As the nights start to draw in and the chunky knit jumpers come out of storage, it’s time to think about how to best prepare your home and garden for winter. With the arrival of colder weather, we’ll all be spending more of our time snuggled indoors, so make sure your space is as cosy and secure as possible – then, all you’ll have to worry about is what to watch next on Netflix.
Ways to get your home winter-ready
With the autumn leaves falling and stormier winter weather meaning there’s an uptick in rainwater, you’ll want to ensure your gutters aren’t blocked. Clearing them of the usual debris of moss, twigs and leaves means rainwater will drain away from your house and won’t cause any troublesome issues with damp and mould.
Get your boiler serviced
A broken boiler in the midst of a frosty spell is everyone’s worst nightmare, so take some time to ensure yours is in good working order. Test out your heating if you haven’t had it turned on since earlier in the year, and if necessary get in a professional (ensure they are a Gas Safety registered engineer) to give everything a service for ultimate peace of mind.
Check smoke/carbon monoxide alarms
With the heating and hot water being used more, and log burners and fires merrily crackling away, it’s especially important that all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working as they should be. Test them out, replace the batteries and update any units if necessary – smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, and carbon monoxide alarms every 5-10 depending on the model.
After a while out of action, you might find when testing out your heating that your radiators are cold at the top and hot at the bottom. This means there’s air trapped in the system which prevents the hot water circulating properly. To bleed your radiators you’ll need to turn off the heating, locate the bleed valve and, using a bleed key, turn it 180º anticlockwise. Once the air has been released, it’ll start to drip water (keep a towel handy!) at which point you can close the valve.
Insulate your loft
You know the old adage: hot air rises. If your loft isn’t insulated, up to a quarter of the heat you’ve accumulated in your home will be lost through the roof. As well as keeping your house toasty, adding loft insulation will also bring down your energy bills, so it’s a win-win fix.
If you live in an older or period property, it’s likely to be a bit draughtier than your average new build. Investing in heavier, lined curtains for winter – particularly in rooms you want to be cosy, like lounges and bedrooms – will stop draughts creeping in from windows. Draught excluders are also a handy fix for the bottom of doors so your toes can remain toasty no matter how miserable it gets outside.
Stock up on firewood/oil
If you have an open fire or a log burner, you’ll want to make sure you have a good supply of kindling and wood dried out and ready for burning. Stock up well in advance and you won’t have to panic when a cold snap arrives. Similarly, if you have an oil tank, make sure this is topped up early to avoid the peak winter prices.
Insulate/lag hot water pipes
Like a broken boiler, a burst hot water pipe is a winter disaster we could all do without. Luckily, it’s easy to insulate hot water pipes to minimise the risk of them bursting and to keep more heat in. Simply pick up some inexpensive lagging (essentially a cosy jacket for pipes) from your local DIY shop.
Check outside light bulbs
If you live somewhere with minimal street lighting, you’ll know how irksome it is to be fiddling round for your house keys when it’s freezing out and pitch black – which in winter round these parts isn’t far off 4pm. To keep your home well-lit and secure, check and replace outdoor lightbulbs or invest in some new motion sensor lights.
Install a smart heating system
You control everything else from your smart phone, why not your heating too? Smart heating systems such as Hive are full of intuitive features such as the ability to turn the heating on, off and up or down without leaving your seat. Monitor your energy usage, set savings goals, ensure the heating isn’t left on in an empty house and turn it on ahead of your arrival home, no matter how late you’ve worked.
Winter DIY projects
While the weather outside is frightful, get some jobs ticked off your DIY list so when the sunshine comes back out in spring, you won’t be stuck indoors.
Painting & decorating
If any rooms around the house need a freshen up, now is the time to get it done. Spend a gloomy weekend prepping, painting and pimping up your indoors space so it’s ready for all the Christmas house guests and you’ll be thankful you didn’t stay curled up on the sofa.
Clean your carpets
Why wait for a spring clean when you could sort it all out before winter? If your carpets have seen better days after lockdown and could do with a good scrub, give them a new lease of life with carpet cleaning machines like a Vax or Rug Doctor. You can also hire Rug Doctors from a number of well-known stores if buying and storing one of your own isn’t possible.
We’ll be spending more time indoors during winter, so any clutter accumulated over the madness of the summer holidays will quickly drive you to distraction. Use autumn evenings to have a good clear out of any items you no longer want or need – selling sites like Ebay and Facebook Marketplace make it easier than ever to get rid of things and make a bit of extra cash.
This is the ideal time of year for all those niggly jobs that you don’t get done while there are pub gardens and beaches to be going to during the summer. Whether it’s fixing a broken shelf, oiling a squeaky hinge, replacing the light bulbs with LEDs or securing a wobbly fence panel, get these jobs out of the way so you can relax once the new year rolls round.
Get the professionals in…
Change your conservatory roof
If you have an older conservatory, you’ll be familiar with the assumption that they’re too hot in summer and too cold in winter. If you find yourself avoiding your conservatory in the colder months because it’s just too chilly, replacing the polycarbonate roof with energy efficient glass or a solid roof before winter sets in could transform the way you use the space.
8 ways to prep your garden for winter/spring
Tidy up borders & flowerbeds
The high volume of rain followed by bouts of sun this summer meant most plants and flowers grew like mad – but sadly so did the weeds. Have a good tidy up by pulling up any pesky weeds and digging up annual plants that are past their best. Put in some hardy winter plants such as pansies, heathers and cyclamen to fill any gaps so you’ll enjoy a splash of colour throughout the dingier days.
Feed the soil
If you want healthy, thriving plants come spring, it’s a wise idea to feed the soil now so you have the perfect base for more planting next year. After you’ve had a good weed and tidy up, either use store-bought or homemade compost and spread a generous layer on the top of your borders and flowerbeds. Don’t worry about digging it in – let the worms do that for you!
Clean & store/secure garden furniture
We’ve all seen news reports after winter storms that feature trampolines and wheely bins flying off into the distance. To prevent this happening, this is the time of year to give all your outdoor furniture a good clean and then either store it safely away so it’s still in good condition next year, or secure it so it won’t end up in someone else’s garden in a strong wind.
Re-felt shed roof
If you’ve got a shed and the felt on the roof has seen better days, it’s a good idea to re-felt it before more inclement weather sets in. This will protect the contents of your shed and means you won’t be met with rusty garden tools and mouldy deck chair fabrics come spring.
Deadhead, prune & plant
Dig out your secateurs and deadhead/prune any perennial plants with flowers that are dead or looking scruffy. Autumn is also an ideal time of year to plant bulbs ready for spring and summer, especially those that will flower early on to give you a much-needed burst of colour such as crocuses, daffodils and irises.
Put up bird feeders
If you don’t already have bird feeders up in your garden, this is a good time of year to support your garden’s winged visitors, whose food sources will become scarcer over the colder months. Not only will you be doing your bit for the local wildlife, you’ll enjoy watching their trips to your garden from your window. It’s also a good opportunity to teach little ones (and older ones!) about the different species.
Protect outside taps
Similar to your hot water pipes indoors, outside taps are prone to damage from frost and ice. If you can’t isolate your garden tap, simply insulate any exposed pipes and fit a tap cover to protect it from the harsher weather.
Give your lawn some TLC
If weeds and moss have also accumulated in your lawn, take the opportunity to tackle them while it doesn’t need cutting as much. Use weed killer treatments and rake up any thatch and moss before applying lawn feed to prepare your grass for the winter months. This is also an ideal time of year to lay new turf, giving it time to bed in and establish before summer.