The ultimate guide to your fall yard and home maintenance is here! Getting your property ready for winter may seem daunting at first, but you can break down the tasks into manageable chunks of time and effort. You will not have to accomplish them all in one weekend. Many homeowners prefer to start prep work outside and then move to the home’s interior projects as temperatures dip.
The beginning of autumn in our part of the country spells the time for seasonal transition, moving our entertainment and lifestyle more indoors. Now is the time to store outdoor furniture and other gear for the winter, move plants indoors, prepare, maintain, and repair in anticipation of cooler temperatures.
It is also the time to book service appointments for your fireplace or furnace and make sure all are in good working order. In addition to professional servicing, we have some easy maintenance tips you can do yourself to make sure you are getting your garden, yard, and home ready for winter.
If you have a garden, there may still be much to harvest. Pick the last of the berries, tomatoes, corn, carrots, beets, and pumpkins. You can create great canning or preserving projects for the fall and winter months, bringing a delicious, just-picked taste to your winter table.
Some states, like us here in Maryland, start experiencing their first frost dates in early October. Before the weather gets too cold, schedule time your fall yard and home maintenance in order to clean and repair gutters, along with any needed roof repairs, chimney, or siding maintenance or fixes. We will walk you through some of the most important tasks to spend time on during the next month or two.
If the fall season brings lots of fallen leaves, use them to your advantage. Depending on how many leaves are blanketing your yard, rake them up and add them to your compost pile. You can even work leaves into garden soil which will add critical nutrients for future benefit. If you have a lawnmower, you can mow over the leaves of your lawn with the mulching attachment engaged, mincing the leaves so they can be left on the lawn as organic fertilizer. Make sure, however, that you do not leave wet, soggy piles of whole leaves on the lawn —this can suffocate growth and contribute to an unhealthy lawn. Regularly removing the leaves as they fall can be the best way to stay on top of this sometimes-time-consuming annual task.
Trim Branches, Plants, and Shrubs
Take the time to prune back shrubs and plants according to recommendations for each species. Look at the trees on your property. Do branches or shrubs hang over or touch the roof, gutter, soffits, or sides of your house? You will want to trim those back so that winds won’t cause the branches to rub against roof shingles or siding. This action will also keep critters like squirrels, rats, and raccoons from using your roof as a playground and potentially finding or making holes into your attic.
Depending on your climate and your grass type, you may need to continue watering your lawn through the fall season. Cool-season grasses, which tend to grow in regions of cooler or wetter fall weather, may require you to keep sprinklers running longer. Warm-season grasses go dormant in the winter, so they may not need additional irrigation throughout the fall and winter months. If you are finished watering your lawn until the spring, be sure to winterize your irrigation system if you have one on your property. Make sure your hoses have been drained of water, rolled up and put in storage. Outdoor faucets (hose bibs) should be shut off in preparation for freezes so you do not have burst pipes and other issues.
Aerate and Overseed Lawn
In our area, lawns can be aerated and overseeded in the fall. A core aerator removes small “plugs” of grass and soil and helps lawns receive more oxygen, sunlight, seed, and fertilization. After aerating a lawn, it is a great time to overseed the area and add fertilizer.
Fertilize and Feed Your Lawn
Fall is a great season to feed your lawn. The exact fertilization requirements should be determined by conducting a soil test to see what nutrients the soil is lacking. Making sure your lawn has what it needs to stay healthy and weed-free is important, especially if you desire a nice green lawn next spring and summer.
Mow and Edge
Your yard is still growing in the fall months but probably will not require as much mowing or edging compared to the summer months. Your lawn may just need mowing once every couple of weeks during the fall and then eventually not at all. So, you can then look forward to winterizing your lawnmower and edger and then taking a break from mowing until spring.
Weed and Pest Control
Your lawn typically may not need traditional weed or pest control in the fall months. However, cool-season grasses are sometimes susceptible to moss, so fall may be a good time of year to apply moss killer. This can also be done in the spring. Check with your Department of Agriculture or local landscape expert to see what kind of grass you may have.
Prepare your Flower Beds and Garden
Along with lawn care, you will want to prepare your flower beds and garden for winter. This will include cleaning out rotted, dead, and dying plants. You will also want to remove invasive weeds, helping ensure they will not return in the spring. Preparing your soil for spring, adding nutrients, and planting cover crops in your garden (if you choose) should also be on your to-do list. Prune perennials (plants that will survive winter) and divide and plant bulbs for the following spring.
Don’t forget to mulch. Mulching helps retain moisture around plants, but it also protects your soil from erosion and keeps down weed growth. During fall and winter, mulch helps insulate the ground and roots from fast freezes and thawing. As a bonus, in the spring, mulch breaks down into organic material for natural fertilizer benefits.
Bring in potted plants that have enjoyed your back deck, porch, or yard. Make sure they are bug-free. Then, enjoy cheerful greenery during those gray, chilly winter days. Indoor plants not only help clean your indoor air, but they can also lift your mood while adding a peaceful, natural ambiance to your interior decor.
Repairs to Exterior of your Home
Take advantage of cooler, comfortable weather to maintain and repair the exterior of your home. Examine and repair wood or vinyl siding, and look for cracks in concrete, brick, and other exterior materials. Seal up holes in soffits and fascia. You may also need to do an exterior home cleaning with a pressure washer.
Examine and clean your roof and gutters. Inspect your roof to make sure it can withstand the weight of snow and ice. Replace any missing shingles, and make sure the flashing on your roof is in good shape. If flashing needs repairs, arrange that or, if you have skills in that area, tackle it yourself.
Take stock of your outdoor lighting and change bulbs if needed. It will be much easier to change bulbs now than when there’s ice or snow on the ground.
Make sure steps and porch handrails are in good working condition and sturdy since you may rely on them more during icy, snowy weather. Make repairs to walkways that may become hazardous with winter weather.
Make a List
Having a running list of fall yard and home maintenance tasks may help you keep on top of everything you need to accomplish during the weekends or when you have time available. For instance, your list may look like this:
- Lay mulch for winter frost prep
- Trim back flowering plants like lavender
- Prune trees and shrubs near your house
- Winterize lawn equipment
- Project idea: Can or preserve garden edibles
- Repair exterior siding as necessary
- Check for air leaks in the attic and basement
- Clear roof and gutters from leaves
- Schedule maintenance or repairs from professionals
Home ownership requires regular maintenance. Hopefully these reminders, or hints for first time homeowners, can help your home stay safe and well maintained. A little work this fall repairing and maintaining your home will result in an abundance of peace of mind later. With preventive fall yard and home maintenance, you will have cut down on the chances of frantically searching for someone to fix your fallen gutters in freezing weather. Instead, you will enjoy your warm home and look forward to each season’s delights and challenges.
Make sure to check out part 2 of our Ultimate Guide to Fall Yard and Home Maintenance!
Adapted from an article originally posted on Porch.com