With kids going back to school and temperatures dropping, fall is a time of change. It’s also a great time to take stock and prepare for what’s to come, especially the needs of your home and garden as winter weather and holidays approach. Follow these tips – inside and out – to refresh your home, make sure it’s safe and warm, and get ready for winter.
Inside Your Home
- Check your pantry items, including spices. Throw out anything that’s out of date and wipe down surfaces. Start a list of which staples may be running low.
- Flip your mattress and sprinkle some baking soda on it to absorb odors and freshen it. You can add a little lavender or other calming essential oil to baking soda before sprinkling it on your mattress for a natural scent and aromatherapy. Leave baking soda on for a few minutes before vacuuming it up.
- Give carpets, furniture and window treatments a deep clean. Take them down and launder if the fabric allows, give furniture a good vacuuming, and shampoo carpets.
- Do a home energy audit. Check your thermostat and consider replacing it if you don’t have one that can be programmed for different times of day. An easy way to reduce heating costs is to reverse the direction of ceiling fans. By rotating them to go clockwise they will push warm air down instead of creating the cool air you need in summer.
- Do a safety check. Check that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and replace batteries. Clean your fireplace if you’ll be using it this winter and remove any ashes from last year’s fires.
Outside Your Home
- Replace window screens with storm windows. Martha Stewart recommends labeling each screen before you store them so you’ll know where they belong in the spring.
- Apply caulk to the exterior of doors and windows. Also be sure to check door frames and under doors, and if needed, apply weatherstripping. According to Kiplinger, you should not be able to see any daylight around doors from inside your house.
- Clean gutters and check your roof for any damage that needs repairs. These tasks need to be done before harsh winter weather hits so you don’t end up with more serious and costly problems later on.
- Prepare your lawn for winter and new growth in spring by fertilizing, aerating, and planting new grass seed now. As you collect fallen leaves, you can use some to make mulch and the rest to start a compost bin for next year.
- Examine trees for any dead branches and trim them as needed. This prevents serious damage later on as winter weather could bring storms that blow loose limbs out of trees, or they could freeze and break off, with the potential to fall on your house.
- Fall is the best time to get rid of any perennial weeds like dandelions because this is when they are most susceptible to weed killer. According to Better Homes and Gardens, you get the most benefit from spraying weeds on days when the temperature is moderate and the ground is moist.
- Add new life to your garden by planting fall annuals for beautiful color. Fall is also a great time to plant shrubs and trees.
- Divide perennials and relocate any that may thrive in another part of the garden. Cut back all but fall-blooming perennials, and dig up annuals that have passed their prime. All of these trimmings can be added to your compost bin.
- Clean and either cover or bring garden furniture inside your garage or storage building for the winter.
- Clean garden tools and store them for the winter. This includes draining all hoses, coiling them up and storing them away from the cold.
As cooler weather arrives, fall is the time to wind down the growing season and start preparing your garden and home for winter. This is the perfect time to spruce up and make sure your home is cozy and safe in the months to come.