Bill Head

Take advantage of what remains of daylight savings time and the blessedly cooler weather this October by giving your yard a thorough fall clean up. You’ll have a better canvas for holiday decorating and give your yard a big head start to looking great next spring. Here are our top tips for giving your home some autumn curb appeal.

Rake. Leaves left on the grass can smother the turf and create dead patches. But leave some leaves in flower beds and gardens to insulate remaining plants from cold weather and provide nutrients as the leaves decompost.

Fertilize. Applying a fall fertilizer helps your lawn recover from summer heat stress and will give your lawn a much healthier start in the spring. A healthy lawn will be better able to withstand insects and next summer’s heat.

A top-down approach. Once the leaves have fallen, clean out your gutters. Check for any leaks or missing brackets and address the issue before winter weather sets in.

Protect your pretty pots: The topsy-turvy rain/freeze cycle in North Texas can turn microscopic fissures in your pots into big cracks. Clean them with equal parts water and vinegar before you move your pots to shelter.

Weed the beds. Weeding now will prevent a lot of extra work in the spring.

Topdressing. A very thin layer (less than 1/8 of an inch) of soil or sand can help your lawn by promoting decomposition of thick thatch build up. It’s not a good time to de-thatch or aerate your lawn – that’s best left for early spring – but if you notice a more than a half inch of thatch on your lawn, a light topdressing will help over the winter months. Also apply topdressing to areas that have bare or trampled spots. If they’re very bare, apply seed.

Take care of outdoor furniture. Rinse off all patio furniture. Rub a fresh coat of teak oil on untreated teak furniture. Check metal furniture for rust spots and sand and repaint where needed. Put away umbrellas and inspect cushions for damage. Lastly, cover items with tarps if furniture will remain outside.

Hire a chimney sweep. Prevent chimney fires caused by debris. Both wood burning and gas fireplaces should have an annual cleaning from a chimney sweep. A chimney sweep can also let you know if the chimney itself shows signs of deterioration. Have your dryer vents cleaned at the same time and save on energy costs as well.

Toss it. Be sure to pick up any fruits, vegetables, and nuts leftover from the growing season. Food left out can attract pests and rodents that you don’t necessarily want hanging around. If you have plants that are dead, dying or diseased, now is a good time to get rid of them, too. When you’re cutting back plants, look for signs of disease or damaging insects and destroy that foliage, too. If you’re removing the whole plant, make sure to get the roots as well. Cut off dead and broken limbs so strong winds won’t create problems for you later. You might also find it useful to trim away branches that are too close to the house. Don’t trim too much now, though. Wait until they’re coming back out of dormancy in the spring.

Plant your April flowers. Early flowering bulbs like tulips, crocus and daffodils like to overwinter in cooler soils. Now is a great time to plant them for the spring.

Take time for your tools. It’s a great time to take care of your yard tools, too. Brush away dirt and debris and then oil the blades to prevent rust. Sharpen cutting tools and oil them as well before storing them for the winter.

The MetroTex Association of REALTORS is comprised of more than 17,000 area professionals in real estate and related industries. For more information about buying, selling or renting a home, visit

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