Fall Home and Garden Maintenance

Toronto Life
Fall by Double Feature
Fall by Double Feature

Fall is knocking at the door and as the leaves change their colour, we should prepare our homes and gardens for the upcoming cold weather. Each season your home is exposed to changes in temperature, weather conditions, aging, and wear and tear. Thorough seasonal maintenance lowers your utility bills as well as protects your property. The beginning of fall is the ideal time to scrutinize your home and garden for maintenance purposes. Here’s a list of the most important steps that you shouldn’t miss during fall garden and home maintenance.

Inside The House

First of all, don’t forget to check your heating system including the air filter, pilot lights, and burners before the cold weather begins. Cleaning and replacing the furnace filter on your heating system will increase its efficiency. Be sure that you’ve checked your heating ducts and vents. Clear the dust or any other dirt that may have gotten inside them during the summer. Dust that piles up in ducts is a major cause of interior pollutants and increases the risk of catching a cold-weather illness.

If you want to minimize your heating bills, consider having a heating professional inspect your heating system to ensure the best performance and find out any problems that could eventually turn into costly major repairs. Most of the warm air in homes is lost through the windows and doors. Take some time and go through your home checking windows for any leaks and make sure that the seal and caulking around the window frame is in proper condition. If there are any leaks, use a plastic sealing kit to prevent heat loss.

Fireplace by Tilemahos
Fireplace by Tilemahos

Fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned on a regular basis at least once a year to prevent dangerous chimney fires. The beginning of fall is the ideal time to do this task. If you use the fireplace often and haven’t had it swept for some time, it might be better if you call a chimney sweep for an inspection. The risk of fire increases with the beginning of the heating season, so be sure to review fire safety in your home. Take a look at fire extinguishers and batteries in your smoke detectors and replace them if necessary. Consider setting up a carbon monoxide alarm near the fireplace and furnace.

The beginning of fall is the right time to drain your hot water heater — especially if you live in an area with hard water, which leaves extra amounts of sediment that could pile up in your tank. If there’s already rust in your tank, you should consider purchasing a new one that would be more cost-effective and energy-efficient. Furthermore, this season is ideal for painting interior rooms, as it’s still warm enough to leave your windows open.

Roof, Gutters, Downspouts

Now is the right time to take a look at places that aren’t very visible and are often forgotten. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts aren’t plugged with leaves or other debris. Clogged gutters could lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations, wet basements, and foundation damage as well as many other costly problems. Check that water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are in their place.

As the weather gets colder and rainier, it’s about time to check the condition of your roof to prevent any expensive repairs. Check if your attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof. In addition, make sure that ridge vents and vents at eaves are not hindered by plants or debris.


Garden in Toronto by Madimem43
Garden in Toronto by Madimem43

The growing season might be coming to an end, but it’s still not time to put your garden tools away. It’s time to prepare our gardens for a long sleep. Proper fall preparations for next spring will guarantee your garden a smooth entry into the next growing season.

It’s very important for the early fall garden that you continue to water your plants — especially your evergreens, trees, and shrubs if there’s not enough rain. The best way of preventing problems next year is to clean up garden debris and add it to next year’s compost. Leaves and organic debris can provide shelter for fungi, bacteria, and overwintering insects that could cause a lot of trouble next spring. Furthermore, matted and mouldy tree leaves can smother the ground. Turning it all into compost will save you from a lot of problems as well as provide you with the best plant nourishment. Leaves raked up from your lawn can be used as mulch for flower beds, protecting tender perennials through the winter as well as helping your soil build nutrients.

You don’t have to wait until next spring to divide your overgrown perennials. Doing it now will mean a better start for quicker as well as healthier blooms. Remember to move potted patio and hanging plants that could be harmed by the cold weather inside. Early fall is ideal for planting young trees into the ground and it’s suitable for transplanting any shrubs or small trees that you have earmarked for relocation. Fall is generally a very good season for planting during which young plants can establish strong root structures.

Be sure that you aerate your lawn and reseed any dead or thin spots. The beginning of fall is the best time of the year to lay sod, over-seed, or plant new lawn, as temperatures are cooler and it rains enough during these months. Applying a thin layer of well aged manure to the lawn will enhance new spring growth and help the underlying soil.

Some of your flowering shrubs might need fall pruning. Remember to prune spring-flowering shrubs as early as possible, right after flowering, as they begin to develop flower buds that won’t open until next spring. If you prune them too late, you risk removing developing buds for next year’s flowering season. On the other hand, summer-flowering shrubs should not be pruned before winter, as they start to develop buds during the early spring.

Putting a cover crop like clover or annual rye grass into bare flower beds or vegetable gardens will enhance the soil for next year’s planting. You should enrich the soil with compost early after the final harvest and then plant the cover crop.

One thought on “Fall Home and Garden Maintenance

September 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm
Samantha says:

Great post on fall landscaping! I love using the pine needles in my yard from the pine trees as ground cover for my flower beds during the winter. The pine straw has a brilliant auburn color, insulates my plants and keeps them warm and alive during those freezing nights. It even protects against erosion! Pine straw works best as ground cover in the winter when it is laid about 3″ deep.

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