Here in the Twin Cities area we have been very blessed with a warmer than average fall. But that's going to change soon...very soon. Are your house and yard ready for winter?
Today we highlight some tips for getting your home and stuff ready for the long winter ahead. A little investment of time now could save you a lot of heartache come spring.
Mulch up the leaves - Leaves make great mulch and add much needed nutrients to gardens and compost piles. Make the most of this valuable and free resource!
Trim down your plants - Many of your garden plants, like hostas and daylilies, could use a nice trim right before winter sets in. Leave a few inches of steps poking up and add some leaf mulch. This is also a great time to prune back bushes. Consider leaving tall ornamental grasses, however, to add visual interest during the winter months.
Continue to water your trees and shrubs - Adequate water supplies help trees and shrubs throughout the winter and give them a boost come spring. You can continue watering plants until the ground freezes completely - you'll know when the water just runs off instead of soaking in.
But then shut off the water - Water left in silcocks and hoses can do a great deal of damage. Once the evening temperatures start dropping below freezing, it's time to turn off the water to all your outdoor spigots and put your hoses and water nozzles away for the winter. Now is also the time to blow out your sprinkler system, too.
Plant spring bulbs - Fall is the perfect time to get tulips, daffodils and any other bulbs planted. Come spring, you'll have lots of glorious color right when you're longing for it.
Deal with outdoor furniture - Now is a great time to inspect your outdoor furniture, make repairs, and spruce up the paint or stain. Then find a good spot to store them for the winter so they are out of the way. If you have a shed, your set. If not, under the deck or under the eaves behind the garage are good spots, too.
Winterize your summer machines - Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, motorcycles, fishing boat motors...they all need to be winterized and stored until next year. While every motor has its own unique maintenance needs, generally most will do best with a fresh oil change and either a fuel stabilizer or simply running the fuel out of it before storage.
Warm up your winter equipment - Do some maintenance on your snowblower before you need it. Make sure it starts and fix anything that isn't working properly so that you're set to go when the snow flies.
Clean out the gutters - During late winter and early spring there will be many episodes of thawing and refreezing. If your gutters are full of old leaves then the melted water may make its way under your shingles and refreeze, causing ice dams that can do severe damage to your roof.
Put up Christmas lights - Yes, it may seem early, but won't you be glad that you did it while it was sunny and 50 degrees instead of -10 with blowing snow? You don't need to turn the lights on yet, but you'll be happy when the season arrives and you can simply flick a switch and be done.
Seal the house - Fight drafts now before the furnace even goes on. Inspect weather stripping on doors and windows and add it where it's needed.
Make sure the furnace works - Crank up that furnace and be sure that it's in good working condition before the really cold weather sets in. While your down there, check that your home's humidifier is in good working order as well.
Get fireplaces ready - If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, be sure the chimney is cleaned of soot and that the damper is working correctly. Inspect a gas fireplace as well to be sure it's in good condition.
Inspect smoke detectors - Sadly, most fires that start inside the home happen in the winter months. Inspect your smoke detectors and replace all the batteries.
Make room for winter gear - In the summer month you might see a few pairs of flip flops on the floor of your mudroom. Now is the time to make room for boots, snowpants, big parkas, hats, mittens and scarves. Set up a spot where wet gear can dry quickly.
Air out the rugs - Now is a great time to take out your area rugs and give them a good whack or two. Clean up any stains and give them time outside so that the sunlight can kill surface germs. A quick spritz or two of an odor eliminator will make them smell fresh and clean when you bring them back indoors.
Replace bulbs in light fixtures - The days are definitely getting shorter which means you'll be using your lights a lot more. To save energy, consider swapping out regular incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient LED lightbulbs. Do this on lights that you know you'll be using for more than four hours per day. LED bulbs are expensive and you may not see the return on your investment if you install them in every fixture of your house.
Set aside a few weekends and winterize your home. Then you can snuggle in with a warm mug of cider in front of your fireplace and let the cold weather come.
Source: Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors