Fall is the time to go apple-picking, carve a jack-o’-lantern, and watch the leaves change colors. Those falling leaves, of course, herald another chore for the home gardener; left unraked, they can create a dense, moist barrier that prevents grass from growing.
But a good fall cleanup only begins with raking the leaves. Savvy homeowners should clear gutters of fallen leaves and other debris to keep them flowing through snow melts, according to True Value’s maintenance tips. Also dethatch and aerate the lawn to ensure it gets a healthy start next year, and plant any bulbs you want to bloom first thing in the spring, such as daffodils and tulips.
On the deck or patio, clean and store garden furniture, flowerpots and tools that you don’t want exposed to the elements through the winter. Cover up that outdoor grill or move it indoors to avoid rust and debris. And to rid the deck’s surface of mildew, simply sweep and wash it with a detergent/peroxide solution or power washer.
If you have a vegetable garden, give it a good tilling before the first freeze sets in, the SafeWise Report says. Prune tree branches—especially those likely to buckle under the weight of snow and ice. Thin out, divide and redistribute perennial plants, and they’ll pop up in new places next year without costing you another cent. Protect cold-sensitive plants and new plantings with a heavy layer of mulch.
To clean up your outdoor space in an eco-friendly way, compost raked leaves and other garden detritus, says Rodale’s Organic Life. Given the chance to break down over the winter, they will create a rich source of nutrients for new plants. Also leave a few spots for beneficial insects to winter such as brush piles, and leave leafy green plants in the ground or plant a cover crop of rye grass to eliminate pests and nourish the soil.
If you find that you have more planters, tools, lawn furniture and garden gnomes than you need during the course of a thorough fall cleanup, contact ClothingDonations.org to schedule a pickup. A truck will come and whisk away those extra items (along with clothing and other housewares), and you will no longer need to worry about where to store them for the winter.
Then, kick back with a cup of hot chocolate and the warm feeling that comes with knowing you’ve contributed to a good cause. Enjoy the fall!