll ensure a more enjoyable winter and a more productive spring when warm weather arrives. For more must-do fall maintenance tips, visit the DIY Network online.
Author: Clara Beaufort
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