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Ready Your Home for Fall to Savor the Season More

Fall is a glorious season. With blazing leave and roaring fires, apple picking, harvest festivals and sweater weather, there is so much to look forward to. And with that studious, back-to-business mood permeating the air, we feel invigorated to take on new projects and work a bit harder. Kick off this busy season by taking the time now to prepare your home, incorporating both important tasks (like cleaning the chimney) and pure pleasures (like treating yourself to a luxury bath product).


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Photo: Handyman Matters

These 14 tasks will help you seamlessly transition your home from summer to fall.

#1 Inspect the roof, gutters and drainpipes

Depending on your climate, you may want to hold off until later in the fall (when most leaves have dropped) before cleaning the gutters, but doing a visual inspection now is a good idea. If any branches and leaves fell during summer storms, remove them so they don’t cause blockages during autumn rains. Inspecting your roof now will leave ample time to have repairs or a replacement made before the winter.

#2 Edit your crafting stash

If you knit, sew or practice any other craft that comes with lots of supplies, it’s time to begin sorting and purging that mountainous stash. Fall and winter will beckon with cold afternoons that are perfect for engaging in making something with your own two hands – be ready!

#3 Move firewood to a covered area

Be sure to check for insects before bringing any wood indoors. Don’t store wood with bugs, especially termites, indoors (or against the outside of your house).

#4 Have chimneys cleaned before you light the first autumn fire

Residue buildup and blockages in chimneys are a common cause of house fires, so be sure to have a pro take a look before sparking that first flame.

#5 Organize the entry

Fall brings with it loads of jackets, mucky boots and bundles of paper. Think ahead and give every type of item a home. That means baskets and bins for accessories, hooks for jackets and bags, and shelves or metal trays for shoes and boots. Add a pin board or a magnet board with a calendar, a place to drop keys and mail, and a bin for recycling, and you should have all your bases covered.

#6 Clear your desk

If you do any work from home (or have a student in the house), now is the ideal time to tackle those piles of paper and start this busy season with a clean and clear workspace. Have drawers, cabinets or shelving within arm’s reach so you can easily put things away and not clutter up that desk again.

#7 Sort the pantry

Set the stage for healthy dinners by creating a neat and orderly pantry with healthful choices front and center. Toss expired foods and consolidate packages that have just a little left. If you like, pick up a flat of canning jars and a packet of labels to create your own organizing system for bulk-bin goods.

#8 Deep clean the tub and treat yourself to something new

We may not be heading to the beach as often these days, but the time is just right for a relaxing soak. Give your tub a thorough cleaning and pick up something that will make your soak extra special, whether that is an essential oil you love, a beautiful brush or a luxuriously soft towel.

#9 Tidy the porch

After a season’s worth of sandy feet tramping back and forth, your porch deserves a good cleaning. Sweep away sand, clean the front window and door, check porch lights and add a few extras like hurricane lanterns or autumnal potted plants.

#10 Stock up on cold and flu remedies

Make a list of everything from your favorite preventative measures to the medicines and other items your family relies on while sick, and pick up these items now. You will fee good knowing you have everything you need if and when someone in the house feels under the weather.

#11 Check lighting throughout your home

As the autumn sun dips lower in the sky, you may find you crave a little extra light in your rooms. A few small table lamps or even a strand of twinkle lights can make all the difference in creating a cozy ambience.

#12 Refresh cleaning supplies

Take a few minutes to pull everything out from beneath the kitchen sink (yes, wads of plastic bags and all), sort it and put back only what you need. If this is where you reach when you need supplies for daily cleaning tasks, move everything not related to these tasks elsewhere.

#13 Swap out bedding

Bring cozy quilts and duvets out of storage so they will be within reach on that first chilly night. Check now if anything needs to be laundered and you’ll have time to wash it before you really need it.

#14 Savor you hard work

Sit back and enjoy a well-deserved rest. Brew a pot of tea, pour yourself a glass of wine, crack open a new novel or do whatever puts the icing on your cake.

Give Your Turf the Fall Tune-up It Deserves

Photo: Turfmutt.comYour lawn probably has taken a beating this summer – family gatherings, fetch with the dog, and kids’ games and toys have likely been working together with heat and drought to make your grass gasp for a breather. If you lawn is in need of a little TLC, you’re in luck – fall is the best time to revitalize it so that next year’s grass is the greenest and healthiest it can be.

Know Your Grass

There are cool season and warm season grasses, and several varieties in each category.

  • Cool Season Grasses: Kentucky bluegrass – fescue – perennial ryegrass; are better suited for cooler climates, are most productive in spring and fall, sometimes take more irrigation and are generally mowed higher than warm season grasses due to their erect growth habit. 
  • Warm Season Grasses: Bermuda – St. Augustine – big bluestem; grow best in warmer climates, are typically more drought tolerant and are often mowed at lower heights.

Be sure to check with your local lawn experts for specific recommendations for turf grass in you area.

Fertilize

In the fall, fertilize your lawn with an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ration of 3-1-2 or 4-1-2. The ratio doesn’t need to be exact, but do try to get a product with similar amounts. Plan to use approximately 1 pound of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn and always follow the package directions. Applying too much fertilizer will not help your grass and, in fact, may damage it.

Dethatch

Thatch is the buildup of dead roots and stems that develop between the soil and the green grass blades. If you have just a little buildup, you can use a hard rake or a dethatching rake to remove the dead grass, but if you have more than ½ inch you will need to core aerate in the fall or the spring.

Core aeration uses rentable equipment to remove plugs of soil, increasing the soil’s ability to receive water, air and fertilizer. If your buildup is thicker than ⅔ inch, you will need to not only core aerate but add ⅛ to ¼ inch of organci matter like compost or peat. Water in well. 

Control weeds

September and October are the best months to control perennial broadleaf weeds like clover and dandelions. These weeds are busy taking in sun and nutrients to get them through the winter months, so that means they are open to receiving weed killers as well. 

If you have just a few weeds, pull them out by hand, but more numerous weeds may require additional tactics or chemicals – either organic or non organic. As with fertilizers, always follow the package directions when applying any chemical to your lawn to avoid damaging it and the surrounding plants. Don’t worry about any bare spots left by weed removal; your healthy grass will take over those areas in no time.

Sow grass seeds

If you have large bare areas left by weed removal or simply need to establish a new or extended part of your lawn, mid-August to mid-September is the best time to sow grass seeds. Always check with your county extension office or trusted local nursery about the best times to sow seeds in your area, however.

Before you sow, be sure you have prepared the soil correctly to get the best results. Till the soil at least 6 inches deeps, add ½ to 1 inch or so of compost or peat, rake the soil smooth and sow the seeds. Water in well and keep the soil consistently moist until after the new growth emerges, or about 6 weeks.