And it’s a beautiful day; have you had a chance check out the weather for the weekend, in the Madison area it’s supposed to be quite beautiful on Sunday. You know what that means don’t you? It’s time to getting out the Fall Maintenance List. Don’t have one? We have compiled a list of tasks you may consider completing to keep your home and lawn in good working order.
1. You may have already missed the opportunity to fertilize before the first frost, but the upcoming warm weather may make it okay. It’s good to fertilize before the first frost to provide nutrients for the winter months. Aerate for good root development. And while you may not want to, you should keep mowing the lawn until it stops growing. It can be kept at between 2 ½ and 3 inches tall during the winter months.
2. Overseed your lawn when necessary. If there are bare spots larger than a softball, seed those areas from early September through mid-October.
3. Kill the weeds now to minimize weed growth in the spring. October is a great time to get good weed control going.
4. Once your mowing season is over, drain the gas from the mower, clean the blades and put it in protected storage.
5. If you have an irrigation system, now is the time to drain the system before the winter weather hits. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, call a local company to drain the irrigation system for you.
1. Early fall is a great time to plant. The soil is still warm enough for roots to grow, but the weather is beginning to cool, so you won’t have to water as much.
2. Fall color can be added now too. Flowers other than the traditional and well-known chrysanthemum that offer late garden beauty include: autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), with vase-shaped flowers and blooms in rose to white to lavender, can be used in a border or planted in clumps; strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum); numerous varieties of aster (some last from July to November); goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) provides a tall cheery yellow to any flowerbed; and Helenium provides organe, red, and yellow accents.
3. Don’t forget trees and grasses. Fountain grasses (Pennisetum alopecuroides), burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and blueberry bushes are phenomenal additions. In the fall, both flame into scarlet, adding brilliant color to the landscape. Fall-blooming reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) and small Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus oligostachyus) are easy to care for and give big visual results.
4. This is also a wonderful time for plant bargains. A few years ago I got mums at the grocery store and picked up a six sad-looking lillies. They have bloomed beautifully the summer after I made the impromptu purchases providing both summer and fall color for our front garden.
5. Now is the time to plant spring flower bulbs; tulips come to mind. It also a good time of year to take out the bulbs that don’t overwiter well, such as dahlias.
6. Trim trees (hiring a professional is a good idea) if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
7. Rake away all debris and edible vegetation away from the foundation.
8. Make sure your snowblower is cleaned, gassed up and ready to go. If you are not inclined to go out and shovel the snow now is also a good time to call the local landscapers and see what sorts of deals they are offering. Also in preparations for the snow it is a good idea to dust off and inspect snow shovels and check the amount of sand or salt you have for those slippery sidewalks and entrance areas.
1. Make sure gutters are secure and clean of leaves and other debris.
2. Inspect your home’s foundation and seal entry points to keep small animals from seeking the warmth of the indoors. Seal any cracks.
3. Inside your home, install and/or test smoke- and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a good idea to place a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace.
4. Have your furnace inspected and cleaned before cold weather hits. It will not only save you from a chilly night with a broken furnace, it will be less expensive to have it done before the height of furnace season.
5. If you didn’t change the air filter this spring, change it now.
6. Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
7. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
8. Drain air-conditioning pipes. If your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
9. Use weatherstripping around doors and windows to prevent cold air from entering.
10. Switch screens to storm windows.
1. Make sure the cap on the top of your chimney is secure. You really don’t want critters climbing down and making your house their home.
2. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
3. Buy firewood.
4. Inspect the damper to make sure it opens and closes properly.
Finished your list? You deserve a reward, how about some mulled wine or warmed apple cider? Enjoy the rest of Fall.