The hardy mums are making an appearance and a light jacket has become necessary for the crisp morning temperatures.  Both are sure signs that fall is upon us.  Although some of us hate to see the summer come to an end, there is no avoiding the onset of fall.  The change of seasons generates an inventory of chores that must be completed prior to the commencement of winter.  Routine fall maintenance must be performed in order to ensure a healthy yard come springtime.  In addition, your house must be protected from the harsh elements that winter brings.

Let’s begin on the outside and work our way in.  Fall is the best time of the year to give attention to your lawns and landscaping.  Fertilization of your lawns will provide necessary nutrients for the winter months to come.  In the spring your lawn will grow lush and green. And, don’t be mournful of the loss of color in your landscaping.  There are a variety of plants that can be incorporated to provide brilliant color through late November.  These plants include:  autumn crocus; strawflower; variations of aster; coleus; and dianthus.  Fountain grasses, burning and blueberry bushes will also add bursts of color.  All are easy to care for and will deliver great curb appeal.  Be sure to weed your gardens well in the fall, to minimize new growth in the spring. 

It is imperative in fall to trim your trees back.  Any branches hanging low, too close to the house, or near electrical wires can be weighed down by winter snow or ice wreaking havoc once broken.  Rake away all tree debris, leaves, and other forms of rubbish from the foundation of your house.  Make sure there are no entry points for animals seeking warmth.  If you have a crawl space, close the ventilation hatches keeping the cold air from entering underneath your house. 

Next we need to make sure that all of our outdoor tools are in good working condition and ready for action.  Rakes, snow shovels, and snow blowers should be inspected, cleaned, and all kept in one easy access location.

Gutter maintenance is also critical.  Clean your gutters and downspouts thoroughly and check for proper anchoring to the house.  Melting snow and freezing rain must have an easy escape route from the roof, into the gutter, down the downspouts and away from the foundation of your house.  You do not want the formation of ice dams to occur in your gutters.  The dams prevent water flow, and the water has nowhere to go but behind the gutter, seeping into your walls and ceilings. 

Moving from the outside in, it is paramount to have your furnace inspected and cleaned.  Having this service performed now, will be cheaper than waiting until the winter season hits.  Furnace upkeep is also vital for safety precautions.  Placing a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace is also a good idea.

Here are some other important chores to execute inside:

  • Locate your water main so in the event of an emergency it can be shut off
  • Insulate any exposed pipes (perhaps in the basement)
  • Ensure that there is adequate insulation in your attic
  • Find your air conditioner shut-off valve and turn it to the off position
  • Drain the air conditioning pipes to prevent freezing
  • Install weather stripping around all windows and doors in prevention of cold air drafts
  • Replace screen doors and windows with storm doors and windows

Finally, we all love snuggling up in front of the fireplace on cold winter nights.  Fall is the ideal time to guarantee the safety of our chimney.  Make sure the chimney cap on the outside is secure, and have a certified chimney company come out and inspect for soot and creosote buildup.  The chimney professional can also ascertain that your chimney damper is opening and closing properly.

I know what all of you readers are thinking right now.  “I don’t need to attend to these projects today.  It still feels like summer.”   However, all too often, summer turns to fall, and then very quickly to winter, and we don’t know where the time has gone.  Do not find yourself outside braving the winter elements to enact on what can be accomplished during the beautiful fall season.  Preventative maintenance is necessary in safeguarding your lawn, landscaping, and house from the harsh winter conditions.  It is better to be prepared today than to pay the consequences tomorrow.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty

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Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings.

Masha is also a certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price points. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting