Get a jump on fall!

Busy families don't have much time for home chores during the summer months. School's out, travel's in, the garden's taken on a life of its own, and it's easy to let mundane tasks slide. Here's a few late summer tips to keep in mind:

Take advantage of late summer bargains. Late summer is a slow time for home maintenance and cleaning services. Look for summer discounts from carpet cleaners, gutter installers, and window washing firms. Perform inspections and take care of any maintenance issues you see. Now is the time to repair or replace any cracked windows, perform garage door maintenance, and repair minor brick and mortar cracks. Call a professional if necessary, expecially concerning foundations.  Check weather stripping and caulking.  Think you need more attic insulation? Add it now.

Think ahead to fall's cold weather. Schedule furnace maintenance now and beat the October rush. You'll be snug and warm that first cold night--and your HVAC specialist will thank you!

Pest patrol: inspect yard and garden for carpenter ants or other pests. Call an exterminator if you see signs of infestation.

Keep tabs on decks, siding and trim. Will you need to perform touch-up work before winter? Order paint and be ready for the first cooler days of early autumn.

Control garbage can odor with a can clean-out. Rinse garbage cans with a hose, dump the water, then spray with disinfectant. Let the cans sit for 10 minutes, then rinse again. Turn upside down to dry.

Inspect gutters, and clean out any leafy debris. Summer thunderstorms won't faze you if your gutters are in good working order.

Make a safety inspection of children's outdoor play equipment. Tighten any bolts that have come loose and cover with plastic protectors.

Improve your yard. While spring is the traditional planting season, late summer and early fall is an excellent time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, and spring-flowering bulbs.  Late summer and early fall is also the best time to seed lawns.

Home gardeners can begin seeding lawns in mid-August.  Seeding should be completed by mid-September.  Late summer and early fall seeding has several advantages over spring seeding.  The cool-season grasses germinate quickly in the warm soil of late summer.  The warm days and cool nights of early fall promote rapid turf grass growth.  The growing grass also has less competition from weed seeds as few weed seeds germinate in the fall.

A new lawn can also be established by sodding.  The best times to sod are spring and ate summer/early fall.

Balled and burlapped and container-grown trees and shrubs can also be planted in late summer and fall.  Evergreens should be planted from mid-August through September.  Planting during this period allows the evergreens to become established before the onset of winter.  Evergreens planted in the late fall are susceptible to desiccation injury and death.  Deciduous trees and shrubs (those that drop their leaves in the fall) can be planted from August through early November.

Trees and shrubs planted in late summer and fall should be watered every 7-10 days during dry weather. Continue watering until ground freezes.

Late summer and early fall is an excellent time to plant many perennials.  It is also a good time to move or divide perennials, such as peony, daylily, garden phlox and Oriental poppy.

Perennials planted in late summer and early fall should be mulched with 2 to 4 inches of straw in late fall.  Mulching helps prevent repeated freezing and thawing of the soil that can damage recently planted perennials.

Adapted from organizedhome.com and torontohomesnow