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Seasonal Switch: Get Ready for Fall

From weatherproofing your home to prepping your garden, here are some tips from the experts to help usher in the new season

A hand is shown scooping leaves out of an eaves trough

Declutter Your Space

Why wait for spring-cleaning to declutter and get organized? Start by sorting drawers, closets and cupboards: toss out or donate old items to charity, and properly arrange seasonal gear.

“Put away summer items, like baseball bats and sandals,” says Baiyina Hughley, interior designer and founder of the 30-Day Makeover Challenge. “Freshen up your mud room or entryway with a new sturdy welcome mat and a metal tray for wet boots. Baskets, bins and hooks are essential for heavy jackets, hats and gloves.”

The holidays may seem a while away, but take this as an opportunity to start setting up your entertaining space.

“Getting rid of mismatched or chipped dinnerware, plastic containers or coolers from summer picnics will give you room to assess how prepared you are for holiday dinners,” says Hughley. “Take stock of serving platters and consider displaying or using fancy china you’ve been saving for that special occasion.”

Make Room for School

One way to manage the back-to-school blitz is by creating an orderly, purposeful study spot for kids.

“It’s easier to concentrate in a less visually stimulating space,” says Hughley. “Letting go of old toys and containing smaller objects into storage baskets and drawers will instantly calm down a busy space.”

Another easy tip? Hughley says repositioning a desk near a window or adding some useful accessories can reinvigorate a tired space and motivate kids during homework time.

Touch-Up Your Space

As the days shorten, Hughley has some simple hacks to brighten the household and enliven décor without spending a fortune:

Switch out summer bedding: “Heavier textiles, down comforters, bed blankets and duvets will instantly warm up your bedroom. A wool rug or sheepskin hide under your bed will also do the trick.”

Restyle your sofa: “Warmer colours help make your home feel cozy when it’s cold and dark outside. Adding a chunky throw or faux fur throw pillows to your sofa will set the fall tone.”

Lighten up: “With shorter days, the last thing you want is a gloomy home. Bring in more accent lighting with table and floor lamps that can be dimmed or on three-way switches for versatility in moods.”

Add drapery: “Floor-to-ceiling drapery panels make your room look taller, and add valuable insulation for cool fall nights. Solid panels in neutral colors are a sure bet. Heavier textiles, like cotton velvet, give a dressed up, festive look.”

Prep Your Garden

For tips on essential backyard tasks, follow Frank Ferragine’s advice; he’s a gardening expert, weatherman and host of Insight Vacations’ upcoming Blooms and Backroads of Europe tour:

Start planting: “With warm soil temperature, cool nights and great frequency of rain, autumn is the best time to plant shrubs, perennials and trees.”

Clean up: “Weed, remove spent annuals, remove and discard diseased stems or perennials and shrubs; and cut back stems of soft-stem perennials to the ground.”

Repair your lawn: “Early fall is the best time to top-dress [adding a thin layer of soil], over-seed and repair summer lawn damage.”

Protect your greenery: “Surround broadleaf evergreens with burlap by using four posts. Feeding lawns in fall will improve their health for winter and spring.”

Tend to soil: “Fall is the best time to amend soil. Top-dress gardens with a triple mix of manure, and reduce fertilizer in autumn.”

Clean Out Your Gutters

During the summer months, gunk has likely built up in your gutters and eavestroughs. If ignored, it can lead to water leaking into your home. In the fall, sweep away any leaves, acorns, twigs or anything else that could clog up your drainpipes, gutters and eavestroughs.

Weatherproof Inside and Outside

Is the furnace working? Did you fix that drafty window yet? Is the chimney clear? Give your home a thorough fall check-up, especially to ensure it’s properly insulated.

“Fall is the time bugs seek warm spaces to hibernate for winter, as well as rodents,” says Ferragine. “Cover up cracks and spaces where heat from your home can be lost, and bugs can get in.”

Dust heating vents, replace furnace filters, seal drafts and book a chimney and heating system inspection. And don’t forget the many other little but important tasks. Outside, cover up the barbecue, clean the grills and burners and safely store the propane tank. Shut down water valves connected to outside faucets, and cover or store patio furniture.  Inspect the roof, too: worn, loose or rotting shingles can leak during snowy or wet weather.

When that first chill hits, you’ll be happy to be ahead of the game.