Photo of a man raking leaves in the yard in fall

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Fall tips all around the house

Photo of a man raking leaves in the yard in fall

The garden is done. We have pulled the last of the tomato plants, and they have given their all. It’s best to remove all plant material from the garden. I used to leave the plants in through winter, but I learned better! Most tomato plants will end up with some disease or another, so you don’t want that in your soil, and it’s best not to compost them as well. We add some compost, homemade or store bought to the garden. Till it in lightly, and let some of the leaves from the trees in the yard cover the garden. They will break down to add nutrients to the soil overwinter.

Keep clearing the leaves off the lawn every other day or so. Grass is still growing well in the cooler weather and keeping it going as long as possible will ensure a good start to the lawn in the spring. Keep watering. It is important to get as much water as possible into the soil before the ground freezes. In the Chicagoland area we have had less than an inch of rain this entire month. Any newer plantings like trees and shrubs need regular watering before winter. Trickle a hose a few feet away from the stem or trunk. Let it go for at least two hours. There’s no such thing as overwatering here!

Keep an eye out for clogged drains, gutters, and downspouts. With all the leaves falling there can be buildup, especially if you have trees around you with small leaves. This is most important when there is insufficient rain to wash the debris through the system. Having clogged gutters and downspouts is especially dangerous in winter as they will clog with ice which will creep up the roof line, cause damage to the shingles, and can leak into the house. Remember, ladders can be dangerous. If you have any trepidation about climbing on the ladder, call a professional. A good handyman can do a lot of good and it won’t be too costly. The drains all around the outside can get clogged easily too this time of year. Check any you have on the outside, especially those below grade which can cause a basement flood if there is heavy rain.  

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago