It may still be summer in most of the country, but autumn leaves and—cover your ears!—the first frost are just around the corner. Before the temperatures dip, spend some time getting your home and yard ready for colder days to come with this handy checklist of weekend to-dos.
In the Yard
• Clean up the Garden: As vegetable plants start to wither, clear them out and toss them on the compost pile so your garden is ready for next year. Many perennials and annuals are still going strong right now, but when their season comes to an end, deadhead spent blooms and clear out dead stalks as well so you can start gardening with a fresh slate in the spring.
• Plant Shrubs and Trees: Cooler fall days are a great time to plant new shrubs and trees: the plants have plenty of time to establish new roots before the first frost and gives them an extra season to grow before the stress of summer heat and dry spells. Another bonus? You can usually score a deal on plants at the end of the season. Just be sure to provide adequate water and fertilizer after planting.
• Add Mulch to Garden Beds. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to protect their roots from cold winter weather.
• Winterize Outdoor Water Lines. Drain hoses and store them for the winter, and drain and switch off sprinkler systems and outdoor faucets so they don’t freeze and burst over winter. Give outdoor faucets an extra layer of protection with a Frost King Faucet Protector. Watch this video to see how our Faucet Protector insulates your outdoor spigots and how to install it:
• Plant Spring Bulbs. If you want a brilliant display of color in the spring, you need to plant bulbs like daffodils, crocuses, tulips, hyacinth, irises and allium before the first frost. To ensure success, dig a hole that is 2 to 3 times deeper than the height of the bulb, place the bulb pointy side up (and root side down) in the hole, and refill with dirt.
• Clean Gutters. Clogged gutters can cause icicles and ice dams to form on your roof in the winter, but a little preventative maintenance can protect your roof from expensive damage. Clean out gutters once the leaves are off the trees to remove leaves and debris that can clog up downspouts and stop water from flowing away from your home. Check for leaks and loose support hangers, and make sure the gutters are sloped properly – they should decline at least ¼-inch every 10 feet. Once you’re done, protect against future clogs by installing Frost King’s Vinyl Snap-in Gutter Screens and Plastic Downspout Guards.
• Install Heat Cables. Think back to last winter: did icicles and ice dams form on your roof? If so, install electric heat cables to stop ice build-up this winter. Heating cables work by melting ice dams that build up on your roof and gutters. Frost King’s Electric Roof Cable Kits install easily to help keep melt water flowing through gutters and downspouts, even in frigid below-zero temperatures. The kits come with shingle clips and cable spacers, along with complete installation instructions. Choose a dry, warm day to do the job, and check out our DIY video for help with installation:
• Order Firewood. If you’re looking forward to woodburning fires this winter, now’s the time to lay in a supply of seasoned or kiln-dried firewood. To keep firewood as dry as possible, position your wood stack in direct sunlight, keep logs off the ground and away from walls, and stack it loosely enough that air can circulate freely.
Inside Your Home
• Add Weatherstripping. Proper weatherstripping can keep warm air in your home and cold air out, making your home more comfortable and your heating bills lower. Check around doors and windows for loose, damaged, or missing weatherstripping that make your home drafty. Replacing worn weatherstripping is a relatively easy DIY project: watch this video for tips before you get started:
• Install outlet covers. Windows and doors aren’t the only areas of your home that leak air. An estimated 2 to 5 percent of heat loss comes from electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for these air leaks: simply install Frost King Electric Outlet Sealers to stop hidden drafts throughout your home. This video gives you easy step-by-step instructions to safely seal outlets and light switches and stop the air leaks for good:
• Schedule a Fireplace Cleaning. Have a professional chimney sweep come in to inspect your chimney and make sure it’s in good working order. And be sure to keep the flue damper closed when you’re not using the fireplace to keep out drafts and moisture.