House & Home

Top Fall Cleanup and Renewal Projects for East End Homes

If you don't cleanup in the fall, winter is brutal.

Did your East End home take a bit of a beating this past summer? That’s okay; that probably means you enjoyed it! Check out these quick tips to get your Hamptons home ready for the fall.

Yard
Cool autumn temperatures limit aboveground growth, meaning that the roots gain priority. The best action you can take to care for your lawn is to aerate the soil. This allows moisture to reach the roots, strengthening them and improving the overall health of your lawn. A high phosphorus fertilizer will also encourage root growth.

It might be tempting to retire the lawnmower, but keeping the grass short is important for maintaining its health through the winter. And yes, you should continue to water your lawn, as well. For the final cuttings of the year, you’ll want mower blades at their lowest setting. This will allow the most sunlight to hit the blades of grass, which is doing its best to absorb as much energy as possible before the Big Chill.

What about the fall leaves? The debate rages between rakers and non-rakers. Some keep their lawns pristine despite the never-ending supply of falling leaves, tossing bags to the curb every chance they get. Others embrace the season’s disheveled nature, letting the leaves lie for as long as possible. The disadvantage of the latter method is potentially endangering your lawn with first snowfall, when compacted leaves will damage the turf. But there are advantages to both approaches.

Pools
These hubs of summer fun can be a real pain to maintain. Many Hamptonites employ a pool maintenance service for just this reason. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself-er, begin winterizing your pool by cleaning the equipment and cover. The name of the game is destroying as much bacteria as you can before shutting everything down. Adding phosphate remover, shocking and chlorinating, and balancing the pH levels of the water are great ways to do this. Pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment should be drained and lubricated as required. It’s also advised to lower the water level of the pool before the temperature drops: water expands when it freezes, and can potentially damage equipment. As always, remove leaves, and be sure water and filters are free of debris before covering with a tight-fitting cover!

Sheds & Garages
Clean them out. Deep down, you know you want to.

Make an appointment with your whole family by blocking out some time and go for it. Call a charity to schedule a pick-up right at the time you plan to be done sorting stuff out as a group. Separate out what to keep, what to donate to charity and what to discard—and do it all that same day.

You’ll breathe easierwhen there’s room for items intended for these outbuildings. Remember parking your car in the garage? It’s just a weekend afternoon and a phone
call away.

Working farmer in the garden. Organic fertilizer for manuring soil, preparing field for planting in spring, bio farming or autumn gardening concept
Photo: iStock

Garden
Autumn garden grooming is a matter of personal preference. Some people keep their flowerbeds clean, the soil exposed, and the plants trimmed back for winter. Manicured gardens are beautiful, but they require extra attention. If you decide to keep your gardens spotless, ask your landscaper what nutrient options would best benefit your plants. No garden, no matter how well trimmed, can thrive if your plants
are starving.

Fall is the time for local root vegetables. If you’re a home gardener, you can keep carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, turnips and potatoes in the ground through the early winter. If you expect snow, mark the rows so you can find them and use mulch to prevent the ground from
freezing completely.

Aboveground plants need a good fall pruning. The fewer branches they have, the less energy they’ll expend. Gardening books provide detailed instructions for how to cut back a variety of plants, such as raspberries. For the flowerbeds, it’s mulch and more mulch. Cover those babies with three inches or more of the stuff. This will keep them nice and cozy throughout the cold months. Potted plants are either brought inside, or dumped out (if they’re annuals), in which case clean the pots and store them upside down.

Gardening expert Jeanelle Myers recommends planting in preparation for spring. “I love to plant bulbs in fall creating surprises for spring. Nothing is more rewarding and more needed in spring,” she says. Adds Myers, “Cleaning your garden in spring instead of fall leaves seeds for birds, coverage for insects and reminds me that there is a garden in this area waiting to come alive again next year.”

For rust-free garden tools, rub them with vegetable oil.

Grills
Some hard-core grillers grill all winter, but for the rest of you, it’s time to clean and store your beloved grill for the winter. Grills are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to winterizing, though gas grills are a bit more involved than charcoal, so sit back and read your owner’s manual. One method of cleaning a gas grill is to use a bottlebrush to clean the interior of the hollow burner tubes. Toothpicks are great for getting at more difficult spots. If you feel your grill requires more cleaning, wait for the grill to cool, clean it with soapy water, and rinse. Use hot soapy water to remove buildup on the outside, then cover. Store your grill inside, if you can—but never the propane tank. The propane tank should always remain outside in a well-ventilated area. For charcoal grills, empty the ashes, clean off the grate and coat with vegetable oil, throw on a cover and you’re set!

living room with black marble fireplace 3D design and rendering for your project 3D rendering
Photo: iStock

Indoor Fireplaces
If you’ve been using your fireplace and, in fact, even if you haven’t been using it—your chimney needs to be cleaned out. Unused chimneys can attract critters including birds, squirrels and raccoons. Regular use can lead to sooty build-up. We could offer suggestions on safety measures you can take and best practices, but here’s the best tip: hire a pro. Additionally, Linnea Estes of ACE Chimney Experts says that inspecting and cleaning oil and gas heating systems are of utmost importance. “These are often overlooked and neglected, because people don’t know they exist or assume their oil or gas guy/company is doing it,” Estes says. “No oil and gas company will sweep the chimney attached to the oil or gas burner, because the burner is in the basement, not the roof. So there’s no reason for them to go on the roof, nor do they have the equipment or knowledge to do it.”

Decks, Patios & Patio Furniture
Patio furniture should be cleaned before it is stored away in the late fall. If it can’t be stored inside, place it beneath an overhang or cover with tarps. This will substantially extend the life of your patio furniture, especially those pieces that are made of wood.

If you are the proud owner of a wood deck, then you know that moisture is the enemy. And snow is moisture. Ergo, you don’t want snow covering your unprotected deck. Have your (freshly cleaned) deck coated with a waterproof sealant.

All decks and patios should be swept clean of debris. Leaves, acorns, pine needles and other detritus can get stuck between deck boards and cause rot, so be vigilant about clearing them off. Wood decks should be washed down with deck soap. Concrete patios should be swept and washed, and then sealed to avoid winter cracks. Brick patios should have any heavy objects removed, and joint sand replenished between bricks. Stone patios should be weeded and pressure-washed. If you’re concerned about the color fading from your stones, consider staining or sealing them. Vinyl decks are easy: just use a hose to spray them down. Clean patio chair and lounge cushions with soap and water and put covers over all outdoor furniture.

If these projects seem too daunting, why not let Dan’s Best of the Best landscapers handle them instead?

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