The weather this past weekend has been perfect for working on outside chores. Nine large leaf bags later and the yard is free of leaves (at least until more blow in). Any leaves that come into the yard from this point on will be raked onto the garden beds to act as mulch, compost and insulation for the long, cold winter to come.
Now that the leaves are raked its time to turn my attention to the remaining fall yard and garden maintenance. The list doesn’t look terribly long, but each item on the list is a process unto itself.
Fall To Do List
- Cleaning Gutters / Eaves and Downspouts
- Garden Tool Cleaning and Storage
- Draining the Garden Hoses
- Draining the Rain Barrel
- Turn off Water to Outside Taps
- Make and Install Frames to Protect Shrubs
Cleaning Gutters / Eaves and Downspouts
This involves getting a ladder to reach the lower eaves and stepping out on the roof to access the upper eaves. I recommend using heavy duty rubber gloves. They keep your hands dry and offer some protection against the often sharp edges of the gutters. The best time to work on the upper eaves is in the afternoon once the frost from the previous night has disappeared - that way the shingles aren’t as slippery. Always remember to wear footwear with a good tread, just in case! This is a job to do before draining and putting away the garden hose. After removing all of the visible debris like leaves, sticks, and tar particles (from shingles) from the gutters and downspouts, it’s a good idea to run some water through them to make sure they are clear. An old wire coat hanger can be used to remove any unseen blockages. Next spring I plan to install mesh Gutter Covers on all of the lower eaves. They’ll help keep the gutters clean, allow rain water to flow through and make cleaning in the fall a whole lot easier!
Garden Tool Cleaning and Storage
Before putting everything away in the fall, I like to give my shovels, rakes and other garden hand tools a little scrub in warm, soapy water. The warm water is for my benefit - don’t want my hands to get too cold. After rinsing them thoroughly, they are left to dry. Once dry, each tool gets a rub down with mineral oil to protect the metal parts from rust. I read somewhere that a spray coating of WD40 will also do the trick. There is a spot reserved in the garden shed for everything to be stored after the clean up.
Draining the Garden Hose
If storing your garden hose outdoors or in an unheated spot for the winter, it should be completely drained before putting it away. Unhook the hose from the tap and lay it out flat to do this. Let gravity do the work for you. Start at one end, raise the hose up, then pull the rest of the hose through your raised hands. Blowing the water out with an air compressor is also a good option. Recoil the hose and connect the two ends together - that way there is no chance of any water getting back in. My hose gets wound up on a Garden Hose Cart that I’ll be wheeling directly into the garden shed.
Draining the Rain Barrel
No water is wasted - it’s used to generously water all the areas where new bulbs have been planted. Replacing the screened lid with the solid lid will keep the snow and ice out of the barrel over the winter months and help to avoid an unnecessary stress on the rain barrel spigot from repeated freeze and thaw cycles.
Turn Off Water to Outside Taps
Avoid frozen and burst pipes by shutting off water to your outside taps. Locate the inside shut off valve, close it tightly, then go back outside and open the outside taps. No pressure, no water, nothing to cause burst pipes.
Make and Install Frames to Protect Shrubs
I’ve never covered shrubs before, however, based on the amount of heavy snow we had last winter, I am planning to build and install a few protective frames this year. Think I’ll go with a simple A-frame. It won’t keep all the snow out, but it will keep most of the weight off and save the poor things from having to spend all of next summer recuperating from the trauma of being buried. More on this list item in another post.
Wish me luck in getting everything done before the snow flies!