Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Autumn brings slower times and hot chocolate. But before then, your house must be in order! Here's a complete guide to Autumn-proof your property.
When Autumn looms, a homeowner must focus on two areas (outdoors and indoors). Outdoors chores involve preparing the garden, weatherproofing structures, and fixing outside home issues. Indoor preparations include final DIY tasks, eliminating drafts and tweaking the heating system to perfection.
Don’t know where to begin? This guide looks at essential preparations in and around the home so that you can add them to your own checklist!
Your residence has its own personality. Think about its unique creaks, problems and maintenance needs. In that sense, you already know what needs attention before Autumn arrives and sheds colourful leaves on your lawn.
To be fully prepared for this beautiful season, one must cover all your bases. Autumn chores fall into two categories - the garden and indoors. This guide highlights the most important tasks in each category to allow you to expand on your own checklist.
By the end of this guide, you will understand what needs to be done before Autumn arrives and why. Once you are done with the preparations, you can look forward to a clean garden, shipshape equipment, and a cosy home.
As you can imagine, the garden has the most Autumn preparations. But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Simply start with the plants as they account for a large proportion of your upcoming chores.
The best place, to begin with, is the lawn. The goal here is neatness. So take a trash bag or bin and collect all the debris. Things like leaves, twigs, and stones should all be removed to make the next step easier. Once the grass is free of your kid’s Legos, pull the lawnmower into action for one last time.
You can also give your now-neat lawn a good fertilizer. Make sure that the fertilizer is formulated for Autumn. This type of feeding provides your grass with the stamina to survive a cold winter and grow again in spring.
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The checklist for hedges and trees are essentially the same. Their main Autumn preparations involve the removal of dead branches and keeping them well-trimmed. Keep an eye out for branches that are too close to power lines or the roof of your home and get rid of those. Now is also the time to remove a tree or hedge entirely if it’s heavily diseased or dead.
To avoid the build-up of bacteria, you need to clear your pool of all organic stuff. Grab the pool net and go fishing for leaves, bits of grass, and rafts of frothy floaters. Once the pool is sparkling clean, test the water to ensure that the pH is between 7.2 and 7.6. Finally, check that the filtration system is in good working order. If so, shut it off and place a cover on the pool until spring.
Ponds need to be cleared of debris and aquatic plants can do with a trim to remove dead branches or leaves. Next, assess your equipment. Clean the dirty items and fix the ones that need repairs. Based on your pond’s setup, you might also have to remove or raise some of the equipment and change your wet pets’ diet to suit Autumn. Very often, fish will eat less during the colder months and excess food will quickly spoil the water.
Bulbs produce some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. Should you want to add the first bulb bed to your garden, this is the time to do it. If all goes well, your tulips and daffodils will emerge in spring!
Most people prefer to let their veggie plot rest during the colder months but you don’t necessarily have to. There are plenty of delicious Autumn and Winter crops including onions, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and leeks.
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Either way, your vegetable garden needs an Autumn facelift. Start by clearing your patch of all previous crops, weeds and old mulch. Use a pitchfork or other tools to loosen hard and compacted soil. Once you are done with that, the plot needs replenishment. The best way to revitalise a vegetable garden after summer is to work in good compost and fertilizer.
Don’t forget to eyeball your irrigation system. It needs to be in good working order for your Autumn and Winter veggies. Even if you decide to rest your soil and plant nothing, it’s still prudent to make sure that the irrigation system is faultless before you remove and store it.
During Summer, garden hoses are damaged by exposure to heat and sunlight. During Autumn and Winter, the main danger is water freezing inside the hose. By putting it away in a weatherproof place, you can extend the life of your hose by many years.
Frozen water can also damage metal pipes from the inside. If your home has a shut-off valve, you can use it to stop the water flow to outdoors faucets. After closing the shut-off valve, open several taps outside to remove all the water in the pipes.
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Is your water drainage system healthy? Do the gutters channel water from the roof to a designated area without any problems? Is your outdoor drain free of leaves and debris? If you answered yes, then go pour yourself a cup of tea. But if the gutters or drains are blocked, rather grab some tools and remove the blockage!
When you notice any damage to faucets, pipes or the drain cover, early repairs will save you the grief of dealing with the problem later and by that time, the issue is usually worse. Another reason not to wait is the fact that outdoors pipes are also harder to fix in the dead of winter. You can always save time by hiring a plumber to inspect and remedy any issues.
