Trying to stretch out the last days of summer is a noble effort, but one of these weeks the weather is going to start turning, the kids will be back in school, and the family calendar is going to begin overflowing with sports, community events, and holidays.
Make a plan to ease into these fall home care projects now, and you won’t be scrambling when Labor Day is in the rear view mirror.
Here are some projects to put on the list:
Prepare Your Lawn for a New Season
Summer heat may have stressed your lawn, and fall lawn care is important so make sure your turf is strong and ready to withstand the coming winter weather. Pay attention now and you’ll be rewarded with a lawn that thrives through the seasons.
- Adjust the watering schedule. Even in cooler weather, grass still needs an inch of water a week. Keep an eye on the sky and if autumn rain doesn’t do the job, make sure you irrigate.
- Keep mowing. Grass will be growing at a slower rate so you don’t have to mow as frequently, but as soon as it reaches the height recommended for its variety, cut it down by one-third. Aside from keeping your yard neat, mowing keeps the lawn healthy and able to fend off weeds and insects.
- Rake and dethatch. Lawns need to breathe, and if you let leaves accumulate they’ll soon restrict water and air flow. Add autumn rain to that, and you’ve got a sodden mess that will suffocate your lawn.
Clean Up Your Patio Furniture
The end of a hard season of use is the time to clean outdoor furniture.
- Plastic and aluminum tables and chairs just need to be wiped with an all-purpose cleaner and then given a quick hose-down.
- Wooden pieces should be wiped with a damp rag to remove surface dirt, and then oiled to preserve finishes.
- Wicker and rattan pieces can be dusted out with a dry paint brush, your vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment, or some blasts from the compressed air canister you use on your computer.
- Clean fabric cushions according to label directions. (If you’ve cut the labels off, check for cleaning advice here.)
- If you’re covering or storing furniture at the end of the season, make sure everything is completely dry before you do it.
Pack Up Your Barbecue Grill
If the end of summer means the end of grilling where you live, give your barbecue a thorough cleaning and degreasing before you close-up shop. If you’ve got a propane grill, make sure the tank’s valve is closed and then detach the tank and store it in a protected but well-ventilated spot outside. A tank can leave rust stains on concrete when it gets wet, so sit it on some bricks or boards.
Clean and Waterproof Your Deck
Give your deck a brisk sweeping, and then clear debris out of the cracks with a putty knife or other tool so that nothing is left behind to rot and mildew and begin eating into the wood. Then clean the wood with a scrub brush or stiff broom and either a product designed for the purpose or with a half-and-half solution of bleach and water. Rinse thoroughly and let the wood dry completely before applying a coat of waterproofing deck sealer.
Clear Gutters and Check Downspouts
Start the new season right by cleaning out debris that’s been accumulating in the rain gutters, because they’ll clog quickly as soon as the leaves begin to fall. If water can’t flow through gutters easily, it can do serious damage to your eaves and roof. For safety’s sake, call a professional to clean out the gutters and inspect connections with downspouts. Making necessary repairs before the rainy season can be a real money-saver.
Do Something About the Garage
Did you know that only about 30 percent of homeowners have enough room in their garages to park their cars? Even if you don’t mind parking on the driveway, letting junk pile up in your garage is a silly waste of space. Pick a weekend and then roll your sleeves up and get to it. Toss or donate what you don’t need, organize the rest, and sweep out every corner before you start putting things back. While you’re at it, run a test on your garage door’s auto-stop safety feature.