ARTICLE Donna Blaber First published in Renovate magazine
Autumn is one of the busiest seasons on the property maintenance calendar, particularly in regards to garden maintenance and preparing your home for winter.
· Check guttering and downspouts for damage. Make repairs or hire someone to repair for you.
· Clean the gutters and free from leaves. Remember to also check roofing and gutters on garden sheds, garages etc.
· Check fireplace or wood burner to make sure it is in good condition and ready for use.
Clean the chimney or hire a cleaner to do so. If you are unsure if your fire is safe seek professional advice.
· Replace batteries in your smoke alarms. Also replace batteries in torches to prepare for possible power cuts.
· Check drains are not blocked. No matter what size section, lifestyle block or farm you are on, water should flow freely away from your home.
· Check and add insulation where required. Also see my Home Energy Audit report for inexpensive ways to reduce heat loss in your home.
· Check that vents for heat transfer systems are clear of dust and debris. Replace filters in heating systems if required.
· Wrap hot water cylinder and wrap pipes with heat tape or similar to insulate.
· Remove lichen and mosses from decks and patios.
· Check exterior steps to make sure they are safe; inspect wooden steps for rot or damage and ensure pavers do not rock and are firmly held in place.
· Tidy borders by removing old stems and dead foliage.
· Prune deciduous trees and shrubs which have finished flowering and fruiting.
· Mulch around fruit trees.
· Deadhead roses.
· Plant strawberries plants or runners so they are ready to fruit in November.
· Lift and divide rhubarb crowns.
· Plant a cover crop like lupins over any vegetable beds that will not be used during winter.
· Trim all trees and shrubs which come in contact with your home. Cut branches that overhang your roof or brush against your home when it is windy.
· Ensure trees with dead and diseased branches close to your home are removed.
· Plant out any new shrubs, trees or fruit trees that you plan to add to the garden this year. Stake, water and add mulch near base, avoiding the trunk area.
· Plant out hardwood cuttings and flowering bulbs such as daffodils.
· Remove supporting structures and stakes used for runner beans, peas, tomatoes etc, tidy up and store ready for next year.
· Throw away any broken pots and gardening equipment or donate any that you don’t want to keep.
· Service the lawn mower.
· Remove old nests from bird boxes ready for next spring.
· Regularly rake or blow leaves off the lawn (if you leave them moss is encouraged to grow). Leaves make great compost so add them to your heap.
· If you live in a frost prone area, move fragile potted plants to a sheltered place, store the garden hose, and protect outdoor taps.
· Pack up outdoor furniture, tools, brooms, barbecue, summer toys, wading pools, etc and store in a in a dry location.
· In case of winter storms, floods or other natural disasters, make sure your home emergency kit is in good order.
· Service the car. Make sure the tyres have decent tread. Check and replace window wiper blades.
· Replace filters on rainwater harvesting systems.
· Check and replace exterior light bulbs in preparation for early evenings. Reset timers.
· Collect and store firewood or purchase wood if you haven’t already done so.
· If you live rurally check that the entries to crawl spaces under your home are blocked to deter nesting possums.
· Set mouse traps. Whether you’re in the city or country, as the days get colder mice tend to come indoors seeking shelter.