Thursday, August 18, 2011

fall to-do list

Overwhelmed by the impending frigid temps? Not sure where to start to get your home and garden winterized? I'm no pro, but I can share with you the steps I take to make sure the winter months and subsequently spring, go a little smoother!

PUT THE SCREENS AWAY - Windows don't get opened in the wintertime anyway, so why look through the dark screens all winter. It will brighten up your home and give you a clearer view of the beautiful snow-scene.

CUT BACK YOUR PLANTS - It may take some extra effort amongst everything else you need to do in the fall, but take the time to cut back your dead/dying plants. ONLY trim back the plants that start fresh from the ground each year (like Joe Pie-Weed, Peonies, Lilies, etc.) I always leave a few inches stick out of the ground to 'mark' where the plant is next year, in case I decide to move plants or add new ones before they come up.

SWAP YOUR CLOSET - Once there are more cold days than warm, swap out your summer clothes for your fall/winter wardrobe. If you've never done this, buy a few totes and pack away your shorts, tanks, sundresses, etc. It will free up tons of closet space for you, and it'll feel like "Christmas" when summer comes and you have a brand "new" wardrobe to choose from! Take this opportunity to swap out jackets too.

GARAGE & PATIO - Take a Sunday afternoon and clean and organize your garage. Get the mower stored to the back and get the snow blower and shovels out and ready to go. Pack away life-jackets, sprinklers, pots, hoses, etc. Take inside anything that will go bad if it freezes - like paints, stains, etc. Buy salt, new shovels and even a bag of sand if needed. That way you're ready when winter weather arrives. Also, put away your patio furniture. Store it away if you have the room (we put ours on top of our camper in the garage), or at least cover it. It will extend the life of your investment.

SPRUCE THINGS UP - When things are dead/dying in your flower beds, spruce up the exterior of your home with simple fall decorations. Hay bales can be purchased for about $2 each and corn stalks for $3 each. (or take them from yours or your neighbors garden (with permission of course!)) I like to add pumpkins (which voluntarily grow in my compost each summer), gourds (which are easily grown on a fence or trellis), and a few pots of mums (I particularly like the purple and yellow together, or purple and orange), and I made a scarecrow. So easy! Directions for him will be at the bottom of this blog post. With a little effort, your entryway will be ready for the fall months!

GARDEN - pull out the remaining plants. Winterize to save your root crops. Follow this link to learn how to harvest from your garden year round. Turn your compost pile and incorporate usable compost into your garden when you till it under for the winter. We also take a stake and mark where the compost is. That way, when the snow is deep, we still know where to find it to dump our scraps.

YARD - Cage up your delectable plants. You know, the ones the rabbits and deer love. We do simple cages using chicken wire and some plastic stakes. You can also buy plant covers or commercial sprays and powders to put around plants throughout the winter to keep these pesky animals away from your precious plants!

HOUSE - clean out your gutters after the last of the leaves fall. Sounds old-school, right? But seriously. Once that snow melts you'll want all that run-off going where it's supposed to go. Also, spray for bugs & spiders. Come winter, those buggers will be coming inside where it's warm and I don't know if you're like me, but I don't like extra residents around here! One last thing. Wash (at least) the outside of your windows. The insides are easy to do in winter, but trust me, Windex does not work well in sub zero temps.

SHOPPING LISTS & GIFT GIVING - If you haven't started your Christmas shopping by this point, it's not too early. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for, how much you budget to spend and some ideas for each person. Then put this list in your purse. That way, when you're out shopping, it's handy and you can pick things up as you find them on sale. Plus, I find that if I have the list handy and ready to look at a bunch, I'm thinking of it often and my shopping gets done much sooner. Take this time to also plan out any gifts you might be hand making. Buy the materials now and don't procrastinate! Get started on them so you're not rushed as it gets closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You'll feel much better knowing they're done and out of the way. In fact, invite some girlfriends over and have a crafting day! Put on some coffee and set to work!

ODDS AND ENDS - take clothespins off the line.... drain hoses and put them away.... check weatherstripping and replace if needed.... vacuum cobwebs....


What you'll need:

-bib overalls
-plaid long sleeved shirt
-1-2 bales of hay
-twine (I just used what was on the bale of hay)

First stuff the shirt full of hay. Make some stick out of the end of the shirt sleeves & the neck hole. Use twine to tie it tight so the hay stays put.

Next, put the bib overalls over the shirt like you would getting dressed. Proceed to stuff the pants full of hay as well. You can use safety pins to keep the shirt tucked in if necessary. I didn't need them. Leave hay hang out the leg holes and tie them shut with twine like you did the sleeves and neck.

Lastly, prop him sitting up and set a pumpkin in place for a head. You can use a fake pumpkin if you want to keep it there. Just push a piece of dowel through the fake pumpkin so it's like it's on a stake and then put the dowel through the neck hole to keep it from falling off.

Put the hat on top!

So simple and inexpensive and something you can store and reuse year after year.

HINT: Use some of your old clothes or shop the el-cheapo thrift stores for clothes. I got mine for only $1 per article of clothing, and the bale of hay was a mere $2. So for $3 and a fun hour with the kids, we have ourselves a cutie patootie scarecrow to use each year!

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