Archive for Thursday, October 20, 2005

Autumn’s changing leaves signal time to get your home and yard ready for winter

October 20, 2005

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Preparing your home

¢ Roof: Inspect your roof for any missing or damaged shingles and replace them. Examine flashing (protective metal strips around vents and other roof openings) for leaks.

¢ Siding: Check your home's siding for cracks and gaps. Caulk and patch them to prevent leaks and the damage that could result from them.

¢ Chimney: It should have a cap to keep out animals and moisture. Use a flashlight to inspect the inside of your fireplace. The damper should operate freely, and the flue should be free of creosote buildup, which poses a fire hazard.

¢ Gutters: Remove leaves and debris that can clog gutters and downspouts, resulting in flooded basements and damage to roofs and walls.

¢ Furnace: Clean or change furnace filter. Have a professional inspect and service your heating unit.

¢ Garage: Check the weather stripping at the bottom of the garage door to ensure it will keep out snow and cold.

Tree and shrub watering

Trees and shrubs planted within the past two years should be watered twice a month. Newly planted or transplanted trees and shrubs benefit from a thorough watering every seven to 10 days. More frequent watering may encourage root rot.

Pond

By November, remove debris from bottom of pool, and check and clean filters. Sink the pots of hardy plants to the deepest part of the pond. Move tender plants indoors for the winter.

Mulch

Apply several inches of winter mulch to perennials, shrubs and trees after several hard freezes.

Vegetable garden

Remove dead plant material to discourage pests and disease. Add a couple of inches of compost or other organic matter and turn the soil.

Lawn maintenance

Continue mowing your lawn as long as it's growing. Fall also is an ideal time to aerate; it reduces thatch, loosens compacted soils and make it easier for water and nutrients to reach roots. Cut back on watering, but don't discontinue. During winter, water once a month on a warm day if snow cover isn't present.

Lawn fertilizing

Fall is an ideal time to fertilize lawns. Nitrogen is the key ingredient. If you applied fertilizer in September or early October, you can still make another application in early to mid-November.

Raking leaves

A thick layer of dead leaves blocks all light on lawns and other ground covers. Keep up with raking.

Hint: You can mow raked leaves into smaller pieces and use them as mulch or add them to a compost pile.

Bulbs

Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils and crocus. After a light frost, dig cannas, gladiolus, dahlias and other tender bulbs for winter storage in a cool, dry place.

Roses

If hybrid roses have grown excessively, prune canes back to 36 inches in November. By Thanksgiving, create an 8- to 10-inch-high mound of soil or compost around each plant. After the ground has frozen, add a 4-inch mulch of straw, crushed leaves or hay.

Fall planting

Plant new perennials, trees and shrubs by the end of October, and keep them watered during dry winter months.

Perennial bed

Trim perennial stalks to tidy the garden for winter. Leave those that add off-season interest, such as sedum and ornamental grasses, until spring.

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