With the warm temperatures outside this week and in the future forecast it is hard to believe that fall is upon us here in central PA. But Fall is here and cooler temps are right around the corner. Now is a great time to get a jumpstart on preparing the outside of your home, your lawn and your landscaping for the winter months ahead of us. We have put together a list of the top 10 items to complete outside of your home this Fall.
#1 – Trim Perennials
Perennials should be trimmed back after frost hits them. However, do not trim back lilacs, hydrangeas, azaleas, or rhododendrons in fall, because they’ve already set some buds for the upcoming spring and fall trimming could limit their blooming potential.
#2 – Plant Spring Bulbs
Spring blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth need to be planted in the fall. You can plant them anytime in September up until the ground freezes or early November.
#3 – Deck and Patio Maintenance
Hopefully your outdoor decks and patios have enjoyed a great summer season filled with lots of great gatherings. But now it is time to give your deck a bit of pampering. Fall is a great time to seal or stain wood decks. Pressure-treated decks should be sealed or stained every two to three years to ensure that your deck lasts through the wet winter weather. Also make sure decks are free of debris before winter sets in. Debris can hold moisture against your deck boards and not allow it to dry or can create icy patches on concrete patios.
Also make sure to check concrete patios and walkways for any cracks. If any cracks are spotted they can be filled in with a flexible outdoor caulk to eliminate water infiltration.
This is also a great time to check supports, stairs, and hand rails. You want to make sure that all handrails are secure and can support the weight of someone slipping on ice.
#4 – Take Care of Your Lawn
Fall is the best time to reseed your lawn. Before reseeding, aerate your lawn which creates open pores in the soil surface to allow nutrients and water to penetrate and get to the roots of the lawns. Reseeding should be completed between the beginning of September through mid-October.
It is also good to fertilize your lawn in the fall. Most of the grasses that are used in North America were brought to the region from Europe and require fertilization to provide the nutrients they would have received naturally in their original climates. Fertilize in early fall to replace the nutrients that were lost over the warm summer months. This also helps to stimulate the growth of new root systems during the dormant winter months, which helps the grass to grow more thickly in the spring.
#5 – Weed Control
Fall is a great time to treat your lawn for weeds. Getting control of weeds in your lawn during fall will help to rid of root systems that are in place for when the weather turns warm again in spring.
You also want to get rid of weeds from your flowerbeds. Getting control of weeds now will make sure that root systems are removed and can help with spring cleanup in your flowerbeds.
#6 – Stow your Mower
Clean up and stow away your mower for the winter season. After this heavy grass cutting summer season your mower is ready for a break, but before stashing it away make sure to add fuel stabilizer to your gas. Fuel stabilizer helps gas from deteriorating which can damage internal engine parts. And it is always to clean all the accumulated grass clippings from under the mower deck.
#7 – Put Away Garden Hoses
Now that watering season is over, it is time to remove garden hoses from any of your outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause headaches to come freezing temperatures. Water can back up in the pipes close to the exterior wall and freeze and crack.
#8 – Check for Air Leaks
Check for air leaks. Walk around the exterior of your home and seal cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your home. You can use color matched exterior caulk for this task.
While checking for spots that the air can escape it is a good time to check the weather-strip on your garage door. Make sure there is a tight seal between your garage door and the ground, if not it might be time to have it replaced.
#9 – Clean out Gutters
Clean out your gutters. Once all the leaves have fallen from around your home it is a good time to clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams over the winter which can cause costly damage. It is also a good time to make sure all of the joints are secure and tighten brackets.
#10 – Take Care of Fallen Leaves
What should you do with fallen leaves? Too thick of a covering of leaves on your lawn can kill the grass, so if you have a thick layer make sure to take some leaves away. A small amount of leaves can be mulched or shredded with a mower and act as fertilizer for the grass. Another great option for your fallen leaves is to cover bare gardens with them. The leaves act as a barrier helping to keep the moisture in the soil and if shredded can be a fertilizer to the soil for next year’s plantings.