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Fall home prep checklist

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If you’re at all like me, then you wait with bated breath for the changing of the seasons — from summer to fall, that is. I’ll take changing leaves and pumpkin/squash over beach time any day. But going into fall isn’t all hot chocolate and apple picking. There’s plenty of preparation involved to make sure your home is in tip-top shape for the cooler weather.

So get your pens and paper ready — or fancy tablet — and get your fall prep checklist started.

INDOOR PREP

Air conditioner maintenance/storage
Step 1: Remove the A/C from the window. It will be heavy, so don’t drop it on your feet. And make sure you unplug it before doing so. Be careful not to spill any water that may be left over if you’ve used the A/C recently, warns Earth911.

Step 2: Clean the filter. If it’s reusable, vacuum it first and then place under running water and gently scrub with a mild soap. Or if you’re so inclined, Earth911 recommends treating your filter to an hour-long bath of equal parts vinegar and water. And don’t forget to wipe down the external surface with the same water/vinegar solution or a nontoxic cleaning product.

Step 3: Find a cool, dry storage space. Try floor space near the window if you’re tight on space. If you have a garage, Earth911 suggests placing your A/C on blocks. And make sure you keep the A/C upright. Apartment Therapy recommends storing it in its original box if you have it. If not, use a large garbage bag.

If you can’t or won’t store you A/C during the cold weather, it's a good idea to cover it to prolong its life and prevent drafts, according to Apartment Therapy.

Summer clothing storage
If you have loads of closet space and dressers in which to keep all your clothing all year-round, read no further. But if clothing space is limited (think Manhattan studio apartment), you may need to store you summer clothing. BrightNest also has you covered here. Some of its recommendations include:

  • Clean your storage space, which may include empty drawers, storage bins and fabric storage bags.
  • Make sure your summer clothes are clean before storing. BrightNest warns not to use starch on shirts, which will attract insects.
  • Keep moths away with a small breathable bag (such as a cotton bag) of dried lavender in your storage containers.
  • Your clothing should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated area.

 

OUTDOOR PREP
Think the summer is a busy time for outdoor maintenance? Preparing your garden and lawn for fall can be a busy undertaking. But HGTV has got you covered. Here are some of its tips.

The landscape
Remove debris, which can include unsightly foliage and dried stems. You can also fill out the landscape with some new plants. Try trees, shrubs and perennials, including mums, asters and pansies. A cool-season vegetable garden is also an option. Consider planting lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips and potatoes.

Container plants
Annuals: These technically last a year, but you can extend their lives by rotting the cuttings of annuals in water or a potting medium, such as vermiculite, perlite or soil-less potting mix.

Strip all but the top few leaves off the stem, keep the potting medium moist and keep plants out of direct sunlight. In a few weeks, the plants should develop a dense mass of roots. At this point, you can pot them and grow them as houseplants. (Note: This doesn't work with all annuals.)

Perennials: Transplant perennials from their containers directly into the garden. Trim their roots first, plant them in the ground and trim their top growth.

Herbs: You can either harvest and dry them or consider bring them indoors. But remember that herbs generally don't do too well inside unless they get a lot of natural or fluorescent light.

The shed
Clean your garden storage area, responsibly throw out old chemicals and make a list of what you'll need to buy before next spring. Take care your tools by rubbing metal surfaces with a light coating or oil, rubbing wooden tool handles with boiled linseed oil, and sharpening dull tools with a proper file.

Grill maintenance
No matter what type of grill you own — charcoal or gas — you will need to clean it one last time before it goes into hibernation. BrightNest has got your step-by-step instructions. Here’s a brief rundown:

If you’ve got a gas grill:

  • Check the hoses to make sure they don’t have holes.
  • Fire it up for 10 to 15 minutes to burn off any grease, without cooking anything.
  • Let the grill cool down until it is warm, then clean out the remaining grease with a stiff wire brush and cloth scouring pad.
  • Clean the burners and make sure they are not clogged with grease.

 

If you’ve got a charcoal grill:

  • Clean out the debris at the bottom of the grill.
  • Dump out the grease traps, which are usually an aluminum cup or aluminum tray underneath the firebox.
  • Once a year, give the entire grill a bath with warm, soapy water. For best results, take the grill apart — if it’s not too complicated — and wash the components individually.

 

REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN!
Fall prep should not just be about storage and cleaning. The cooler weather also brings with it rich autumn colors and Halloween decor. Love pumpkin carving? Or not? Go the no-carve route.

If you’re totally lost, just consult Martha’s Halloween decorating ideas.

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