This year seems to have gone in a flash. It doesn’t seem that long ago since we were giving our homes a good spring clean after winter! Here we are again, though - it’s getting dark earlier and the shops are already full of Halloween decorations and fireworks. Autumn is coming and we need to start getting ready to spend longer indoors.
While the daylight lasts, and while we still have a few days of dry weather, here are some cleaning, decorating and maintenance jobs that you might need to do to prepare for autumn. Given the unpredictability of British weather, start with the outside jobs first and then focus on the indoor ones last.
1. Maintenance jobs before autumn
Not all of these jobs need to be done every year, and whilst you can tackle many of them yourself (with trusty YouTube as your guide if needed), you might need or choose to involve a professional to save you time and effort.
Check that your boiler is working
- Turn on your heating, turn up your thermostat and go round the house to check that the radiators all warm up.
- Sort any problems now before you have to shiver in the cold waiting for the boiler repair company to turn up (they’ll be very busy in winter…).
- Organise a boiler/central heating service if it’s due so that any problems can be rectified before the cold weather kicks in.
Have your gas appliances serviced before you start using your gas fire again
- Also check that your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are properly fitted and working.
Insulate outdoor pipes to prevent freezing over winter
- Put lagging, or insulating material, around your outdoor tap and any visible pipes.
- If your loft isn’t insulated, make sure any pipes up there leading from the cold water tank are also properly lagged.
Dig out your draft excluders
- Keep the warmth in your home by using draft stoppers at each door, over your letterbox, and in your chimney above your gas fire (only when the gas fire is not in use!!).
Consider getting a dehumidifier
- When your house is closed up for winter and windows are routinely closed, condensation build up (from wet washing and just breathing!) can cause damp - a dehumidifier will keep things dry.
- Also check that the air bricks (bricks close to the ground that have several holes in them) are clear and not blocked.
Consider investing in home CCTV or security lighting
- Add security to your home over the darker months.
Clear your gutters after the leaves have fallen.
- Clogged gutters and drains can lead to damp.
Check your roof tiles
- Any cracked, slipped or missing tiles need to be replaced before the bad weather sets in.
Check your render and mortar
- If there are any cracks in the render on your house (the stuff that lines some outdoor walls, covering the bricks), now is the time to get it fixed so that frost doesn’t get in and create a bigger (more expensive) problem.
- Repoint any bits of brickwork that have gaps in the pointing to prevent damp seeping in.
Treat, stain or paint your wooden shed, fence and decking
- Keep it waterproof to last longer.
2. Garden jobs before autumn
There are lots of plant-specific jobs that you might need to do before autumn, such as pruning lavender or digging up dahlias. In general terms, though, the main ‘tidy-up’ jobs to do in your garden before autumn are:
Work on your lawn
- Clear leaves from your lawn and give it a last mow (add a spacer to your lawnmower blade so the grass is cut a little longer than you’d normally cut it in spring/summer).
Protect your tools
- Oil your lawnmower blades, and any other garden tools, making sure everything is clean and dry first, before storing them for winter.
Tidy your borders
- Remove dead leaves.
- Cut back perennials.
- Deadhead roses and perennials.
Plant for next year
- Plant bulbs that will flower next spring/summer.
- Plant any trees, perennials and shrubs now, while it’s moist but not too cold.
- Plant winter border plants for a bit of colour over the dark months.
Store your garden furniture and tools
- We’ve written a guide on how to store your garden furniture for winter.
- Similar advice applies to your garden tools and equipment - everything needs to be clean and dry before you store it for winter, and it needs to be protected from the elements to keep it in good working order.
- If you don’t have room in your shed or are worried about it being damaged by frost or stolen during the dark nights, you could consider renting a self storage room for a few weeks so that it’ll still be in good condition for next spring.
3. Cleaning and decor jobs before autumn
You’ll be spending a lot longer indoors than you have over recent months. Now is a good time to tackle all those little jobs around the house so you won’t be left stuck indoors staring at them all winter.
Now is also a good time to declutter. All your winter clothing, bedding and blankets will be coming out of wherever you’ve stored them, and your house might start to feel cluttered or a bit too cosy. Remember that Christmas is looming on the horizon and you’ll need to fit decorations and a tree in there somewhere …
Stash away anything you won’t need until next spring -
- lightweight bedding,
- summer clothes,
- garden furniture and equipment.
These can be kept in your loft or cellar if you have that space and are sure your belongings will stay dry and safe from pests. You could also use vacuum bags for anything made of fabric to shrink it to fit the space above your wardrobe or under your bed. If you don’t have room to spare, you could rent a small storage unit
(a 10 ft sq locker should be large enough, depending on how much you have to store).
If you have larger items to store, like garden furniture and equipment, you could rent a larger self storage unit to keep everything clean, dry and secure until next spring.
Opened or expired bottles of sunscreen and insect repellant need to be disposed of - recycle them where possible.
Touch up your decorating
Tackle those bits of decorating that need touching up to cover marks on the walls, or faded paint on your radiators and woodwork. Painting your woodwork is a laborious task but so worthwhile when it’s done!
Peeling wallpaper can be glued back into place or replaced.
Give everything a good clean
Wipe down kickboards and skirting boards, dust your shelves and window sills and tackle any mould or mildew in your bathroom before it gets a chance to grow.
Clean your windows to make the most of the available light. If you have curtains, consider getting them dry cleaned, and if you have wooden or plastic blinds then clean them with warm, soapy water.
You’re all set!
Once you’ve finished the jobs on your list, you’ll be all ready for the colder months. You can enjoy your lovely cosy home and your garden will be tidy and ready for when you can return to it in spring.