50 Must-Do Things to Get Your Home Ready for Fall
We get it. You would rather be enjoying the waning days of summer than doing fall chores, but tackling these now, means you can enjoy the splendor of fall guilt-free.
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Shine the light to avoid slip and falls
Nightime and ice are a dangerous combination. “Ice patches appear anywhere and long nighttime shadows can cloak them on stairs and curbs,” says George Premo, owner of Premo Electric. He suggests upgrading to motion-activated outdoor lights to both illuminate ice patches and protect your home from would-be burglars.
Inspect your home’s foundation
Head down to the basement and take a gander where the bottom of the first floor meets the foundation wall and look for cracks. An uneven foundation can lead to sloping floors, bowing walls, drywall cracks, and more. Cracks that are less than a quarter of an inch can easily be fixed. “Fill cracks with spray foam insulation or regular fiberglass insulation,” Bennett says. “Leave larger cracks to a professional.” You shouldn’t attempt these 12 home improvements either.
Give your lawn some love
Before the harsh temperatures hit, nourish your lawn with one last round of fertilizer. “By providing a balanced fertilizer, which promotes root growth and hardens off the plant to withstand the rigors of harsh winters, your lawn gets the resources it needs to stay healthy,” says Kyle Tobin of LawnSavers Plant Health Care, Inc. “You’ll have a more lush lawns come spring.” You’ll also want to avoid these 14 little mistakes that make your yard look messy.
Don’t cut your grass too short
We know you can’t wait to clean and store your lawnmower for the season, just don’t make that last cut too short. According to Tobin, the last mow of the season should be at the regular height—of two and a half to three inches long—to protect the crown of the turfgrass plant. And save some leaves for the lawn. “It’s OK to mulch a small amount of leaves, as long as the mulched pieces are no larger than the size of a dime. This will reincorporate additional valuable nutrients and organic matter into the soil to help nourish your grass,” says Tobin.
Sharpen your tree pruner
There are four good reasons to sharpen your tree pruner before fall, according to Mark Russell, owner of 770 Arborist Tree Service. These are: fewer bugs are active to feast on the cut site; the cooler weather gives the cut site more time to dry before bugs start nibbling in the spring; the tree directs its resources to heal the cut site, instead of producing news leaves; and the tree doesn’t expend energy to produce new leaves only for those leaves to get chopped off right away (which happens when you prune in the spring).
Prune larger tree branches
Fall often brings on sudden, severe weather of high winds, torrential downpours, and sometimes even heavy snowfall. While it’s still nice out, walk your property and assess your trees and vegetation, suggests Lisa Tadewaldt, owner of Urban Forest Pro. Identify the limbs that might be hazardous due to deterioration, damage, or disease-ridden limbs. “Inclement weather can lead to branches falling on vehicles, a deck, your home, electrical lines, or even a person. It’s far easier to prune problematic limbs on your schedule than be woken up by a crack and crash during a storm,” says Tadewaldt.
Shut down the outdoor party space
When it’s too chilly to sit on the deck in your shorts and flip flops, it’s probably time to start packing up the deck, patio and porch items. Most of the items seem sturdy enough to withstand winter weather, but when spring rolls around, you might find they are damaged, faded, or rusty. Wash metal furniture and let it completely dry before covering with a sturdy tarp. Hose off dirt on plastic and fabric furniture and let them dry before storing inside or in an all-weather deck box.
Prepare your shovel
Do you recall the first snow last year that caught you off guard? Be prepared for the white stuff with the essentials to remove snow and melt ice from slippery sidewalks and driveways. “Buy salt early for sidewalks, and check on the condition of your snow shovel; if it’s not a back-saver model, consider buying a new one,” says Bennett. Or try spraying the shovel with WD-40 so the snow doesn’t stick—this is just one of 46 amazing uses for WD-40.
“Early fall is a good time to check how much insulation you have and add any if needed,” says Bennett. To find out if you need more, you can gauge the depth of insulation by looking in your attic, recommends EnergyStar.gov. You’ve got plenty of insulation if it is level with or below floor joists, but if you can easily see your floor joists, it’s time to add more. If you’d rather measure, generally 10 to 14 inches of insulation is recommended for most attics. To be on the safe side, don’t store these things in your attic.
Look for the bat signal in your attic
You might not see a bat signal or a bat for that matter, but if you have bats, they’ll be signs. Take a flashlight up to the attic and look for bat guano (bat poop), which looks like tiny, elongated black pellets, or you might smell a strong ammonia odor or notice grease marks near the entry points—which by the way, you’ll need to seal up after getting guidance from the pest pros. These are the other clear signs bats are hanging around in your attic.