Every fall I know that I will have to rake up those leaves and do a bit of fall cleanup in the gardens, but for some reason, something always gets forgotten, especially once we get that first unexpected snowfall.

It will look clean and white, and you soon forget about those things you meant to put away but didn’t until the following spring when they show under the receding snow.

Then you look at the poor item and go “that is what I forgot to do”.  An Ontario winter can be tough on those cute little garden ornaments you put out in anticipation of a gorgeous flowering summer garden.

But getting them out of the shrubs that grew around them and the dirt that got attached to them can easily be forgotten.  I have left cute little ceramic style ornaments that I got from Wal-mart outside over the winter only to find an exploded mess of white goo and powder once the freeze and thaw of spring subsided.

So, this year I decided it was time to come up with a basic fall cleanup check list.

This way I am not standing in the middle of the leaves wondering what else I needed to get put away.  We always forget about the chairs because we like to use them right until the last minute, so this year we decided to get chairs that did not need pads.  That alone reduced my checklist!

You can add or take away from this list, but this is what now works best at my house.  By following my own list, I don’t have to keep replacing things the next year simply because they didn’t get put away in the shed and rusted or exploded!

Garden Ornaments

I love these little guys.  You can get them in the dollar store, or Walmart or the large garden centers.  These are lightweight and hollow and many times have solar lights in them too and make a garden look cute and whimsical on the cheap.

Fall CleanupCredit: morguefile.com

So, if you live where the winter gets very cold and harsh (like Ontario) then it is best to get these out of the elements come the fall.  I wait until the flowers are all gone and maybe we have had that first frost.  This way I can actually find them, as quite often they started out in front of a shrub or flowers, but by the end of summer they may have become one with it.

So, try and remember where you placed them all.  Find yourself a large plastic tub, and try to rub off as much of the dirt off of them you can.  Then place them in your tub carefully.

I found this tub could still go in the shed and be fine, but I prefer to bring them right into the basement.

Garden Tools

Start collecting them from around the house.  If you are super organized and always keep them in the shed after use, then you are already half way there, but with me, I tend to lean a shovel against the wall where I am working and it stays there.

I go around and collect all the little hand tools as well and then clean them off and place them neatly in the shed.  I find a bucket to hold all the little hand tools (the dollar store sells lots of cheap containers).  This is a big one for me as I have come across many a rusted hand tool in the edge of the garden come spring.

Fall CleanupCredit: morguefile.com

Garden Hose

Once you have done any tree fertilizing or watering or whatever you may need the outside hose for, it is time to deal with it.  I have sometimes forgotten and although we turned the water off to the outside, the hose was on the reel still full of water, which means you will end up replacing your hose come spring for all the leaks from freezing and thawing especially around the joints.

Fall cleanupCredit: morguefile.com

I had purchased a good quality garden hose last year, so this year I was on it, but I have to admit because the outside tap and hose reel are on the other side of the house I almost forgot.  You know that saying “Out of sight out of mind?”  That tends to happen with me.

Also collect any attachments you use on your hose such as good wands for giving your flowers that rain style watering and spray handles and adapters and put them in the bucket with your garden hand tools so you are not searching high and low come the spring.

My lawnmower found one adapter in the springtime, and that was not a good scene.

Turn the outside tap off on the inside of your house and then turn the one outside one to drain that little bit of pipe going into the house and the spigot, or you could run into bursting pipe in your wall.  This is very important.

You also need to drain the hose, so attach your sprayer and after turning all the water off inside let the hose drain, now we tend to leave our hose spread out in a line on the grass slightly downhill with adapters off to get rid of residual water.  Then put away in the shed for the winter.

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Outdoor Umbrella

Take a soft brush or broom and make sure to dust off the outside of the umbrella for dirt and leaves, and then open it and get rid of any bugs and webs on the inside then roll it back down and hide in the shed or basement for the winter.  You will get many more seasons out of this umbrella if you take it in for the winter.

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Chair Cushions

Obviously you want them to come in the house but make sure they are good and dry and look out for mice.  You may be better off investing in a sealed outdoor container that will hold all the cushions for the winter.  They will last longer this way.

So, save yourself some money and try to tackle these steps as you can in the fall season, this way you do not have to replace everything in the spring.  Get on your computer now and make a list, and put in a plastic sleeve and reuse each year.  It is so easy to forget the things you do not see.

Now you can rake the leaves!