With shorter days and the the first real snowfall around the corner, it’s the right time to finish last-minute projects around the house before winter sets in.
- CHECK VENTS: Close vents in unheated basement area, but keep attic vents open. Replace rusted or damaged pipes from gas water heaters and your dryer.
- ADJUST THERMOSTATS FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY. If you have multiple thermostats in your home for different zones, set temperatures for the way you use the rooms: bedrooms cooler, baths and sitting areas warmer. PREVENT THE OVERLOAD OF ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS.Make certain electrical cords aren’t covered by rugs or heavy curtains; they can overheat and cause a fire.
- CLEAR PATHWAYS AND STOOPS TO MAKE SNOW SHOVELING EASIER. Make sure there is ready access to your woodpile, gas and oil tanks, and garbage cans.
- CLEAN GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS. But wait until most of the leaves have dropped. You may want to invest in a gutter scoop.
- INSPECT SUPPORTS, RAILINGS, AND STAIRS. A flimsy handrail might give way when someone slipping on ice or snow grabs it suddenly. Check that footings under support posts are secure and haven’t shifted due to water infiltration, settling, or frost.
- Take winter linens out of storage and launder. Dry clean garments packed in mothballs to remove the camphor odor. Toss out herbal repellants, as they lose their potency over time.
Your garden’s not ready to snooze just yet
If you haven’t put them in the ground already, hop to it. This is actually a great time to get bulbs, because they’re often 50% off or more as companies move their stock out. Use a bulb planter to speed the process (remember to sprinkle some bulb food in the bottom of the hole) and go to town across the garden. Bulbs look best in massed plantings, so think about that as you plan things out.
Be aware that some bulbs, like daffodils and iris, aren’t very interesting to gophers, and can in fact make a great protective ring around tender plants like young apple trees. Others, such as tulips, are a gopher’s delight, and need to be planted in cages and containers or you won’t see them come spring.
Clean Up Beds and Borders
All those dead plants? Yeah, it’s really time to make those go away now. Trim away dead foliage, uproot weeds, compost the leavings, and cultivate the beds to leave them smooth and even for next year. You can work in some mulch and compost to condition the soil, if you like. In mild climates, try planting overwintering flowers and crops, like mums and kale. In cooler reaches, well, all that ugly soil will be covered by snow soon!
Drain and Insulate Hoses, Standpipes, and Other Fixtures
With frost comes broken pipes, unless you act ahead of time. Drain all your outdoor water fixtures and cut their water supply so they won’t fill up. Put hoses in storage, and insulate your standpipes to prevent cracking and ice damage in the winter. When your neighbors are tearing their hair out and calling an emergency plumber over broken pipes, you can continue lounging in front of the heater.
Still have a leaf problem? Not surprising — many trees are just starting to turn across the country. Set aside 30 minutes or so each week for leaf control.
For the Birds
Make sure your bird feeders are full for your avian visitors. They’ll appreciate seeds and suet during the cold winter months. Don’t be surprised if you see squirrels as well, looking for things to snack on. If you start noticing mice and rats, consider hiring a cat — but in the short term, you’ll want to try elevating the bird feeder and installing a tray to catch fallen seeds so they don’t end up on the ground.
Have fun working on your Checklist and when you are taking a break enjoy a Hot Beverage.