Fall Outdoor Cleaning Checklist
Raking leaves is not the only chore you should be tackling this fall before winter sets in. There are plenty of outdoor tasks that you should be doing to your home and backyard to get ready for the cold months.
Deck and Patio
Before your outdoor entertainment area heads into hibernation, give it a quick bath. Yes, a bath. Hose down your patio and deck–this will keep it from growing mold or fungi which can stain the surface when spring arrives. If you have a wood deck and notice that water is soaking in the wood, you should apply a water sealant before winter arrives. Next, hose down all patio furniture and dry it off–opting to either cover items for the long winter months or store them inside. Click here for more ideas on cleaning your outdoor furniture.
After you’re done with the hose, you can wind it up and store it inside the garage or basement so the hose doesn’t freeze. Don’t forget to bring clay pots and planters inside too–once water gets inside the soil and freezes, it will expand and crack the planter.
Clean out your gutters and downspouts, making sure all debris and dead leaves are removed by flushing them with water. Repair any loose or damaged areas so that the gutters will work properly during the icy winter months and in the spring during the big thaw.
A change of season is the perfect time to re-organize your garage–a task that not only looks good, but saves you money. According to Erica Ecker, a professional organizer in NYC, people with cluttered garages waste time searching for misplaced items and end up re-buying things they already own.
Empty out your garage and go through each item–tossing or recycling things that are broken, returning borrowed items and donating things you may no longer need. Consider creating zoned areas–an area for tools, toys, etc.–and replace all summer items (lawnmower–empty fuel first) with more cold-weather equipment (shovels). This way, you will have the most-used items in an easy-to-reach location. Reuse things you already have for organization–such as old jars for storing nuts & bolts and garbage cans for storing salt to be used on icy sidewalks.
Need more space? Look up. Install shelving to get things off the floor and use hooks to hang bulkier items such as bikes and ladders. If you still feel you are living in cramped corners, put seasonal items into a storage facility.
Front and Backyard
Thinking of skipping the fall leaf raking? Think again. Raking the leaves is important because it keeps your grass from drying out over the winter. After you’ve raked, it’s important to weed and feed the lawn. Fall is the best time to do this so that your grass will be greener and thicker in the spring. Then give your grass one final cut – cut it short and bag up the clippings (or toss in your compost bin!) so bacteria and insects don’t have anywhere to flourish during the winter months.
In your garden, trim dead limbs from trees, cut back perennials, add mulch around young plants and plant new shrubs. “Planting shrubs in early fall gives the plants a head start at establishing roots in the season’s cool, most soil,” suggests ThisOldHouse.com.
If you have a built-in lawn sprinkler system, you’ll need to call the company who installed the system to come out and winterize it for the colder months. Call them early so you can get an appointment before the first freeze comes!
After the yard has been raked and cleared, walk around the outside of your house and seal any cracks or holes that need to be filled in your foundation and caulk open areas such as where pipes are entering the house or around window frames. This will keep heat from escaping as well as ensure you won’t have any unwelcome cold-weather company (think insects and rodents).
Talk to us: What is the one outdoor task you always do in the fall?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Andrea_44