Preparing your home for autumn
With the arrival of the first frost of the season, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for the colder months. Beyond putting your patio furniture away—which might have already been done a few weeks ago thanks to Hurricane Fiona—here are a few things you can do to prepare your home for the fall.
Preparing your yard:
CLEAN OUT GARDEN BEDS
Once the weather starts to cool off, it's time to clean up garden beds to get them ready for the winter. Remove annual plants and cut back perennials to prepare your gardens for the winter.
PRUNE TREES AND SHRUBS
Remove dead or diseased branches on trees and shrubs. Pruning is to help maintain the appearance of the trees and shrubs as well as remove disease before it can spread to the rest of the tree.
Note: Avoid pruning live branches at this time. To check if a branch is dead, scrape off some of its bark on a smaller stem to see if it's green inside. If it's not green and bendy, it's not alive.
RAKE YOUR LEAVES
To keep your yard looking nice through the fall, rake up leaves and dispose of them as you see fit. You can choose to compost them into leaf mould, use them to protect flower beds over the winter, or you can put them out to the curb.
LOWER YOUR MOWER
Lower the mower to approximately 1.5-2.0" and give your lawn a final cut. In regions like ours, where the season is wet and the snow accumulates, your lawn is susceptible to damage if the snow can bend your grass blades over or there are piles of leaves left on your lawn.
To reduce fungal growth on your lawn (called snow mould), make sure to cut your grass short for the winter.
USE FALL FERTILIZER
Apply a Fall fertilizer to your lawn in mid-October. This will stimulate root growth through November and even into early December. Helping roots grow before winter sets in ensures that the lawn will green up quicker in the spring and become more resistant to disease and drought.
PLANT SPRING BULBS
After the first frost, it’s safe to start planting your fall bulbs. Make sure to plant in groups of 5-7 for the most beautiful displays. Spring tip: You can plant in areas normally shaded by trees for some extra colour, as the leaves will not have grown by the time they spring up.
Preparing your home:
CLEAN OUT YOUR GUTTERS
As the leaves fall, they can clutter up your gutters and break down over the winter into an immovable sludge that causes drainage issues in the spring. Make sure to keep them cleared out between storms.
CHECK YOUR HEATING SYSTEMS
Depending on what kind of heating you have, this might look like dusting radiators, booking a heat pump cleaning, having your furnace filter changed or having your chimney and fireplace inspected. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s all in working order well before the first cold snap.
CHECK FOR LEAKS OR DRAFTS
While a visual inspection will often do—checking for cracks, peeling paint, deteriorating seals— around windows and doors, if you have a windy chilly day, it makes for the perfect time to check for any drafts from windows, doors and even electrical sockets. Check your basement after heavy rain for any signs of water, like peeling paint or the wall bowing outwards. And make sure to pop your head into the attic and any crawl spaces to check for signs of damage.
Real Estate Advisor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I help people buy and sell homes with Engel & Völkers.