Though it may not feel like it yet, fall is upon us.
Before you know it, these hot, humid days will turn cool and crisp. We’ll trade in breezy tank tops and flip flops for cozy sweaters and boots. Leaves will turn orange, red, and yellow, and trips to the mountains will replace trips to the beach.
But fall isn’t just about pumpkin spice lattes and football. In addition to transitioning our wardrobes and hobbies to reflect autumn, there are about a million and one things you should do to prepare your home, specifically the exterior, for the new season as well. From end-of-summer lawn maintenance to cold-weather preparation, a little extra effort between September and November can save you a lot of time, trouble, and money over the winter and into next spring.
First, tackle the yard. Thanks to increased moisture and cooler (but not cold) temperatures, fall is the perfect time to fertilize, seed, and aerate grass, as well as give it one final mow. A shorter lawn is less susceptible to disease and less likely to latch onto falling leaves, making for easier cleanup throughout leaf season. You should also plant new shrubs in the fall in order to give them time to take root, and trim dead limbs off existing ones to prevent further damage. Don’t forget the mulch: a thin layer of new mulch will serve as insulation for new plants during upcoming cold weather.
If you have a garden, end-of-season maintenance is equally as important as spring preparation. Whether you’re growing flowers or food, summer takes its toll on your plants and the soil they’re growing in. The experts at HGTV suggest weeding, replacing summer annuals with winter ones, and adding compost or peat moss to replenish the soil. Of course, if you’re planning to plant winter vegetables like peas or greens, now is the time to do that, too.
While most homeowners put off big projects like hardscaping, building outdoor kitchens, and installing pools and water features until the spring, it’s not a bad idea to get these projects started in late summer and early fall, either. By taking advantage of the off season for the contractors that provide these services, you will likely save money on your project. As an added bonus, you won’t have to wait to begin enjoying your outdoor living space come warm weather.
When you’re done in the yard, move on to the garage, which likely accumulated grass clippings, dirt, and other debris during the warm summer months, and will inevitably catch some fallen leaves in autumn. If you use a convenient tool like a backpack vacuum, this can actually be a quick job. Backpack vacs eliminate the need for sweeping, and they have longer cords, are more portable, and require less bending than shop vacuums. Once the garage is clean, move your lawn equipment inside of it to an out-of-the-way spot. Before you know it, it will be spring and you’ll be ready to bust it out again, but for now, it should be stored away from damaging outdoor winter elements.
Next, it’s time to get to work cleaning and maintaining the exterior of your home. For those surrounded by deciduous trees, gutter cleaning and leaf protection top the list of concerns as the leaves begin to turn. Fall is also the time to seal chimneys, windows, and doors. Even small openings can allow air, water, or pests indoors. Finally, much like big landscaping projects, you can likely get home projects like painting, siding, and exterior lighting done more quickly and more cost-effectively than during warmer months.
Last but not least is the decor. Protect summer items, like wicker patio furniture, umbrellas, and cushions, by bringing them indoors or into your freshly-cleaned garage. Change out faded accessories and add an outdoor rug to keep toes warm on concrete or brick. Add pops of fall color with mums or inexpensive, easy, and edible accessories like pumpkins, squash, and apples. If you plan on entertaining in the fall, you might even want to invest in a fire pit so you can continue utilizing your outdoor space and keep guests comfortable.
After a summer full of yard work, travel, and outdoor adventures, many of us are looking forward to cuddling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of hot apple cider. This autumn to-do list may seem long and a little overwhelming, but remember, investing the time and energy to take care of your home now will save you time and money in the future.