A single golden leaf floated down across my garden and right into my face this morning. As much as I am trying to, there is no denying the fact that Autumn is upon us. After a glorious Summer I can’t complain, so it is time to get the blankets out and get your house ready for Winter.
I must admit, it amazes me now that some people make no changes to make sure their house and garden are prepared. Following the storms at the start of the year, my huge fence blew down and my garden looked, come Spring, terrible. I vowed that this Winter I would be smart and help myself.
Here are some of the tips I have learned along the way.
Prepare the Outside
Those of you who feel lucky enough to have a garden in the Summer might not love it so much in the Winter. If you take a few steps to prepare it for the colder months, you will thank yourself come March.
The last cut of the year is always a tricky one to time correctly. I usually cut it every two weeks in September and as we move into October, grab the first dry day I can, wrap up warm and cut it as short as it will go. Make sure you do a good job of the borders too and get stuck into that all important weeding. The dead plants need cut back or removed and you should be left with something that looks neat for the rest of the year.
Outdoor furniture and ornaments need safely secured away in a shed or outdoor storage area. Of course, you need to make sure that is ready for Winter too; it can be locked, its structure is sound and the roof felted.
If your garden is in need of some colour, then now is the time to plant some tulips – it is always one of the happiest sights to see the little bulbs pushing Winter away again.
Don’t forget your little bird friends. Place a birdfeeder or two in the garden when their food sources start to dwindle. It is a lovely wee sight to see them pottering about the garden when their is no washing out for them to poo on.
As I discovered this year, any fence that is loose or wobbly WILL come down if the weather gets too bad. It is best to replace or fix them now. My builder placed metal legs inside concrete but too many fences simply have the wood cemented into the ground. Eventually it rots and you are left in a similar predicament to me. See below. Not fun.
Finally, I try to keep on top of weeds throughout winter but now is the time they really start to irritate me – whilst its still warm and wet. My Mother-in-law swears by vinegar in place of usual weedkiller. It is kinder, safer and does the job quicker.
The garden isn’t the only thing you need to think about when the colder months arrive. You need to get your house ready for Winter. Summer and the start of Autumn can see drains getting clogged. Typically I am able to leave it every two years before I have someone clean them out but it’s best to do it before Winter arrives. The last thing you want is a burst pipe. Usually it costs about £30 to have them cleaned and it’s well worth the price.
On that note, you want to make sure your pipes are behaving themselves. If any need repaired or painted, now is the time.
Check for any loose tiles or TV aerials that might need a bit of love before it gets too cold. Any trees that overlap the house will need to be cut back to prevent any damage from the horrendous winds we seem to get nowadays.
You don’t just need to get your house ready for Winter. Don’t forget to take care of your car. Professionals recommend Winter tyres, but I have neither the money nor inclination to go changing them. If you do travel regularly, best to be thinking about swapping them over however.
It would be wise, however, to make sure you have an emergency box packed. Place a box with a rug, torch, juice, snacks, deicer, boots, screen wash and, ideally, shovel in the boot. Yes it takes up room but is essential should you get stuck. Also make sure you have a phone charger in the car. It can prove a godsend.
Although I really don’t want to, it is important to regularly wash your car throughout the colder months. Grit and salt can damage the paintwork and there is nothing worse than driving about with a filthy windscreen. It is also possible to get wax that has winter protection in it.
Get those tyres pressure checked! Make sure they are safe, as the inside air in them will shrink in cold weather.
Some of my neighbours place sheets over their windscreen to not only make deicing easier, but to protect it. If your car will be out for long periods of time, I would probably advise this, but our car is close enough to our house to be protected from ice on the screen.
Prepare The Inside
Brr – back inside to the warmth. Let’s get that house ready for Winter.
Make sure your internal pipes (particularly around the boiler or attic) are insulated. It will help stop them from freezing which you really don’t want in low temperatures.
Invest in Hive. It is an amazing little product from British Gas that allows you to set your heating to a minimum temperature and can be controlled from your phone. If it is a particularly cold day, you can turn it up at work and the house will be toasty warm for when you arrive home. On that note, it also can control your lighting and kettle. It might sound pretentious but the joy of coming home to hot water and lights is priceless. Especially for someone who might live on their own.
As temperatures drop, your body craves a different type of food. I swear by my slow cooker, so will make a point of dusting it off and popping it out on the counter so it is at hand and ready to use. Make sure you do a proper shop and stock up on meat that can be frozen and used in stews and soups etc… Get your favourite recipes at hand! It means no emergency trip to the shops in the snow and your house will smell divine.
Clear out your fridge, freezer and cupboards of anything you simply won’t use in Winter. Salad dressings and ice lollies galore? Eat them or bin them. It will allow room for pulses, root vegetables and strudels.
Another easy little breakfast trick is to create your overnight oats. Whilst there are many recipes out there, my favourite includes:
- Rolled oats
- Soya milk
- Half a chopped banana
- Chai seeds
Mix it all together in Tupperware and pop in the fridge overnight for a delicious and healthy breakfast.
My favourite bit – winter bedding! (Phil does not share my enthusiasm) There is nothing nicer than a cosy bed. Get out your rugs and throws, wash them and get ready to snuggle on down. I always make sure we have at least two rugs on the bed, and the winter duvet is well and truly out. On top of that, I always have a hot water bottle to hand. It does make getting up in the morning a little harder.
There is a good chance your face and body will be exposed to central heating and cold air. All that nastiness results in super dry skin. You should start a proper winter routine, making sure you exfoliate and moisturise regularly. The best cream I have found is the Cien range from Lidl. The hand and body cream is so thick and smells amazing. I also make sure I always have a tub of vaseline with me for my lips or any cracked skin.
There is nothing nicer than sitting at work with a flask of home made tea. I have started bringing a mug for the morning and then a flask that stays hot until about 4pm. It tastes much better than anything made at work. A hot cup of water with lemon is lovely too for keeping you warm.
Make sure you stay wrapped up warm. Sitting for long periods can make you chilly, so take a thick cardigan to work and it will keep you cosy. I also find winter lighting really rough when you spend time looking at a computer. If your work don’t mind, install a small desk lamp. It helps massively with eye strain.
Pack a small tub of multivitamins and remind yourself to take them each morning. I really need Vitamin C and D, particularly as it gets dark – by keeping them on my desk it reminds me to take them.
So there we are – one or two tips on how to get yourself and your house ready for Winter.
See you when its warm, yeh? *snuggles on down*
Fancy some food and drink?