Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Late Fall Maintenance

Mid October is here and soon winter winds will be blowing. Around the Chicago area, the change from summer to fall to winter often happens in just a few weeks. The first week in October, we had temperatures in the 80s. Now in the middle of the month, we already have  frost. It’s time for some late fall maintenance! You can achieve many of these small repairs for just a few dollars and prevent costly repairs down the road. Know your limits however; roof repair and tree trimming are sometimes better left to the experts.

We have pulled out most of the garden, as most vegetables will not produce after the first frost. We left the peppers and peas, as these will produce until the first hard freeze. Besides, next week it could be 70 again!

While the weather is still somewhat comfortable, check around the house for anything that needs attention before winter. Check all the caulking around the exterior. The summer heat and sun can be deteriorating. Look around windows and doors as well, then repair with a good quality, exterior-rated caulk. Check sidewalks and concrete for cracks that can worsen with winter freeze and thaw. Repair cracks less than ½ inch deep with concrete caulk, not regular caulk.

Check roof and gutters. All shingles should look uniform with no loose ones. Gutters should be tight; affix straps as needed. Gutters should be clean and free flowing to prevent ice damming in the winter. For now, make sure all water flows away from the foundation and does not go back.

As for the foundation, keeping water away is key. Do not keep plantings too close. Clean any debris and leaves that gather from windy fall days. Debris around the foundation is an invitation for mold, rot, and bugs. Clean around the air conditioner compressor also. Do not cover! This unit needs free airflow (even in winter) to avoid material deterioration.

Check trees surrounding the house. Trim as necessary to avoid problems in winter. Branches heavy from snow can break and fall onto the house, wreaking havoc on roofs and exterior. Note too-close branches also; strong winds can blow them right into a window. Keep in mind: snow-covered branches can weigh twice as much as normal.