Fall is one of the most underappreciated seasons for home care, despite it being quite a busy time. With the thrill of summer over, children going back to school, and the beginning of the holiday season starting, it’s easy to forget about property maintenance.
Winter is around the corner and in some regions fall already means freezing temperatures or even some premature snowfall. It is important to continue to care for and maintain your property in the fall, but there are also a few seasonal care tips to keep in mind while you’re outdoors.
1. Clean, Repair and Reseal Your Deck
Early fall is the perfect time for deck maintenance. Chances are your deck won’t be used as much in the fall and by completing maintenance before winter you’ll enter spring ready to entertain guests. If you have a composite or vinyl deck this will be the time to thoroughly clean it. Wood decks will need a bit more work.
Carefully Wash Wisely your wood deck with a pressure washer and be sure to remove any debris. Keep an eye out for any boards that need to be repaired or fasteners lifting out of the surface. If it’s time to re-stain your deck, you can do this after cleaning. Fall is also a great time to reseal your deck as the added moisture protection is perfect if you’ll be getting snow. Don’t forget that if you have a wood walkway it will need the same level of care.
2. Properly Close Down Your Pool for Winter
If you are lucky enough to have a pool you will need to carefully close it down in the fall and winterize it. Simply covering and leaving your pool until spring is a recipe for disaster. Your region will dictate how you will need to shut down your pool, but typically this process consists of checking and adjusting water levels (pH, hardness, chlorine, etc), deep cleaning the pool, cleaning and storing pool equipment, and draining the pool to the recommended level. If you’re new to pool care it is a good idea to get regional-specific advice from the contractor that installed the pool or a local pool supply store.
Don’t forget to clean and repair your pool decking during this time as well. Use a pressure washer for the best clean and scrub any algae or dirt spots with a stiff-bristle brush. Some people also choose to use a sanitizing product at this time. Be very careful that any cleaning product you use around your pool is pool-safe since chances are high that some of the product may drain into it when rinsed.
3. Drain and Turn Off Outdoor Water Lines
There are few things as stressful and expensive as dealing with burst water lines. As temperatures begin to dip below freezing there is a high risk of water expansion bursting water pipes as well as outdoor water lines you may be using for irrigation. Early on in the fall, you may still be able to keep on outdoor water lines if you still are watering your landscape, but be sure to turn them off at night if temperatures get below freezing. Once you no longer need to water it’s time to drain hoses, blow out water lines with an air compressor and shut off outdoor water valves. Be sure that after shutting off an outdoor water valve that you still turn on the spigot to drain out any water in the pipe.
4. Fertilize and Reseed the Lawn
The centerpiece of most any yard is the lawn. A beautifully kept, lush green lawn is a testament to an attentive landscaper and only sets off the look of the rest of the landscape. Once a lawn has matured there is little maintenance that needs to be done during the spring and summer, often limited to weeding and regular mowing. However, just because the grass isn’t growing very fast and the weather is getting chilly doesn’t mean it’s time to stop caring for the lawn.
Firstly, it is very important to continue mowing if the lawn is still growing considerably. The lawn may be kept slightly longer than usual but should never grow past 3″. Once to the 3″ and above length you risk matting or thatching, especially once snow falls. This leads to dead spots and even issues with fungus or mold growth. Take note of any bare spots and reseed these areas. Fall is the ideal time for reseeding lawns, whether you’re spot treating or replacing an entire lawn.
Fertilizing should also be done to help the lawn get through winter. There are two periods to fertilize in the fall. Early September is the ideal time for the first fertilization. Be sure to use a high-quality fertilizing product. After 6 to 8 weeks you may fertilize again, using the same product and method.
5. Attack Weeds with a Vengeance
Keep an eye out for weeds right up until winter. Fall is an excellent time to really go after any and all weeds you don’t want to deal with in the spring. The main reason why fall is an opportune time for this is that weeds, just like any other plant in fall, will be soaking up as much water from the ground as possible to prepare for winter. This also means that weed killers will be even more effective at the time.
Rototilling flower beds will also help prevent weeds from growing and will make planting flowers or edible plants in the spring easier. Getting rid of the dead, pulled weeds is an important step to prevent regrowth or seeds spreading in the spring. Composting weeds is usually the best route to go. Mulching is another tactic to get a headstart on reducing weeds in the spring.
Putting in the effort to prepare your landscape for winter requires a little time but is well-worth it come spring. Properly winterizing a landscape will give you peace of mind that your hard work over the year won’t go to waste and you’ll enter spring with a landscape eager to return to its former glory.