Filling in bald spots in the lawn with seed and topsoil is recommended in fall preparation along with spreading dry lawn fertilizer and broadleaf weed killer. (Photo by Frank Caramanica.)

by Charlene Marcum

As the colors of fall blow away with the incoming winter wind, it is time to prepare our homes, lawn and vehicles for winter. A few preventative steps will yield a bounty of benefits and a big reduction in winter woes.
Winterizing Your House
• Clean out the gutters: falling leaves are beautiful but not when they clog up gutters, which serve to protect roof, walls, foundation and landscape;
• Drain and turn off outside hoses. This will prevent them from freezing up and bursting;
• Insulate walls and attic. This alone will save you on winter heating bills;
• Caulk or weather strip doors and windows: keep the warm air in and stop winter winds from blowing around frames;
• Repair leaks: check roof, attic and plumbing for leaks and repair now. An ice dam or condensation in the attic or exhaust vent could damage the home structure and bring costly repairs;
• Change heating system filter: with moving inside this will produce the cleanest air especially for those who suffer with allergies;
• Inspect chimneys: Look for signs of a bird nest and have soot removed especially in wood burning fireplaces to prevent fires;
• Have your heating system tuned up and checked: the last thing anyone wants is to have a failed system in the dead of winter;
• Lower the temperature on water heaters: preserve energy;
• Check thermostats: set them at a reasonable temperature to ensure consistency in maintaining the warmth of the home;
• Check batteries in fire protectors; and
• Run ceiling fans in reverse for maximizing heat distribution.
Winterize Your Lawn
• Plant new perennials
• Divide spring and summer plants;
• Set up compost bin for leaves and lawn debris;
• Aerate lawn to provide delivery of oxygen, water and fertilizer;
• Spread winter mulch after the first freeze;
• Fill in bald spots in the lawn with seeds and topsoil;
• Clean lawn mower and sharpen blade;
• Clean and store gardening tools;
• Spread dry lawn fertilizer;
• Spread broadleaf weed killer;
• Use burlap or landscaping material to wrap around trees and shrubs to protect bark from winter burn caused by wind, freezing temperatures and harsh sun;
• Water trees and shrubs throughout fall to provide water retention;
• Prepare the soil for the spring garden;
• Plant bulbs for spring flowers leaving four to six weeks before freeze
• Protect shrubs and flowers from animals with wire cages; and
• Save trimming and pruning until spring.
Winterize Your Vehicle
• Check engine coolant and antifreeze;
• Fill windshield wiper reservoir with winterized coolant;
• Check and replace wiper blades;
• Check heater fans, belts, blower and window defrosters;
• Keep gas tank at least half full during the winter;
• Check tire pressure and tread depth;
• Switch to winter grade oil; and
• Add a winter survival kit with these essentials: Road salt, sand or kitty litter, a shovel, a blanket, spare winter hat, gloves and socks, flashlight and extra batteries, snack foods, water, cell phone adapter for recharging in lighter, candles and matches, battery cables, and a window scraper and brush
An ounce of prevention in the fall will produce a pound of pleasure for winter piece of mind!