During the colder months, you’re less likely to use gardening equipment. Indeed, certain items are not used again until spring. Leaving a trimmer or lawnmower outside will expose them to moisture and temperature changes that can ultimately destroy expensive equipment. The first step to prepare your equipment for Autumn is to clean out a storage space, either in the garage or the garden shed.
Some pruners, cutters, and snow-removal equipment are used during Winter. Whichever tools you use during the colder seasons, make sure that they get serviced now. This way, when you need them, they’ll be ready.
Another way to prepare for later months is to stock up on some extra fuel. Also, don’t forget to check the status of your generator, solar panels and other power sources.
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When you clean the garage or shed, keep your eyes peeled for damage. Even better, consider what preventative measures you can take to protect your property against cold, moisture, and pests. You can check for things like mould, cracks, drafts, leaks and old paint.
A new coat of weatherproof paint is always a good idea, especially for a wooden shed. Fixing other issues require more DIY commitment but a professional can quickly correct a leaking roof or window, patch a draft or tell you what’s causing those cracks.
Furniture that can be moved should be stored in the shed until spring. If your garden furniture is too heavy or fixed to the patio, for example, you can protect them with weatherproof covers. Either way, if your furniture is made from wood, you can also apply weatherproof paint. Not only will this add years to the tables and chairs but they will look amazing.
Also, check your fence for damage, missing parts or deteriorating paint. Once again, weatherproof applications can protect a wooden fence for years. A barrier with gremlins like mould, rust or fragile areas also needs to be treated with the correct protective paints or replacements.
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When people scribble their chore lists, the driveway is often forgotten. But a yearly routine can prevent your car from wobbling over unsafe terrain that is lined with cracks and cement pieces. Due to the milder weather, this time of year is also perfect to seal a driveway’s cracks and holes. It will look more inviting after you clean the tarmac and trim plants away from the edges.
Now that you have conquered your foliage, furniture and fence, one last thing remains to be done outside. The outside of your house needs a good once-over. This gives you the chance to catch a problem early. If you correct an issue now, it could halt progressive damage and save you from dealing with more repairs down the line.
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An essential Autumn preparation is to curb drafts inside the home. They suck heat out of the house and replace it with cold air. This, in turn, leads to higher utility bills because you need extra heating to stay warm.
The root of the problem is insufficient insulation. Many draft hunters suggest that you use a candle. The method is efficient in identifying which doors and windows are drafty. Other places to check include vents, hatches, wall-mounted AC appliances, and baseboards. You simply light a candle and then hold it as still as you can near a window or door. A draft will push or push at the flame.
Pro Tip: A windy or cold day might give you better results!
Once you have identified the guilty door or window, you can seal it with caulk. However, caulk is only effective for small cracks and openings. Larger cracks can be filled with spray foam products while draft stoppers are commonly used to seal doors. A more drastic solution involves hiring a professional to install or replace the roof’s insulation.
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Your heating system might be as simple as a freestanding heater to an all-out thermostat-controlled system. Whatever makes your home more toasty, every piece of heating equipment should be in working order. The same goes for your hot water system.
Do you love lobbing logs into the fireplace? Then don’t forget to thoroughly clean the fireplace and chimney! The days before Autumn is the right time to clear out obstructions and rinse the grime that might cause smoke to double back into the room.
During the coldest months, the burden on a home’s electrical systems increases. With it, comes a higher risk of power-related problems. Since electrical mishaps pose a fire risk, this is not something that should be skipped during your Autumn preparations. Make sure that your home’s wiring is in order and that all safety devices, including fire detectors and alarm systems, are shipshape.
Since the weather can get really cold, it’s important to insulate your plumbing. This stops ice from forming inside the pipes and causing damage. The boiler also needs to be serviced. If you have any plumbing problems in the bathroom or kitchen, this is also the best time to iron out those wrinkles.
At the end of the day, your goal is a plumbing system that is protected against the cold - and a system that works efficiently (for example, it has great water drainage and heating).
The days before Autumn is also a good time to tackle your DIY To-Do list. Have you been thinking about any renovations lately? Or, maybe you want to fix a door or wall inside the house? If the answer is yes, then see if you can manage a project or two before the weather gets too cold.
Wrapping things up, look around to see what else needs tidying or last-minute changes. For example, bring your cold-sensitive potplants indoors and add high-energy snacks to your bird feeder so that your wild pets can weather the chilly season!
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