The lush green lawns and bright blossoms of summer inevitably fade as autumn approaches, but as the weather cools, your front yard, driveway, and other exterior areas needn’t look as though they’re ready to hibernate. Read on to learn how to make your home look every bit as fresh and attractive during fall as it does at other times of year. A combination of maintenance and seasonal updating will boost curb appeal and set the bar high for the rest of the neighborhood.
Trim and Prune
Bushes, trees, and shrubs can all begin to look a bit gangly in the fall as they drop their foliage. Pruning now will give your yard a well-tended look and also ensure a healthy start to the next growing season: Removing dead blooms and foliage could otherwise serve as rodent nesting, or could decompose and increase the risk of plant disease. For bushes and shrubs, remove dead branches at the base of the plants and trim back unruly stems using a sharp pair of pruning shears. Fall is also the time to have broken branches removed from trees because without the leaves it’s easier to see the tree’s structure. If trees are large, call a professional tree trimmer rather than attempting the potentially dangerous task yourself.
Pressure Wash Sidewalks and Driveway
Fallen leaves that decompose, rust from an errant paint can, and even black marks from bike tires can ruin the look of concrete surfaces and make your property look shoddy. A good power washing, fortunately, will clean and refresh sidewalks and driveways. You can rent one from a construction- or tool-rental store for around $40 per day, or purchase one for under $150 to have on hand for future cleaning chores.
Fall is traditionally a time of home and harvest so don’t miss the chance to dress up your porch with a pumpkin or two or create a cheerful display of gourds in a basket to welcome visitors. Hang a wreath made from colorful leaves on your entry door, and replace that old welcome mat with a new one in warm autumn tones. Decorations that celebrate the season will make your home seem warm and inviting but don’t go overboard—a little goes a long way with porch displays.
Bag Those Leaves
Shuffling through newly fallen leaves is fun, but once trees are bare, rake them up and bag them. Leaves begin to biodegrade quickly, especially if rain packs them down, and leaving them in place will make your yard look unkempt. Plus, a thick layer of leaves can smother the grass, reducing air circulation and blocking sunlight, which can lead to lawn diseases. Dry leaves can often be taken to a local recycling center where they’re turned into compost, a natural fertilizer that can be used to enhance soil nutrients in vegetable gardens and flower beds.
Spruce Up the Exterior
Passersby get an unobstructed view of your house when leaves fall from trees and shrubs that may have blocked their view in summer. So now’s the time to get your home’s exterior clean and tidy. Use the jet nozzle on your hose to wash dirt from the siding and foundation. If you notice peeling paint, consider painting the house (including the shutters and trim). Nothing revives a home’s appearance more quickly than a fresh coat of paint.
Clean Out Flower Beds
Wilted annuals and unruly weeds in flower beds can make the whole yard look neglected and shabby. When the flowers fade on annuals, remove and discard the plants and pull any weeds that grew over summer. Leaving spent plants and weeds over winter can result in seeds dropping and then sprouting in the spring, creating a bigger chore than if you just pulled weeds now. A leaf blower will come in handy for blowing away dried leaves that settle in the corners of flowerbeds and rock gardens.
Add New Mulch
Adding a new layer of natural mulch around the bases of trees and bushes will not only help protect and insulate their roots from the coming cold, it will also give the landscape a manicured look. By the time fall arrives, mulch that was applied in the spring has faded and is probably beginning to decompose. Applying a fresh layer of mulch, such as Earthgro by Scotts, brings a sharp, clean look back to the yard.
Freshen Light Fixtures
By summer’s end, the glass shades on porch lights and garage lights are often dulled by dirt and grime. The fixtures themselves may be full of dead insects that were lured to the lights at night. To tidy things up, remove the glass shades, wipe down the metal or plastic parts of the fixtures with an all-purpose cleaner and a soft rag. Get the glass gleaming again with glass cleaner and then replace the shades.
Perk Up the Porch
Start with a good sweeping to get the summer’s worth of debris off your front porch. Repair or replace worn or loose railings and steps, which will only become more of a hazard coated with snow or ice when winter sets in. Perhaps treat the chairs or swing on your porch to a new coat of paint. Also take a good look at your entry door; if it’s drab and drafty, fall is a good time to replace it.
Pump Up the Flower Power
In autumn, many flowers have completed their bloom cycle, leaving yards looking dry and drab, but other flower species are just waiting in the wings to put on a fantastic fall finale. This is the time to add a pop of color to flowerbeds or porch pots with cool-season bloomers. Mums are always a favorite, available now in a rainbow of shades from bright yellow to deep burgundy. Other bright fall bloomers include asters, flowering kale, celosia, goldenrod, and sumac.
Light the Night
As the days shorten, consider adding landscape lighting to illuminate walkways, accent plantings or statues, and boost your home’s after-dusk appeal. Not only does extra lighting make your house stand out against a dark backdrop, it adds a measure of security. Solar lights or low-wattage (12-volt) landscape lights that are connected to a light sensor that turns them on automatically are both good choices.
Update your home's exterior decor for the cozy season.
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