Wrapping up summerOct 01, 2019 10:17AM ● By Jan Weeks
Get started on pre-winter chores
By now you may be asking yourself, “Where the heck did summer go?”
Or, after the weird weather we’ve had, you may be saying, “Thank God it’s over!”
Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it’s time to start winding down from summer fun and frolic. Though autumn officially started on September 23, summer in western Colorado tends to linger well into October. We may have a month or more of good weather left, but it’s never too early to get started on pre-winter chores.
Winterize your home.
Depending on your location and the weather, it may be time to winterize your swamp cooler. Drain the pan, shut off and disconnect the water, drag out the canvas cover and get that puppy ready for the first freeze. There’s nothing worse than having the tubing split inside the house and start leaking next spring when you gear up for heat.
It’s also a good time to check furnace filters, have the ductwork cleaned and make sure your carbon monoxide alarm is working. Is the weather stripping around doors and windows in good shape? How about inserting some foam outlet insulation into your receptacles? They really cut down on drafts. Consider insulated drapes to keep warm air from migrating to the outside. And while you’re at it, it’s never too soon to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Check your roof.
Outside, look for missing or damaged shingles on the roof. If your garage roof is prone to ice dams, make sure the insulation reaches to the eaves. Escaping warm air hitting the underside of the shingles causes the bottom layer of snow to melt, making a mini glacier. While you’re on the ladder, clean out the gutters. You can buy plastic rolls of gutter guard to keep most leaves and other debris from filling them up. If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, make sure last year’s soot accumulation is cleaned out before building the first cozy blaze.
Tend the garden.
Take a stroll through the garden and pull weeds so that they don’t reseed when they dry out. Are the tomatoes getting weary? Have new cucumbers dwindled to gerkin size? It’s time to pull them. Green tomatoes can be fried (yum!) or put in a paper bag to ripen.
Plant spring bulbs now, too. They need to winter in the ground to bloom next April. When the weather cools and the ditches go dry next month, blow out the sprinkler system, store the hoses, and resign yourself to spot watering with the house hose.
Hummingbirds won’t migrate as long as there’s an ample supply of sugar water in the feeder, so take it down by the end of the month.
Before the snow hits.
October is also the time to fertilize the lawn. Check with a nursery for what and how much to use. Does your shed or garage have plenty of room to store the lawn furniture and flowerpots this fall? If not, it’s time to organize. Is your leaf rake in good shape? Do you have plenty of leaf bags? Is your snow shovel handy? Don’t make yourself trek through a foot of the white stuff and rummage through disorganized piles of tools to find it. Stock up on ice melter before the rush. (You can use a fertilizer spreader to de-ice large areas. Just don’t let the salt get on lawns or shrubs.)
Make your home cozy.
It’s also time to get the blankets out of storage and make sure they’re fresh for the cooler weather ahead. Maybe you’re a fan of Martha Stewart and change your home’s décor seasonally. If so, get out the autumn-themed throw pillows and other fall decorations. If canning and freezing food for the winter make you feel like you’re burrowing in for the long haul, head to your favorite farmers’ market, or your own garden plot, and sterilize the jars. Defrost and organize the freezer.
Now that your house and yard are in order, it’s time to relax and enjoy the last bit of summer. Days may be shorter but evenings still stretch out, mild and cool, inviting you to sit out as the sun sinks and enjoy a glass of iced tea or wine, perhaps build a fire in the fire pit and enjoy the winding down of the year.