If you thought a rake was all you’d need for cleaning up your yard this fall, think again. While raking leaves is an obvious task, there is much more to be done outside your home to prepare for the cooler weather ahead. A little work now will save lots of time when spring finally arrives. Here is a checklist from the Home Depot Garden Club to get your yard ready for winter

Step 1: Clean your gutters. Now is a good time to clear leaves and debris from your gutters. Ensure proper drainage of your roof to avoid costly leaks before the cooler wet weather hits. Use a small garden trowel to scoop out the gunk. If the dirt is solidified, soak it first to loosen it, then use a garden hose to rinse it out through the downspouts. If there’s a clog, use a plumber’s auger to free it.

Step 2: Prune trees and hedges. Trim overgrown areas and remove dead limbs before they weaken and fall under winter snows in the North and heavy rains in the South. Thinning your trees now may save you a roof-repair bill in the future. For higher or heavier tree cleanup, use a chainsaw.

Step 3: Protect your deck. With summer traffic in your backyard slowing, now is a great time to use a pressure washer to clean the mold, mildew and grime from your deck before sealing it. Once your deck is clean and dry, protect it from costly moisture damage during the cooler wet months ahead with a weatherproofing wood stain.

Step 4: Do a little lawn maintenance. Fall lawn care will yield maximum results in the spring. Apply herbicides to control weed infestations. Aerate compacted soil or use a rake to remove thatch. Use fall lawn fertilizer to improve soil conditions for when spring growth begins.

Mow grass blades no more than 1/3 of its length at once. To clear dried grass clippings, leaves or dirt from your driveway, patio or deck, use a blower. Leaf blowers make lawn work quick and easy. For small lawns use a handheld model. For large, opt for a more comfortable backpack blower.

Step 5: Give your garden bed a clean sweep. As the growing season slows, give your flower garden a clean sweep and prepare it for spring. Spent plants, debris and weeds can be a welcoming and warm environment for fungi and bacteria to grow and a great place for insects to lay eggs. Clearing it now will save you costly springtime repairs. Once your garden is clean, feed your soil by adding fertilizer, compost and organic topsoil; use a tiller to mix it together. When you’re finished, cover the garden with pine-bark mulch to prepare it for next spring.

Source: The Home Depot Garden Club. Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://www.homedepotgardenclub.com/us/en/outdoor-living/projects/fall-yard-cleanup-checklist.

Dawn Fraser

Dawn Fraser

CENTURY 21 Masters
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