Gearing Up for Fall

Put away the pool toys and patio chairs…fall is around the corner. Get organized for autumn with these top 10 tips:

10. Pack Up the Summer Clothes

Time to pack up your summer clothes and make way for the cool weather ones. But before you do, bring them to the dry cleaners to help prevent moth damage. Then place all clothes in tightly sealed boxes or bags, and instead of using mothballs, try cedar chips. Or, create your own natural concoction. The Center for Science & Environmental Outreach suggests mixing half a pound of rosemary, half a pound of mint, and a quarter pound of thyme with two tablespoons of cloves, then place it in cheesecloth bags. This way, it’ll smell good while keeping that moth larvae away.

9. Clean Your Chimneys

Get ready for chilly nights curled up by the hearth. Before you strike that match, make sure your chimney is clear of dirt and soot. Our friends at doityourself.com say that the process of burning wood produces a highly combustible black, sticky layer in chimneys. You can dislodge the built-up material from last year’s roaring fires by simply and carefully scraping a brush through its interior. When you’re done, play it safe and place the ashes in an airtight container. Even though they may seem cool, they can still retain heat and burn through paper or plastic bags.

8. Secure Your Windows

Where’s that draft coming from? Save yourself from asking this question when the weather turns cold by insulating your windows now. Seasoned home builders claim that heat loss through window and door cracks can increase a home’s heating bill by 35 percent. Check to see if you have drafts by holding up a tissue near window frames on a windy day. Seal the cracks with caulking, or attach a clear plastic film inside the window with tape to prevent cold air from seeping in. Then, give your windows and screens a good washing. This way you’ll be cozy in your home while having a clear view of the changing seasons.

7. Fertilize the Lawn

Grass always greener on the other side? Well, now you can make your own lawn look just as beautiful. Autumn is the best time to fertilize it. My Kinda Living suggests to do it twice in the fall, then come spring, you won’t have to fertilize it again. Let it breathe by creating small holes in the soil. This way, you’ll create a path for air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots. You can rent an aerating machine at most rental centers. And, as it turns colder, cut your grass shorter to about two inches. Pay attention now, and next year your lawn will look luscious.

6. Aid Your Allergies

Ah-choo! Stocking up on tissues this season? Allergies to weeds and mold come into full swing during autumn. About.com says that ragweed is the number one cause of fall hay fever in the U.S. It’s pollen can travel as far as 400 miles, so even if it doesn’t grow nearby, you can still get the sniffles. When mowing or raking leaves, try wearing something over your nose and mouth. Then, after spending a long time outside, shower immediately and launder clothes in hot water to remove pollen. Remember that pollen counts are highest between 5 and 10 AM, so try to do your outdoor activities in the afternoon.

5. Rake it Up

There’s nothing like experiencing the warm, vibrant colors of fall. Leaves turn, then soon return to Mother Earth. It’s important to rake that layer of foliage or else it could smother your lawn during the winter. Stock up on tools such as a lawn blower, a rake and trash bags. Instead of throwing away your leaves, why not compost them and use them as soil amendment next year? Landscaping.about.com suggests shredding them with your lawnmower before you toss them in a compost bin. This way they’ll decompose more quickly. By springtime, you can add it to your soil, just in time to nurture new blooms.

4. Clean Your Gutters

Don’t get out of the gutter. Get into it! Keeping your gutter clear of debris is a low-cost maintenance chore that could turn costly if you don’t keep on top of it. When clogged, it could cause problems such as rotting wood, premature paint failure, wet basements and termites. We suggest cleaning them mid-fall and then again after all the leaves have dropped. Once they’re debris-free, make it easy on yourself and invest in gutter screens. These help to channel rain water away from the foundation, while keeping foliage and furry creatures out. Future maintenance will be reduced considerably, allowing you to rest and relax instead.

3. Stock Your Spice Pantry

Apple pies, pumpkin bread, chestnut stuffing and hot cider…mmm! Holiday cooking is one of the best aspects of autumn. Be prepared to make your favorite fall recipes by having your pantry stocked with popular spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. To keep things fresh and flavorful, allholidayrecipes.com suggests storing them in a cool, dark place away from heat, humidity and light. Try using small glass or plastic airtight containers. This way, ground spices may retain their flavors for a year, while whole spices could last up to five years. Bon apetite!

2. Check the Furnace

Jack Frost will soon be nipping at your nose, so check your furnace before you need to use it. According to powerhousetv.com, dust and dirt can build up during the summer and reduce your furnace’s ability to run properly. Eventually it could damage the motor. Keep it running efficiently with a few steps. Change or clean your filter; replace frayed belts; inspect for cracks and blockages; check the pilot light, if it has one; and take a look at the drain to make sure it’s properly attached and flowing freely. Feel confident knowing that you’ll be able to quickly warm your home during that first frosty night.

1. Create a Checklist

As we move into a new season, keep on top of your transitional tasks and create a to-do list for home as well as fall garden chores. To stay motivated, separate it into small, manageable chores, then check off each one after completion. Include items such as store the garden hose, dry clean summer clothes, pull out warm blankets and flip all mattresses. It’s best to work from the outside in before the cool weather creeps up and daylight savings ends. Get it all done in a timely manner and soon you’ll feel good about spending more time in your home. Check our link for a complete list.

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