Closing in on winter

Lee's Summit JournalOctober 30, 2013 

Is fall your favorite season of the year? Besides enjoying football games and the World Series, we can look forward to the excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa as the year winds down.

But it’s also a little melancholy for those of us who enjoy outdoor activities as we envision long, cold, gray days spent inside. When it comes to the end-of-season chores, it’s a temptation to turn a blind eye and vow to clean up the gardens when spring and new inspiration comes. There are a few "must do" chores and many others that lend themselves to procrastination.

I used to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine which had a fascinating feature, a calendar with suggested daily chores from the nation’s superwoman. I probably only accomplished 1 percent of them, but it was always fun to read her advice to wax the outdoor furniture, scrub and grease the shovels, take clippings of the honeysuckle and alphabetize the spice rack – all in just one day.

Let’s get real. Here is a more practical list of chores to keep your property safe and presentable over the long winter months, thanks to the Idiot’s Guide to Getting Organized.

Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas and children's summer toys.

Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.

Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer's recommendations to re-caulk if needed.

Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping and door thresholds if needed.

Wash exterior windows.

Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.

Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.

Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

I would add:

Remove all annual flowers and trim perennials and shrubs as recommended. (Some shouldn’t be touched in the fall). Pests and diseases love spending the winter in plant waste.

Mulch tender plants after the first freeze.

Make a final tour around the house and yard to pick up any trash remaining. Food wrappers and plastic bags seem to collect in the shrubs

Trim and remove any broken limbs that could break under the weight of heavy snow.

Remove heavy concentrations of leaves, as they can choke out the lawn beneath them. Use leaves for compost or mulch.

Add stabilizer to the gas tank in lawn mowers and other equipment.

Winterize lawn with appropriate fertilizer treatment (preferably in October).

Now, you’re ready for some hot chocolate and hibernation, knowing your home is prepared for winter. Enjoy!


Carol Rothwell is a member of the Lee’s Summit Beautification Commission and a Lee’s Summit resident.

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