10 Ways We Prepare Our Home and Yard for Fall

posted by Andrea | 10/4/2019

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! 

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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

Although we do our best to stay on top of the dirt, debris, and clutter in our garage, outbuilding, and sheds, they still need a little extra TLC every Spring and every Fall. 

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!)

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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! 

You can read more about our pool in this post

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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?

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18 comments

  1. Lynn

    10/07/2019

    Loved this post! Being a native Michigan person (who now lives in Missouri) I LOVE FALL! This weekend I got the garage purged and cleaned out. Next is pulling in the hose and cleaning out my raised garden beds and putting them to sleep. Also, enjoying our local Fall Festivals!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad to give you a little tiny taste of the beloved West Michigan Fall beauty!

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  2. Michelle

    10/06/2019

    I’m just wondering if you keep your pool up all winter or if you’ve already taken it down and put it in storage? Curious since it’s not on this list.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good question — I should have added that to the post! We do take our pool down, however, we do that Labor Day weekend, so I guess I didn’t consider that as a project we do in the Fall. I’ll try to get that added to the post today! Thanks!

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  3. Janet Vay

    10/04/2019

    Instead of raking, we have found that a leaf blower works wonders and is significantly quicker. You still need the rake to get them onto your tarp, it’s worth dragging the electric cord around the yard. ( we also own a battery powered leaf blower but it can’t handle the leaves)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we’ve tried this method too — but the leaves have to be pretty dry (and only a thinner layer) to make this work.

    [Reply]

  4. Vickie

    10/04/2019

    I have wanted to ask this for a while. I live in NC in area that has been affected by two major hurricanes in 3 years. So we have dealt with power outages for couple of days each time. Which means we lost things in freezer. Living in Michigan how do you prepare for power outages with your freezer and back up heat source? Or do you have many outages for snow storms the way we can have power outages in the south due to “summer / hurricane storms?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you know, we don’t really have to worry about power outages too much. We do not have a generator but we know a few people who do — and we’ve thought about getting one at some point.

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  5. Nancy

    10/04/2019

    We’re lucky our village picks up yard waste, free, twice a month for most months of the year. Thanks for the reminder about garden hoses. It seems like every year on some cold dark night we remember that there is still a hose connected to the faucet on the back of our house and we have to go out in the dark to disconnect it, in case it feeezes overnight. I’m putting it on my list now so we can avoid that this year!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s a nice perk of your city!

    [Reply]

  6. Carol

    10/04/2019

    This is such a timely post as I planned to do some cleanup in my back yard today. . . and after looking at our extended forecast here in Denver I just saw we have our first freeze and possible snow next Thursday! So my hoses are on my list for today. . . I have never thought to connect my hose ends together for storage. Great idea!

    Do you use Preen in your planting beds? I have only used it in some mulched area around bushes, etc where I don’t plant anything else.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh my — I can’t think about snow yet!
    And yes, I put Preen wherever we have mulch (in all our planting beds and around all our flowers/plants)

    [Reply]

  7. stacie kaltz

    10/04/2019

    I totally understand all of the fall tasks. We have 3 acres and about 100 trees – no lie! We have a wood burner to heat most of our house we just got all the wood stacked and put out of weather. Now we can are start all of our cleaning up; garden, yard, pool, etc. I have never used preen at end of season, I am going to try that! It does feel SO good when it’s all done!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow!! SO many trees (and leaves!)

    [Reply]

  8. Trudy

    10/04/2019

    I usually do a Spring cleanup, but am trying to do more in the Fall…..here is my question about cleaning the garden….do you just chop down the plants or do you pull them out? I have a total perennial garden and I don’t know if I should pull them or just chop low to the ground? I know I have to mulch this coming Spring and want it clean as possible. In my head, I’m supposed to leave something for the roots to feed on, but I could be wrong.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Trudy, do NOT pull out perennials (only annuals). With perennials, you just want to cut them back. You must leave the roots or they will not grow back next spring!

    Just Google whatever type of perennials you have and you’ll find exactly how to care for them!

    [Reply]

  9. Trina

    10/04/2019

    Great post, as always, Andrea! We do many of the same things. I was wondering how you keep track of the various chores you need to do monthly, seasonally, etc. Do you use a spreadsheet or an app? Do you just have it written down in a notebook? Might make good post if you haven’t done one on this previously.

    I’m currently searching for a good app to track my habits. I know cornerstone habits are vital to automatizing activities, (that point where it becomes easier to do the new habit rather than not). I found one, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. It doesn’t really account for habits that you need to do more than once a day. So if you, or your followers, have any suggestions on that I’d appreciate it.

    Long time reader,
    Trina

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Trina!
    I’ve done a post about this in the past but I do not have any written list or App that I use — just sort of by memory!

    [Reply]