Now that October is officially here and we’ve (mostly) adapted to the school day schedule, Dave and I have started the process of cleaning up the outside of our home and yard in preparation for colder weather ahead.
I often feel overwhelmed with everything we “need” to do… but then I remind myself to take a deep breath and “chilax” (as Dave says) because I know we will get it all done eventually!
Here are some of the things we always try to do before cold weather and snow hit (usually by the end of November).
1. Rake, Mulch, and Remove Leaves:
This is at the top of our list because it takes the most time.
We have SO many leaves to clear every fall, and of course, they aren’t all ready to rake at one time, so it’s a long, slow, ongoing process from early October through late November (once we even raked leaves during a warm spell in February!)
We have mulching blades on our mower so Dave tries to mulch as many of our leaves as he can (he double-cuts the grass to chop them up really small). However, there are times when the leaves fall too quickly and are then too thick to mulch — so we rake!
We have a pretty good system where I rake leaves into piles and Dave picks up the piles with a tarp and brings them to our vegetable garden area where we eventually rototill them into the dirt.
2. Clean out Gutters:
We have gutter helmets on most of our gutters, so this is actually a fairly quick and painless process — but something that must be done before snow flies. Otherwise the dirt and debris freezes and is impossible to remove.
The only place we need to clean out the gutters is on one side of the garage and one side of the deck. It only requires a small step ladder, some heavy-duty gloves, and a 5-gallon bucket!
3. Blow out Irrigation Pipes
We have this professionally done.
It costs around $65 and takes less than 20 minutes — we just have to remember to schedule it!
4. Drain hoses and sprinklers
I just did this last weekend — and although I was dreading it, I timed myself and realized it only took about 30 minutes to drain all of our hoses.
I drag them all to the driveway, fully extend them, drain any remaining water (our driveway is on a slight slope), roll them back up, and connect the male and female ends of the hose together so no bugs or critters can get inside over the winter.
We learned the hard way that we really need to do this when the weather is still warm and sunny so the hoses are nice and flexible. One year we forgot and it was basically impossible to get the water out because we couldn’t get the freezing cold hoses to lay flat.
I also make sure to drain all our sprinklers, watering cans, and spray nozzles.
Once things are “winterized” we store them in our outhouse garden shed.
5. Sweep / Clean Exterior Areas
This is another one of those to-dos that’s “ongoing” as I do it almost every week.
Often, when I’m outside with the kids, I carry a broom around with me and sweep off the deck, the front porch, the back porch, the garage floor, the various walkways, etc. etc.
I also use my broom to sweep away spider webs and other junk that accumulates around window and door frames.
6. Pull out all Annual Flowers, Herbs, and Vegetables
I usually try to wait as long as possible to pull out our annuals, so I probably won’t do this for another couple of weeks — but the vegetable garden is totally cleaned out — and it feels good to have it “decluttered”.
7. Deadhead and Trim Perennials and Shrubs
There are some plants that I trim and deadhead throughout the summer (to keep them blooming longer). We also have some plants that we wait to cut back until the fall so we can enjoy them all winter (tall grasses, hydrangeas, and sedum to name a few). But the vast majority of our plants are cut back in the fall.
Although it takes time, I like doing this process in the fall because with fewer leaves and foliage, it’s significantly easier to remove all the fallen leaves from our planting beds — so we sort of “kill 2 birds with one stone” in the sense that I cut the plants back, then we rake everything up at one time.
We do pay for yard waste removal which runs from April through November — but there’s no way we can fit all our “fall clean up” in our yard waste bin. Thankfully, our city offers free yard waste dropoff a few times each year, so we use this opportunity to load up my parents’ trailer with everything that doesn’t fit in our yard waste bins.
By taking care of as much as we can in the fall, we can spread mulch that much quicker in the spring!
8. Spread Preen In All Planting Beds
I am a HUGE advocate of using Preen in all our planting beds as it does a magnificent job of keeping weeds away all season long.
I usually spread preen right away in the spring (early April), then again whenever we finish mulching the beds. I do another application around 4th of July, and then again again in early October.
I feel that the October Preen helps to prevent those early spring weeds — so after we prune, deadhead, and rake all the leaves out of the planting beds, I spread one final application of Preen for the year.
9. Clean up garage and sheds
We better-organize things, put the summer toys away, break out the snowblower and shovels, and just give it a good once-over clean before it gets too cold to enjoy cleaning outside!
10. Wash Windows.
This is another task I just recently completed — and another task I totally DREAD doing!
Although I know they will inevitably get really dirty again, I love being able to look out of freshly washed windows during the Fall and Winter months. So before the weather gets too chilly, I dedicate a couple of hours to cleaning the insides and outsides of all our windows.
It’s always amazing to me how much more sunlight seems to come into our home when the windows are clean (or maybe I’m just imagining it!)
UPDATE = We Take Down our Pool!
A few of you have asked about our pool… yes, we do take that down as part of our fall preparation. I totally forgot about the pool when writing this post as we actually took the pool down many weeks ago!
It always feels so good to accomplish everything on our Fall Clean-Up list… and once we’re finished, I’m ready to be DONE with yard work for a while!
As a bonus, I broke out the first fall-scented candle of the season — so our whole house SMELLS like fall too!
What’s on your Fall Clean-Up List this year?