Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fall Cleanup Can Be Easier Than You Think

Fall is finally here. The days spent lounging on the patio and grilling up burgers on the barbecue are distant memories. Fall, like spring, is a bit of a transitional season. A big part of this transition is readying the outdoor space- the patio, the yard, the shed, the garage, the garden- for the long winter months to come. Raking leaves, pulling up plants and organizing outdoor storage are among the most daunting tasks on the yearly calendar, but with the right plan and the right execution, like fall, they’ll be over and done with before you know it.

Leaves, leaves, leaves. There’s nothing more characteristic of fall than a humongous pile of leaves of all sizes, shapes, and colour, and there’s nothing that poses a unique challenge to the task of pre-Winter maintenance either. Leaves are constantly falling, constantly blowing, and consistently refuse to co-operate when raked, bagged, or blown. With that in mind, two solutions that have proven effective in dealing with this perpetual problem are “Tarping” and “mulching”.

If you don’t want to have to deal with bagging and disposing of piles and piles of leaves, you can take the easy way out and just take your mower to them! Mulching leaves and spreading them over the lawn and garden, especially near the very end of the season, can provide much-needed nourishment and some protection from the elements for the coming winter months.

If you don’t have a mower that reliably functions as a mulcher or if you simply can’t bear to sprinkle mulched sticks and leaves all over your prize garden, there’s another solution to make transport and storage much easier- tarps. Rather than raking leaves across the yard one stroke at a time or picking them up out of a pile one handful at a time, rake your leaves into a pile on top of the tarp. Then just pick up the tarp and move it wherever you want- it’s much easier and much more satisfying than regular raking. And it doesn’t leave a trail of half-shredded leaves trailing towards your compost bin.

Speaking of compost bins, they are more important during fall months than any other time of year. A final pre-winter cleaning of the yard requires more than just mulching or disposing of leaves. There’s a whole garden to be taken care of too. Uproot the annuals and properly dispose of them and trim down perennials to 6 inches or less in preparation for winter, and all the excess waste this process generates has to go somewhere. Composting is both environmentally responsible and convenient. You can purchase compost bins at a very reasonable cost and maintain them with very little work, yielding highly efficient fertilizer for re-use in your garden come springtime.

Now that the yard is taken care of, it’s time to move on to the external interior- sheds, garages, and other storage spaces. With tools, gadgets and toys taken out of their regular storage space for summer usage, the storage space will likely have accumulated some extra stuff. Whether it’s actual junk, genuinely important items simply stored in the wrong place, or some combination thereof, it’s extremely rare to find a winter storage space that’s well-maintained and perfectly serviceable at the end of the summer. That’s the first step, de-cluttering that storage space so it can be used again over the winter months. Once that’s taken care of, the actual stuff that’s been populating the yard, hanging out on the patio and in constant use over the summer needs to be put back where it belongs. This process can be a long, drawn out, and tedious, so try and get it out of the way as early as possible. There are few things more miserable than hauling tools around in early December at 10-below because you didn’t make time to get to it sooner, so don’t put yourself in that position.

And there you have it, folks, it’s quite simple when you break it down- manage your leaves and other yard waste, thoroughly (and carefully) gut your garden, and dispose of all the resulting waste as best you can, and return your various summer appliances back to winter storage. It may sound like a lot, but with a methodical approach, proper planning and good execution, fall cleaning doesn’t have to be so unpleasant after all.

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