Fall Cleanup Tips for Your Home

As the autumn approaches, the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to fall. Before you don your cozy sweater and curl up with a cup of hot apple cider, you should probably turn your attention to cleaning the exterior of your home before winter hits.

Fall Cleanup Tips for the Outside of Your Home

Yard

Of course, when you think “autumn”, you think of leaves! If your yard has many mature trees, you’re probably already dreading the thought of spending hours of your precious weekend raking the fallen leaves into tidy piles.  However, raking is just the beginning of preparing your yard for winter.  Be sure to prune your shrubs, removing any dead or diseased branches as well as any parts of the shrub that are simply overgrown. Take a look at your trees and determine if they, too, could use a trim.

As you reach the end of the mowing season, set your mower to the lowest setting, grinding up the few scattered leaves that remain on the grass, which will give your soil much-needed nitrogen. Setting your mower to the low setting for your last mowing will also decrease the chance of “snow mold” occurring next spring. And if you’re concerned about bald spots in your grass, now’s the time to re-seed and fertilize those places.

Flowerbed

Your flowerbeds require some attention, too; fall is the time to plant such bulbs as tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths. Be sure to mulch your flowerbeds and shrubs with 2-3 inches of hardwood mulch to protect them from the impending cold. Cut back your perennials to just a few inches, and pull out all of the plant debris in your flowerbed, as it will attract bugs.

If you have any potted plants on your porch or patio, plan to bring them indoors as soon as the nights cool down to 50 degrees. However, before you bring them in, spray them with a garden hose—this will remove any excess dirt or insects.

Lawn Furniture

Many people enjoy their outdoor spaces during the course of the summer, and the furniture definitely shows wear and tear by the end of the season.  Before covering or storing your patio furniture for the season, take time to clean it properly.  Use gentle soap and a soft brush to scrub it down, and then store it in a safe, dry space to preserve it for use in the spring.  Don’t forget your table umbrella, or the children’s summer toys that might need to be put away for the season, too.  Your grill also needs special attention. Clean it thoroughly, scrubbing down the grate with a brush, and be sure to disconnect the propane if you’ve got a gas grill. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning gas grills.

Roof and Siding

Your house is one of your greatest assets, so it pays to take good care of it! Before the snow falls, you should take the time to thoroughly clean your roof and siding, ensuring that you’ve removed any dirt, algae, mold, or mildew before it becomes a potentially expensive issue.

You can find a gentle cleaner at your local hardware or home supply store that you can attach to your hose. Once it’s attached, just spray the resulting solution on the siding. If you find that your dirt is of the stubborn variety, a pressure washer will do the trick—you can rent one if needed. Be sure that you set it on “low” to prevent damaging the siding. Your pressure washer can also clean your roof, but you might want to hire a professional who knows how to clean your roof without causing damage and who has the proper safety equipment.

Gutters

As the leaves fall, they don’t just land on your lawn; unfortunately, many of them make their way to your gutters, along with a host of other debris. It’s time to pull out your ladder and your heavy gloves and remove the gunk from your gutters. You can put this in a sturdy garbage bag or over-sized trash can, and discard it or even compost it. To tackle your downspouts, use your garden hose; squirt the hose up from the bottom of the downspout, and if needed, you can also run it from the top.

Screens and Windows

Take advantage of the temperate weather to clean your neglected windows and screens. To do this, simply remove the screens and lay them flat, on the driveway, deck, or a table.  Using a soft-bristled nylon brush, scrub the screens with soap and water to remove cobwebs and dirt, and then rinse them with the hose. Before you replace the screens, clean the exterior of your windows, wiping horizontally on one side and vertically on the other; that way, you can easily tell which side has the streaks. Using a professional squeegee with high-quality rubber makes the job quick and easy with fewer streaks.

Garage

When it gets cold, you’ll definitely want to move your car into your garage! The less window scraping you have to do this winter, the better. Now’s the time to clean and organize your garage. Put the summer equipment and toys on hanging racks or shelves, as you won’t need to access them for the next few months. Consider purging the items you haven’t used for a year or more, either donating them to a charitable organization or perhaps selling them. Finish up by sweeping the floor or blowing out debris with a portable blower.

Once you’ve completed your outdoor chores, relax—it’s time to enjoy the fun of the season!