Fall Cleanup 101:
When should I do Fall cleanup and what needs to happen?
Forget New Year’s — to us, fall marks a fresh new beginning and a clean slate. The kids are back in school. The leaves are turning. We swap out our summer wardrobes for cozy sweaters and flannels, we start eating pumpkin everything, and we make the shift from nonstop A/C to nonstop heating (with, ideally, at least a small neutral window in between!).
Fall is also the time to help your home, yard and garden make the transition that will carry it through our rough northern winters. If you’ve never done a proper fall cleanup, you’ll be amazed what a difference it makes when spring finally rolls around.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why are fall cleanups important?
Winter asks a lot of our homes and our yards – especially in Minnesota. Fall cleanup is a great opportunity to prepare your lawn and garden for spring, reducing the risk of developing damaging plant and grass diseases over the winter.
And while many people think of fall cleanups as exclusive to the yard, it’s critical to pay attention to other areas of your home. Proper preparation can lower energy bills, prevent breakdowns, keep you warmer, and even help prevent fires and other home damage.
What should be included in my fall cleanup?
OUTSIDE THE HOME
- Remove excess leaves around your air conditioning unit. Not only do dead leaf piles trap unwanted excess moisture, but they also attract mice who want to build a winter nest!
- Frozen icicles or melted snow can fall on top of the air conditioner condenser outside your home, possibly damaging the unit. Cover the top of the air conditioning condenser with a sturdy wooden board and place a few bricks on top to weigh it down.
- Remove fallen sticks, branches and other debris from your lawn and garden.
- Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams, which can damage your roof, and, in serious backups, it can cause water damage INSIDE your home.
- If time permits, bonus activities include: tilling your garden and adding a layer of compost; aerating and fertilizing your lawn; and pruning your trees and bushes.
INSIDE THE HOME
- Check your windows and doors for drafts. Pro tip: remove curtains, blinds, or other flammable window treatments. Then hold a lighted candle next to the window and see if the flame wobbles or blows. If there’s a draft, you can seal it with caulk or a rubber draft guard or bring in a professional.
- Vacuum and sweep out woodboring fireplaces. Call a professional to get a chimney inspection. Dirty fireplaces can spread unwanted fine particles throughout the indoor air of your home.
- Have your boiler or furnace inspected and tuned up by a professional so it’s ready to go for winter.
- Consider giving your A/C an end-of-season tune-up. Fall can be a great time to take care of your A/C because appointments are easy to grab and it’s one less thing to worry about for the spring.
When should I do my fall cleanup?
The short answer is: Before the first snow!
As long as your grass is still growing, you can continue to mow it. Try to rake your leaves regularly throughout the fall season rather than wait until your yard is thickly blanketed – the lack of sunlight and trapped moisture can be really rough on your lawn.
Gutter cleaning should also be done regularly, with a final clean-out before cold temperatures cause wet leaves to freeze. Window caulking needs to be done while it’s warm enough for the caulk to set; a temperature of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. And, caulk works best when outside weather conditions are dry.
What should I outsource?
There are companies that specialize in landscaping fall clean-ups, and they can handle everything from mowing to raking to pruning to garden prep.
For safety reasons (as well as practicality), you should definitely leave tasks like chimney inspections and heating and A/C tune-ups to the professionals. We don’t know about you, but we’d really rather have someone else deal with our gutters.
How can I save money on fall cleanup?
Consider going in with a neighbor on a fall cleanup for your lawn or garden – some companies will offer a discount if they can do adjacent properties all at once.
You also may be able to find an enterprising high school or college student to handle basic tasks that need to be repeated (like mowing or raking) for a modest fee so you only have to pay a professional company to come out once for the major cleanup.
Having your furnace/boiler and A/C tuned up is an investment that can pay off in a big way. It’s a lot less costly to maintain these essential systems than it is to replace them. Furnaces and A/Cs work hard in a place like Minnesota with extreme temperature swings, and regular maintenance is critical.\
How often should I change my furnace filter?
Filter changes are recommended every quarter. There are many benefits to having clean furnace filters: optimized air flow, cleaner indoor air (reduces allergy symptoms), protects the equipment itself, and more efficient operation to save you money!
A proper fall cleanup can do wonders for your home, yard and garden over the winter – and make spring much more pleasant. Get it done right and then you can sit back with a pumpkin spice latté and cozy up in peace.
Outdoor electrical boxes
Is your home ready for Halloween? How about enjoying these last cozy nights outside (with no bugs!)? Outdoor electrical boxes can make so many things easier. Think: holiday lights or patio lights, music, projected movies, charging yard equipment and toys.
If you need to add outdoor electrical boxes or get yours repaired (they take a beating in Minnesota!), now’s the time, before we’re all snowed in for the winter.